J-Board approves attention request that calls presidential candidate’s eligibility into question

Earlier today, members of the Associated Students of Portland State University’s Judicial Review Board voted to deem Dr. Khalid Alballaa, the presidential candidate of the Students for Affordable Education slate, ineligible to serve in office during spring term. The vote was brought about by an attention request filed by Kaitlyn Verret, the vice presidential candidate for the Step Up, Speak Out, Stand Together slate.

Last year, Alballaa ran on the slate Students for a Better Tomorrow, Today. He was disqualified for being a part of sending out a mass email that violated the PSU Acceptable Use Policy. He was later appointed to the Student Fee Committee by voting members of the ASPSU Senate.

In Fall 2014, Alballaa was removed from his appointed position in the SFC for failing to fulfill job duties, according to Verret’s attention request. Article 10, section 18 of the ASPSU Constitution states, “Those removed from office by any method except impeachment shall not be eligible to hold office in ASPSU for the following two (2) Quarters.”

Verret’s attention request stated that the Constitution does not specify whether or not an individual who is removed from office is “allowed to RUN [sic] for office during a term in which they would not be able to hold office.”

Current ASPSU Senator and senatorial candidate with SUSOST Patrick Vroman entered a public comment via email.

“I am concerned about the possibility of a presidential candidate being disqualified for the second year in a row,” he said. “I know the members of the [J-Board] will not decide this matter lightly, but I hope all members bear in mind the effect their decision may have on student involvement and the health of ASPSU as an institution.”

Verret said she considered ineligibility and disqualification to be synonymous.

“What we’ve said is that we’ve accepted your attention request, and everything else is up to the Elections Committee,” said Ukiah Hawkins, a member of the J-Board.

Alballaa was unanimously deemed ineligible to run, but the J-Board amended the vote to defer to the Elections Committee to define the terms of ineligibility. Barbara Payne, Vice-Chief Justice of the J-Board, was present as Verret’s counsel and did not vote on the matter.

It is not yet decided whether or not Alballaa will be disqualified. Nathan Claus, the Chief Justice of the J-Board, said that the Elections Committee will meet early next week to deliberate on the matter.

During the meeting, Candace Avalos, advisor to ASPSU, said, “Your scope here is just to decide if he’s eligible or not, but then the [Elections Committee] would have to make the decision about the disqualification.”

Alballaa left the room several times during the deliberation. After the J-Board voted and moved on to other matters, Alballaa re-entered the room and interrupted the meeting to ask what they had decided. Conversation turned confrontational when he said, “Honestly, I’ve lost any shade of respect.”

Hawkins asked Alballaa to calm down or leave. Alballaa continued, “This has nothing to do with the [J-Board]. This is injustice.”

Hawkins threatened to call Campus Public Safety if Alballaa did not either leave or quiet down. Alballaa sat down and said, “Go call campus security please.”

Claus and Avalos tried several times to call the meeting to order. Hawkins and Kate Lindstrom, another member of the J-Board, called for a point of order.

Alballaa continued, “I’m going to leave now. What I’m going to do is, instead of dedicating my [time] to support ASPSU which is—I’ve worked hard, and I’ve had a lot of people testify that I did—I’m going to direct my work to speak up how awful it is, and how unjust it is.”

Alballaa then confronted the reporting editor of the Vanguard.

“Are you from Student Media?” he asked. “Okay, just to know, there are 20 other members in the student government who did not meet the attendance requirement. I’m the only one who is being kicked out.”

Members of the J-Board and Alballaa continued to talk over one another until Hawkins got up and left. Payne requested that the meeting be suspended until the matter could be rectified. Claus called a recess.

After the J-Board meeting, Vroman tendered his resignation from SUSOST. He is still running independently for Senate.

Story updated April 19 at 1:13 PM.