Judicial Board dissenting opinion on election results

In regards to matter 07-29, I would have voted in abstention for various reasons. Unfortunately the late time of our meeting prevented me from staying and casting this vote.

Editors note: This is a formal dissenting opinion released by Judicial Board Justice Molly Woon on April 30th, 2007.

Dear Justices, Members of the PSU Community:

In regards to matter 07-29, I would have voted in abstention for various reasons. Unfortunately the late time of our meeting prevented me from staying and casting this vote. As a working student I have tried my best to accommodate my commitment to ASPSU and the PSU community but feel that meetings that go into the late evening hours are unreasonable and taxing on students who have careers outside of the university.

Before explaining the vote I would have made, I would like to explain what my vote isn’t a reflection upon: my impartiality. I have no doubt that I would be and am currently able to make an unbiased vote on this matter without a conflict of interest. To question that is an insult to my intelligence and my service to the Judicial Board over the last year and eight months. What I do doubt is the popular perception that my vote would be questionable based upon my relationships with both the petitioner and the respondent. I know that the Judicial Board would like to imagine that there is no other court than ours and that the court of public opinion holds no sway upon our operations but I think that is a naive and inaccurate perception. I would rather be sensitive to this reality than kid myself otherwise. Because of this sensitivity, I would have liked more information before casting an up or down vote.

That said, my decision to abstain was a reflection upon what I saw as the lack of accommodation to my request for legal council. As I have stated repeatedly, I feel that an issue of this gravity deserves all the deliberation and advice we can receive. I do not see the de-validation of the election of a candidate to be an issue to be taken capriciously, but one in which we consider in all seriousness. This is not to say that the Judicial Board shirked its responsibilities or didn’t gravely consider the matter, but I think more could have been done before making a decision. I personally would like to feel more confident before making a decision and I have every confidence that speaking with a legal professional would have aided in this — regardless of whether I agreed with legal council’s advice or not. That would be up to the members of the Judicial Board to decide.

I understand the argument for student process. Indeed, I have been an ardent advocate of the student process for many years, but I don’t equate student process with disregard to the help that is available to us via the university administration. I think it is this perception that created adversarial relationships. Believe it or not (and for a long time, I was a disbeliever), the university administration is not here to stall and ruin student process. They are a part of student process. Without them we would have no university and without the university we would be students at PSU.

Finally, a note about the suggestion that I ought to have recused myself from the conversation on matter 07-29: I feel this is narrow sighted and unfortunate. I don’t consider my personal ties to the petitioner and the respondent any stronger than anyone else’s. I think it would be fair to assume that the members of the judicial board voted in the ASPSU elections and in fact at one time actively supported one candidate over another via this process. My decision to abstain is stems from my wish for information that was not provided and my fear that premature voting would give the appearance of bias.

I don’t expect anyone to agree with my opinion on this matter or support it and I sense it was an unpopular decision, but regardless it is my decision and the only one I could be comfortable with. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned the conflicts, but I wanted to declare any possible or perceived conflicts with this matter in a judicious manner; I chose to be transparent over the possibility of my voting one way or another to be perceived as biased and questioning my legitimacy. I simply did not want to become a player in this already heated debate. However, I don’t intend for this lengthy opinion to be a call for response or debate, but only an attempt to clarify where I stand on the matter. Furthermore, my hope is that my decision and opinion on the matter doesn’t strain or damage any friendships I have in ASPSU which I hold in high regard. My sincerest wish is that people will respect my point of view on this matter and respect my tenure as a Judicial Board Justice.


Molly Woon