New ASCIT Bylaw Amendments: What You Should Know

This term, 3 new bylaws amendments have been proposed by Board of Directors of the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology on Sunday, April 9th, 2023. These proposed bylaws cover 3 areas of student life: increasing the current number of Board of Control (BoC) secretaries from 2 to 4, mandating more checks to the California Tech’s finances, and raising student dues paid to ASCIT. The vote was held Friday, April 21st, 2023 and the results have not come out as of the time of writing. For the updated results on the election, please visit our website.

To learn more about the details behind these proposals, we reached out to the former BoC Chair David Melisso (EE 23’, Blacker), the newly elected California Tech’s Editor in Chief Michael Gutierrez (Ay 25’, Dabney/Ricketts), and ASCIT President Kavya Rajagopalan (ACM/Ec 23’, Lloyd) for their statements, which can be found in order below.

The Board of Control is a student committee which oversees and deliberate upon reports of academic Honor Code violation. The proposal to increase BoC secretaries was drafted by Melisso. He stated that “in the past, [BoC Leadership] has been overwhelmed”, since “every case requires two people from Leadership to be present”. Melisso notes that the caseload for the BoC has jumped due to an recent increase in reports and having more secretaries would help mitigate this increase. The BoC secretaries’ roles are described as “coordinating case scheduling, taking notes during cases, and writing up case reports” which is a lot for just two people. He is strongly advocating for the increase in secretaries, adding that it’s “just too much work for [two people]”.

As for the California Tech, it has been dealing with many issues since publication stalled during COVID years, a notable one being financial mismanagement in the past few years (described as Gutierrez as “a financial disaster”). People working and writing for the Tech have reported not being paid as well as other concerns. Gutierrez, being a the start of his term as Editor-in-Chief worked with Kavya Rajagopalan, and the ASCIT Secretary, Jonathan Booker (Ricketts, Ph/CS ‘25), to reach a solution to the Tech’s finances. As a part of the agreed-upon proposal, the ASCIT Board of Directors is to transfer money to the Tech in requested installments instead of a singular lump sum that has been deposited into the Tech financial accounts with no supervision at the beginning of every term. Gutierrez stated that he believes this proposal to be a reasonable one, and that “as the editor, I’m feeling optimistic, looking forward to exploring what the Tech’s role on campus should be”. Booker has taken on the role as the Business Manager for the publication and is working with Gutierrez to ensure that every one gets paid.

Finally, we reached out to Rajagopalan herself on the matter of ASCIT raising dues from $99 a year to $120 a year to be collected from every Caltech undergraduate. She shared that there has been an increase in social events, clubs, and other activities sponsored by ASCIT in the past two years. While these events have been successfully held, Rajagopalan noted that ASCIT did not have enough funding in their initial budget and had to apply for additional funds through the Moore-Hufstedler Fund (MHF) in order to help cover the costs. Even then, there was still funds needed, and she noted that ASCIT last year been functioning off of that year’s ASCIT funds plus rollover funds unused from COVID years in order to hold events. As a result, this year’s ASCIT Formal saw an increase in ticket prices due to the lack of funding, and clubs have taken a heavy hit in financials due to a 150% increase in the number of clubs that currently exist at Caltech. With these circumstances in mind, Rajagopalan stated that “our current revenue through dues is unsustainable unless we increase it by a marginal amount”. She is the Lead Author of the proposal behind increased dues, and she hopes that the increase in dues would help to “create a more stable financial scheme” for events, clubs, and even House funding.

On April 14th, the ASCIT President (Rajagopalan) sent out an email notifying undergraduates that the ASCIT Board of Directors had “ruled to propose a series of new bylaw amendments” linking to the full proposals of each of the three amendments detailed above. She requested students to read and vote on the matters, highlighting the significance of these proposals on Caltech’s campus life.

On April 20th, the day before the election, a town hall was held to discuss the proposed amendments. A full transcript can be found here.

Update 4/22/2023:

The results of the election are in. The election for the April 2023 bylaw amendments has concluded. Each amendment passed with the necessary 2/3 vote. Detailed results of the election are published on Donut.

Thank you all for participating!