ASDVC Election Endorsement Causes Concern

Lindsay St. Hill, participating in the ASDVC  debate on Tuesday March 31 2009 . DVC, ICC and DVC)  ()

Lindsay St. Hill, participating in the ASDVC debate on Tuesday March 31 2009 . DVC, ICC and DVC) ()

Ariel Messman-Rucker

Allegations that the outgoing president of the Associated Students of DVC violated the election code by unfairly endorsing and campaigning for a slate of candidates stirred up controversy as voting concluded this week for next year’s student leaders.

ASDVC President Bundit Kertbundit’s involvement in the 2009 campaign of the UAID coalition (Uniting ASDVC, ICC and DVC) was no secret.

UAID posters carried the statement, “UAID is officially endorsed by Bundit Kertbundit, ASDVC President 2008-2009.”

He also campaigned for the slate – headed by presidential candidate Linsay St. Hill – in classrooms throughout the campus.

And he handpicked the ASDVC board members he wanted on the UAID slate, a coalition he started a year ago when he ran for office.

Kertbundit defended his actions in an interview, saying his endorsement of UAID candidates was an issue of “personal rights and freedom of speech.”

“I have that right, even though I represent all students,” Kertbundit said. “I have the right to take a stance on issues and on the election.”

Since candidates can spend no more than $150 each, most pool their money and form a coalition to reach a student body of more than 20,000 students.

In addition to UAID, two new coalitions – Make it Happen and BIG (Bold, Interactive and Genuine) – fielded candidates in this election.

As the campaign drew closer to the actual voting, other candidates began to quietly voice their disapproval of Kertbudit’s favoritism towards UAID, said Francisco Hinojosa, who sits on the ASDVC executive board as president of the Inter Club Council.

“It’s like playing against an all star team, and you’re a triple-A team,” Hinojosa said. “It’s about fairness in opportunity and there is none here.”

Hinojosa said he was originally Kertbundit’s pick for ASDVC president, but after a disagreement he backed out and Kertbundit chose another candidate.

Young Jun Jang, the presidential candidate with Make It Happen, also criticized Kertbundit’s role in the campaign.

“I don’t think its fair,” Jang said. “He should be there to empower everyone.”

In addition to fairness, Hinojosa and Jang said Kertbundit broke the rules that govern the ASDVC election process.

Section 7 subsection 7.07 of the code  reads: “Associated Students funded programs may not expend A.S funds to endorse a candidate (including coalitions) or engage in an activity that is beneficial or detrimental to any candidate.”

Subsection 7.09 also prohibits “Associated Students funded organizations … from endorsing candidates, coalitions or recalls during the elections.”

Hinojosa maintains the ASDVC president would be considered an “Associated Students funded organization,” since the ASDVC finances Kertbundit’s trips to represents DVC at conferences and because as president he  represents everyone in ASDVC.

Bill Oye, dean of student life, conceded a conflict exists.

“[A student body president] is an individual, and also he is a person who is supposed to represent all students,” Oye said.

The issue of whether executive board members should be allowed to endorse candidates will be debated and a vote taken by the board after the election, Oye said.

Petra Muljadi, the presidential candidate on the BIG slate also faulted Kertbundit’s activist role.

“When it comes to Bundit as a student, he is entitled to support any group he wants,” Muljadi said in an email interview. “But as the president of ASDVC, he has the duty and responsibility to be fair and support all the candidates.”