Amendments proposed during ASB election season

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Jessica Lu, news editor

In light of the spring Associated Student Body (ASB) elections, junior Amir Kashfi has proposed new amendments to the ASB Constitution regarding the qualifications for the Student Board Member position, which currently is part of Head Row.

Kashfi, who has no previous ASB experience, originally aimed to run for the position, yet faced constitutional challenges. His proposed changes to two of the articles, if voted through, would be the first amendments made to the Constitution in decades.

“My intention is to democratize the election process so that more qualified applicants can run, rather than let ASB maintain an unreasonable monopoly on the position,” Kashfi said.

Currently the ASB bylaws regarding elections in Article II, Section C, state that all those running for Head Row positions must have “served in the ASB class for at least two semesters.” Under the description of the Student Board Member’s responsibilities, “participate in Head Row” is listed as one of the duties. Kashfi’s plan is to revise these two provisions in such a way that now any juniors who meet the non-Head Row GPA and conduct requirements will be eligible to run for the position. Previous ASB experience is not required.

According to his amendments submitted to the board, “ASB’s monopoly on this critical position is illegal under the superior BHUSD Board of Education’s constitution.”

“This position is unique in that there is no real way to gain experience through ASB,” Kashfi said.

In an essay he submitted to the board, Kashfi wrote, “Is it important to have someone who knows how ASB runs, when that can be taught? I believe it is more important to have someone enthusiastic and ready to learn.”

Kashfi first approached ASB with a preliminary amendment and student signatures, only later to return with a more specific revision. His final draft was presented to the Board. The Board reviewed these proposed changes at their meeting on Tuesday, May 13, with split views.

“There were strong opinions [on the Board], but the strongest seemed to agree with Amir,” ASB adviser Mark Mead said. “In my opinion, I am not for or against it. I see myself as a facilitator.”

According to Mead, there are two ways to view the position: firstly, as a “bridge” between ASB and the Board, and secondly “as a voice of the at-large voting community.” Kashfi voiced that he believed the Student Board Member should be a “liaison” between the school as a whole and the Board.

Head Row President Josh Schenk investigated the Student Board Member position in the last 35 years and at other neighboring high schools, and said his findings mostly supported the first viewpoint.

“There are a lot of intelligent people who are passionate about what happens [at the school],” Schenk said. “But if you were to ask them about how a certain procedure works, they might not have that knowledge about how that stuff works. Most of the Student Board Members have been developing those skills for two or three years.”

In general, however, Schenk would support either outcome of a vote because it would represent what the student body wanted.

According to Mead, however, the vote cannot be presented to the student body yet, as there is not enough time for it to appear on the May 20 ballot. Therefore, students will be voting on Kashfi’s amendments in December.

“It’s too soon,” Mead said. “The kids on this campus don’t have enough information to make this vote.”

Mead said that in polling several students that signed Kashfi’s petition, he found many did not know what they had supported.

“There were many students who said, ‘I have no idea what I signed,’” he said. “It’s a bit concerning to go to vote when a decent number of students are uninformed. [However], I don’t think Amir did anything wrong; I’m sure he was very articulate in what he had to say.”

Kashfi said he made sure the students were given enough information to make an educated decision on whether or not to sign the petition.

“I made my intentions very clear to every student,” he said.  “Upon signing, I verified with the student that they knew what they were signing.”

One such student was senior David Prokopenko, who found value in the initiatives.

“I signed it because why not? He is clearly a man on a mission and I thought it was a brave stance he was taking,” he said.

Because Kashfi’s amendments would not be passed in time, he is still ineligible to run for the year-long position. Mead believes this turn of events removes Kashfi’s self-interest from the equation.

“Now that Amir can’t run, we can take a step back and do it the right way,” Mead said. “He and I have agreed that while he didn’t quite get what he was hoping for, I’m happy to say that at the end of it all, we’re shaking hands. He tried very valiantly and courageously.”

Although Kashfi said he was “disappointed” that his amendments will have to wait until December to appear on the ballot, he also felt confident that his changes will pass.

“I am certain by the time I graduate this change will be brought about,” Kashfi said.

Schenk voiced his support for Kashfi continuing to chase his political aspirations.

“If he wanted to continue getting signatures and petitioning and trying to get the school to pass the amendment, that’s a right that he has,” Schenk said. “ASB strongly encourages people to make amendments when they think something is wrong; it is a democratic right.”

Mead overall believes Kashfi’s actions illustrate a positive aspect on campus.

“Students getting involved with ASB politics is very healthy,” he said.

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