Widgets Magazine

Constitutional Council case filed against the Senate over bylaw

Petitioners hold that a bylaw should have prevented Lizzie Ford ’20 from replacing Matthew Cohen ’18 last week (EDER LOMELI/The Stanford Daily).

ASSU Undergraduate Senate candidate Jacob Randolph ’19 has filed a Constitutional Council case against the Senate. Randolph claims that Senator Lizzie Ford ’20 improperly replaced Matthew Cohen ’18 when Cohen was appointed chief of staff for the ASSU executive team and subsequently resigned from Senate last week.

According to Randolph, Ford is ineligible to serve as a rising sophomore in light of the Senate’s Upper-Class District quota, which he alleges mandates the presence of three upperclassmen in the Senate. As the candidate from the Upperclass District with the next-highest vote count, Randolph requests that the Senate remove Ford from office and instead swear him in as senator.

In his petition, Randolph asserts, “The Undergraduate Senate is in violation of the Undergraduate Senate bylaws by neglecting to replace a resigning senator, a member of the Senate Upper-Class District who resigned within 28 days of the 2017 ASSU election, with the upperclassman candidate with the next highest number of votes.”

“I am just looking forward to resolving the ambiguity that exists within the Constitution and Undergraduate Senate bylaws regarding the filling of a vacancy left by a member of the SenateUpper-Class District,” Randolph further clarified in an email to The Daily.

Ford holds that the 2013 bylaw which Randolph describes is only applicable during an election, not in its aftermath, referring to the fact that she replaced a resigning senator after the election had closed.

“I just wanted to make that distinction between the Constitution’s wording and what the bylaws say about elections,” she said. “This situation specifically concerns a resignation, and that’s very different from an election situation.”

The 2013 bylaw was enforced during the spring 2017 election when junior Katie Hufker ’18, who received 15 fewer votes than Ford, was sworn in over Ford as a representative of the Upper-Class District. Randolph, by comparison, received 177 fewer votes than Ford.

Should the Constitutional Council grant Randolph’s petition, he will bypass three other freshman candidates, Joseph Hanson ’20, Shawn Ahdout ’20 and Vinicus Garcia ’20 – all of whom received more votes than Randolph – in his appointment as senator.

Ford has recently assumed her role as chair of student life, and as of 9 p.m. on Tuesday evening was in the process of crafting her respondent’s brief and determining which undergraduate senator will represent her at the Constitutional Council hearing. The hearing must occur 10 days after the original petitioner’s brief is filed, Ford said.

“Rumors had been spreading about this [potential petition] since before [Cohen’s] resignation,” Ford said. “I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. Of course, though, I won’t hesitate to take the opportunity to clarify the bylaws, which is something we’ve been talking a lot about in Senate. This is also something that [Administration and Rules Committee Chair] Chapman [Caddell ’20] is interested in doing this year.”

Some students familiar with the Senate frowned upon the decision to replace Cohen with Ford, voicing approval for the Constitutional Council case.

“I think it’s inexcusable that the Senate has flagrantly violated the Constitution by placing Lizzie on the Senate,” a student who wished to remain anonymous said. “They took an oath to uphold the Constitution, and it looks like they are already reneging on that solemn promise.”

Recently appointed Senate Chair Kojoh Atta ’20 declined to comment.



Contact Courtney Douglas at ccdf ‘at’ stanford.edu.