On September 26th, Fresno State’s Associated Students, Inc. voted 7-6 to become the first public university to endorse California’s Proposition 30, the ballot initiative that would raise income and sales taxes to generate revenue to avoid education cuts. Fresno State College Republicans chairman Daniel Harrison, presented a petition to the ASI Senate, which had 833 signatures, opposing the body’s endorsement of Prop 30. Through a series of underhanded and partisan ploys, including ASI Executive VP Parmita Choudhury switching roles with a student senator to vote in favor of the endorsement, Fresno’s ASI chose to ignore the voices of 833 concerned students opposing the endorsement. 833 is more students than voted for all but two of the student senators in the last election.

“These signatures are irrelevant,” said Choudhury.

“It’s a shame so many senators would rather serve the partisan agenda of one executive rather than hundreds and hundreds of students,” Harrison said. “Proposition 30 is very important and it is a debate that we as a campus need to have, but let’s do it responsibly.”

If the idea of a public university endorsing a ballot initiative that is to be voted for during the November elections sounds odd to you, that’s because it’s illegal. California Education Code 7054 states that no public “services, supplies, or equipment shall be used for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate, including, but not limited to, any candidate for election to the governing board of the district.” Using taxpayer money and student fees to push for ballot measures has become an epidemic in the Cal State communities. In documents obtained by CalWatchDog, Cal State faculty are seen using school resources to push for Prop. 30 and for the defeat of Prop. 32, an initiative to resrtict campaign contributions from unions and corporations.

The emails read like your typical socialist propoganda: “90% of Prop. 30’s revenue would be generated from taxing the rich to fund public education and safety” (emphasis mine). They also provide the readers (professors) with videos to show their class that explicitly support Prop. 30.

The California Faculty Association “urges members to get involved in electoral activities … In addition to doing classroom presentations CFA encourages faculty to participate in phone banking and precinct walking with your local central labor council to help get out the vote for the No on 32 … and Yes on 30.”

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association attained a draft of a letter California State University is going to send to those seeking admission to the CSU system that half-endorses Prop. 30. “Because enrollment capacity is tied to the amount of available state funding, the campuses will be able to admit more applicants if Proposition 30 passes and fewer applicants if the proposition fails,” it reads. “Therefore, notification of admission decisions will occur after the close of the initial application filing period (November 30, 2012), at which time the outcome of Proposition 30 at the November 6 election will be known.” That’s hardly what’s going on here.

Regardless of whether or not Prop. 30 is a good or bad initiative, public universities using their faculties for political advocacy is wrong. California law allows for “a fair and impartial presentation of relevant facts to aid the electorate in reaching an informed judgment regarding the bond issue or ballot measure.” What action will be taken to correct the actions of the other public employees using their clout to back ballot measures is unclear.

Fresno’s Parmita Choudhury has admitted to crossing this line already: “We are not voting to fund Prop 30, just support it.” Daniel Harrison says: “As part of the ASI vote, the organization will be spending student fees to print materials to encourage the students to vote in favor of Prop 30 in the November election.” The Fresno College Republicans are working to recall the seven senators that voted against the voice of the students.

Keith Fierro | California State University | @kjfierro