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Amid a restructuring of CU’s journalism program, journalism student representatives and officers have been acting for two months outside of legislative boundaries in an effort to reorganize their student government, they said this week.
According to multiple members, Journalism Board suspended its bylaws in December and elected representatives and executive officers during the same meeting. The suspension ceased students’ ability to vote on issues brought before the board, including their representatives.
Minutes were not taken and vote counts were not recorded at most, if not all, J-Board meetings, according to David Martinez, a faculty adviser to the board who said he often attends J-Board meetings. The meetings are public and have been held at irregular times and places.
Because no records of the meetings exist, the order of the election and suspension of bylaws cannot be determined.
Andrew Haubner, a sophomore broadcast news major, said he was elected president of J-Board the second week of December at the meeting in which the bylaws were suspended.
Under the suspension, Haubner said, only executive members of the board can vote in elections. The suspension undid the 13-year-old previous bylaws that allowed any journalism student to vote for his or her representative.
“You want the right people in charge,” Haubner said. “People who are informed, people who will actually work.”
Haubner said the board opted to suspend the bylaws entirely, instead of reform them, because the executives recognized broader issues with the structure of the board.
“I can’t stress enough the fact that literally everything needed to be changed about the whole J-Board,” Haubner said.
Catherine Bogart, a senior broadcast news major representing the J-Board as a student government senator since she was elected to that position in December 2012, said the board stopped functioning in October 2013 when all the members, except her, quit.
“I don’t know why the J-Board fell apart,” Bogart said. “It’s mostly people who didn’t care enough and that’s why we need stability in this transition.”
Bogart and Martinez said the board has been reorganizing since it dissolved last fall.
“We couldn’t follow every rule to the T because you can’t ever restart something like that,” Bogart said. “The bylaws didn’t make sense for us because we were restarting, because we had zero officers.”
Haubner said the board was disjointed and took little action even before it dissolved.
“Our current incarnation of it pretty much said we want to distance ourselves from everything about the old board, because this is a very important year for the journalism school,” Haubner said.
In April, a proposal of the new College of Media, Communication and Information will be heard by the University of Colorado Board of Regents. In the meantime, Haubner said, he’s been representing the J-Board to the Journalism Advisory Board, in discussions with CU Journalism Director Christopher Braider and in conversations with other senior administrators regarding the school’s future.
“We’re in such a fragile state right now that anybody just showing up could potentially sway it wrong,” he said.
Haubner said the board suspended the bylaws in part because they were “ridiculously obsolete,” and in part to contain voting rights on budgetary decisions and executive-level positions — including representatives — to the executive board members.
“We didn’t want to risk people coming in who either did not understand or were just kind of there for one time only,” Haubner said.
The board’s old bylaws delineate in Section II.B.5a and Section II.C. the power of electing the school’s one or more representatives to everyone on Journalism Board. That included “Regular Board Members,” who were defined as any journalism students that attended three-fourths of J-Board meetings and participated in two journalism projects during the semester.
“You can’t have people showing up once, who have no grasp of any issues, and vote,” Haubner said.
Haubner said the antiquated bylaws — which were dated Sept. 1, 2000 — lagged behind six of the eight other CU colleges and schools whose governing boards send two co-senators to speak as one voice for the school.
The old J-Board bylaws defined the school’s representative position on the CU Student Government Council of Colleges and Schools as a single-person job, but gave the board the opportunity to redefine the position.
“There will be one solely elected member to fulfill the position, unless deemed otherwise by the board,” the old bylaws state in Section II.B.4.
The board voted unanimously at the meeting in the second week of December, Haubner and Bogart said, to extend the time that Bogart would serve as a senator.
At that meeting, the board also elected a co-senator, freshman advertising major Steve Marcantonio, to serve alongside Bogart and an alternate senator, sophomore broadcast news major Jordyn Siemens, who they planned would take Bogart’s place as Marcantonio’s co-senator after Bogart saw through CUSG’s budget hearing next month.
Bogart said she stayed on the board as a senator to help usher in new people to her position as a representative of the journalism school — a technique that was never offered to her under the old bylaws.
“When we were first talking about this, we didn’t know who was going to elect into these spots and how understanding of everything they would be and how quickly they were going to be able to pick it up, so that’s why the board decided to keep me through budgets,” Bogart said. “But since Steve and Jordyn are so capable and really have been working so hard on training and transitioning, I’m resigning early.”
She did not specify when her resignation would be.
Haubner and Bogart gave conflicting accounts of the J-Board meeting held in the second week of December. Haubner said that elections were held before the bylaws were suspended, and Bogart said elections were held after the suspension.
“This two-month window, at least the way I look at it, was supposed to be our transitionary phase where everything was written, changed up, and we had a solid set of rules by the time the budgets rolled around,” Haubner said.
Campus resource centers’ budget proposals were due to CU student government before the last week of January. CUSG Finance Board is expected to present a proposal that compiles those budgets to Legislative Council next Wednesday.
Haubner said he began drafting new bylaws on Sunday, Feb. 16 and, as of the following Tuesday, had not yet reached out to other executive members on the J-Board or any people in his position in other schools to construct them.
“While these details have seemed sketchy, they haven’t been done for no purpose,” Haubner said. “This has been done because there’s a lot riding on the Journalism Board right now and the Journalism Board needs to be shown to the public as strong, capable, motivated students.”
Haubner said J-Board has not publicized to students that their inability to join the board and vote for representatives has been revoked, and that the board has not reached out to students about the new two-person representation.
Haubner said he is planning to present a draft of new bylaws to the board 5 p.m. Thursday in Armory Room 206. At 3 p.m. Sunday at an undecided location, the board will take a vote on the proposed new bylaws.
After the draft bylaws are proposed on Thursday, CU Independent will publish a comparison of them to other Council of Colleges and Schools’ bylaws.
Editor’s Note: Andrew Haubner joined the CU Independent staff as a sports writer two weeks prior to the publication of this story. Jordyn Siemens has been on staff in the sports section since fall 2013.
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Alison Noon at Alison.firstname.lastname@example.org.
CU Independent Editor-in-Chief Annie Melton contributed to this report.