Rutgers University Senate
Student Affairs Committee

Response to Charge S-0323, Input on Referendum Guidelines Review
November 2003

The Student Affairs Committee was charged as follows:  Input on Referendum Guidelines Review:  Provide input on University Structure and Governance Committee's (USGC) charge S-0107, Referendum Guidelines Review.  Consult and coordinate with USGC co-chairs on type and scope of input needed to revise the guidelines for referenda (currently used by Targum and NJPIRG Student Chapters).  Respond to Senate Executive Committee by November 27, 2003.

At its meeting of November 21, 2003, at which Senate Secretary Ken Swalagin acted as substitute chairperson, the University Senate Student Affairs Committee agreed to provide to the University Structure and Governance Committee the following recommendations regarding Review of University Senate Guidelines Regarding Special Student Organizations:

1.   The amount of the proposed fee for the planned referendum should be stated in the Concept Plan.

2.   Negative check-off should be the uniform method of placement on term bills, allowing students to select not to pay the organization’s fee at the time the term bill is paid.

3.   If a refund process is utilized, that refund process should be uniform for all organizations, and should be as simple as possible for students seeking refunds of paid fees.

4.   Section II(1)(B) states that “At least twenty-five percent of the eligible voters, plus one individual within the college or division must vote in the affirmative for implementation of alternative funding within that college or division.”  It is unclear whether, if 60 percent of all those eligible did vote, with a result that 35 percent (minus one individual) of eligible voters voted “No,” and only the remaining 25 percent (plus one individual) of eligible voters voted “Yes,” the result would still constitute a successful affirmative vote.  If so, this should not be the case.  A majority “No” vote should disallow a successful affirmative vote.  If this is not the intent of the guidelines, the ambiguity should be clarified.

5.   Section IV(I), paragraph two, states that “Polling may continue as long as a reasonable number of students continue to vote and as long as the petitioning student organization is prepared to meet referendum expenses, although in no instance may polling extend past the end of the semester.”  If “reasonable number of students” is not defined, it seems possible that the petitioning organization may extend the referendum, at will, to the end of the semester.  This seems inappropriately lenient.

6.   Individual student organizations should be allowed to conduct referenda no more frequently than every three years, regardless of the outcome.

7.   Lastly, the Student Affairs Committee members participating in the November 21, 2003 meeting agreed that it would be helpful to know more about what the University Treasurer’s office does regarding examination and/or disclosure of the petitioning organizations’ audits.