Fear and Loathing in De Anza College, pt. 5

TOTAL acquittal. One of the sweetest pair of words possible in the English language.

An emergency meeting was held after the regular, weekly De Anza Associated Student Body meeting, in order to (hopefully) finalize the issue of Josh Chou’s disqualification from the student election. As was noted by student trustee Patrick Ahrens, according to the bylaws, though the emergency meeting technically doesn’t fall neatly under the Brown Act, it does fall rather well into the election bylaws. By attending last Wednesday’s DASB meeting, all candidates could easily secure two of the three requisite meetings in one stroke.

Hilariously, the whole intent of forcing candidates to prove their seriousness by attending meetings in the first place was also to make sure that next year’s representatives and officers would have some clue, however small, of both how a meeting is run and what the biggest issues they’ll be facing happen to be. But if Josh Chou was, in fact, guilty of negligent attendance, then the only thing he would have gotten from this particular meeting was, first, that the discussion of future mascots alone can take up a good half-hour of the DASB’s time, and, second, that the DASB is willing to divest entire hours on him and him alone.

Somehow, I think that rather misses the original intent.

However, as I have indicated in prior articles, there is litle question as to whether or not Chou invested adequate care into his candidacy. And the DASB, as byzantinely bureaucratic and plodding as they are, apparently agreed. It was, wisely, decided amongst the student council to amend the minutes o a prior meeting to include Josh Chou on the list of confirmed guests. With all other considerations in, it was further decided that he was not in fact, guilty of negligence, and would be officially recognized by the council as eligible for the position of executive vice president under Marlo Custodio.

Politics does work after all.

Not only does it apparently work, the struggle to ensure the survival of their candidacy apparently leaked out into the student body at large. It has been confirmed by the school paper, La Voz Weekly (of which I am staffed as the current and first Technology Editor) that this is, by far, a record-breaking election. Though last year barely ecked out four hundred voters, this year’s election has seen a nearly four hundred percent increase – roughly sixteen hundred votes total, and beating out the prior record of twelve hundred (a record that had been held for whole decades).

Though this is still only about ten percent of the entirety of the student body, keep in mind that much of the student population are also made up of night class and distance learning students as well, severely limiting their exposure to the whole election fiasco and campaigning. Not to mention that this is also the first year we’ve (finally) implemented an online election process – an online-only election process, with only a token booth set up in the campus main quad to get people to vote between classes. For a badly organized system, and one that had seen a decades-long tradition of student apathy, the Custodio/Chou candidancy controversy had managed to revitalize the democratic process within De Anza College. For that alone, I am deeply honored to have been part of the fight.

Of course, the process isn’t anywhere near over. Today is the last day of the voting, Tuesday will be the complaints committee, and Wednesday, barring any serious complaints that weren’t resolved the day before, will be the official announcement. All signs indicate a healthy, perhaps insurmountable, lead for Custodio, Chou, and much of the rest of the Students United group (minus, perhaps, Mo). All signs indicate that, while the Student Connection’s top tickets will be grumbling fairly heavily given a loss, there won’t be any actions formally taken.

And, on the off-chance, there is? To be blunt, the Students United, though boisterous and weighed down by the less than fully positive reputation of Students for Justice (who, almost unanimously, fall under my critique of student activists in general – a critique that deserves its own full rant), has a staggering brain advantage. They’re capable of mounting both a superior offense and defense. And, not to stroke my own ego too much, they have my services too.

However, it’s almost tempting to say that it doesn’t matter who wins – because the winners might as well be the losers too. The Governor’s Office has just asked community colleges to take yet another “mid-year” cut – when there is less than a month left to the school year. At the local level, De Anza College is bracing for one hell of a sucker-punch – right where it hurts. The categorical programs, which include special education and disability services, are facing something like a 47-50% budget cut alone, and others are sharing similar, if slightly less drastic fates. The smell of desperation and anger emanates strongly from the faculty offices, and wsa especially concentrated during the budget townhall meeting held yesterday.

The state government’s betrayal, and continued inability to balance the budget, casts a dark, long shadow over the fiery light of this uniquely active student election.

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~ by Gonzo Mehum on May 22, 2009.

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