Like a bad April Fool’s Day prank, the resounding victory of the Devaney/Woon slate in last term’s student election has now turned into a confusing scrap of he said/she said. Even more frustrating is that the scrap was initiated not by their political opponents but by the university adviser in charge of advocating on their behalf.

On Wednesday, first-year Student Activities and Leadership Program adviser Natalee Webb e-mailed a form letter telling a number of students who won office that their academic performance during winter term precluded them from being sworn in, and instructed the students to resign their posts before they even begin their terms.

Unfortunately, Webb was wrong.

The ASPSU constitution clearly outlines the academic requirements for ASPSU officers – they must be in good academic standing.

Good standing is defined by Portland State University as maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0. As far as we can tell, only two of the students contacted may not meet this requirement, but focusing on the students’ standing misses the real problems with this situation:

First, the logic behind Webb’s e-mail wasn’t rooted in a clear reading of the ASPSU constitution, which makes no mention of academic performance during a campaign – nor shortly thereafter – but only during a student’s term of office.

That term of office hasn’t yet begun. Questions of this nature are erroneous prior to those students taking office – students who were clearly elected by their peers in an uncontested election.

Once the students take office, perhaps there is reason to examine their academic performance and review their eligibility for office. Likewise, students holding paid positions in student government may have their wages withheld if they do not meet the requirements for student employment.

To force, coerce, or even strongly urge students who have not yet begun their term in ASPSU to "resign" their post because of poor marks is premature and bizarre.

Second, the intent behind this action is questionable at best. According to numerous people involved in student government, Webb was not pleased with the outcome of the student election and has told second-place candidates they may be able to take office instead of the poorly-graded students.

The idea that an elected official would be thrown out and replaced with a runner-up is additionally bizarre. The constitution again very clearly outlines that empty seats in student government are to be filled by appointment by the president of ASPSU.

Because no "vacancy" would occur until the swearing in of the new ASPSU administration, it would be the responsibility of Erin Devaney to appoint replacements.

Why then would an adviser argue that students should be drummed out of an ASPSU office they do not even hold yet, while some other process – the unconstitutional appointment of unelected runners-up – is used to fill their newly vacant senate-elect positions?

One student has already suffered the unsavory fate of exclusion from the student election. Cassandra Fowler, who won a seat on the Student Senate with a total of 785 votes (219 votes more than the lowest vote earner who took office), has thus far been prevented from declaring victory because of an inane ruling by the ASPSU elections committee, which disqualified her from the election.

The adviser who helped "clarify" the issues in front of the elections committee? Natalee Webb.

Webb tried to fix the problems created by her e-mail by sending out a second e-mail explaining the caveats discussed above, but we are afraid this is akin to putting a band-aid on a deep gash. Webb’s actions betray either her ignorance of or disregard for the ASPSU constitution and the students she is supposed to represent.

The election results presented ASPSU with a mandate – a rarity in student government – and it would be a tragedy if the resulting opportunity was undone by an incompetent adviser.