Soto declared president, again

Rudy Soto was declared student body president May 22 because of new information about enrollment, after the Elections Board overturned a decision to disqualify him.

Rudy Soto was declared student body president May 22 because of new information about enrollment, after the Elections Board overturned a decision to disqualify him.

Chip Lazenby, Oregon Department of Justice legal counsel for Portland State, gave the Elections Board a document that said the standard time to check enrollment at PSU is the end of the fourth week of the term.

At yesterday’s meeting, the Elections Board decided to overturn a May 15 ruling to validate Patrick Beisell as ASPSU president, and validated Soto because of this definition of enrollment. Elections Board members said that the definition gave them their first clear timeline to check eligibility.

Created by PSU Vice Provost Dan Fortmiller, the document showed that several departments at Portland State use the fourth week of the term as a time to determine enrollment. The document also said that the Oregon University System uses the fourth week.

The Elections Board ruled to invalidate Soto as a candidate at the May 15 meeting because he dropped below a six-credit requirement used to determine the eligibility of ASPSU candidates.

Lazenby recommended that the Elections Board check eligibility of candidates at the end of the fourth week of the term, rather than the third week of the term, because of the fourth week definition. Lazenby had originally agreed with the Judicial Board, which ruled Soto ineligible as a candidate because of the credit requirement.

Lazenby said his opinion on the definition of enrollment has changed because of the document that Fortmiller compiled.

“At the time I took a fairly literal view of what it meant to be enrolled,” said Lazenby. “By moving this election to the date which it actually occurred, and selecting April 12, is contrary to the way the university determines enrollment.”

The Elections Board originally chose to check candidate eligibility between April 12 and April 20, because April 20 was the last day of the student government elections.

But Lazenby said the Elections Board should examine the candidates’ eligibility at the end of the fourth week of April, following the university standard.

Soto beat Beisell to win the popular vote of the ASPSU presidential election, 999 to 910.

Under the new definition of enrollment, candidate eligibility could not be considered until the end of the fourth week because of the four-week add/drop period the university maintains. ASPSU adviser Natalee Webb said she could not check the eligibility of any candidate during the April 12 to April 20 time period because candidates could add and drop classes.

Elections were supposed to occur during the ninth week of winter term, which is past the time when students can add and drop. Because the elections were moved to the third week of spring term, students could add and drop classes at any point during the elections.

This, Webb said, made it impossible for her to know when students were eligible or ineligible.

“I don’t know who was eligible between the 12th and the 20th,” Webb said. “The information I got out on the 11th is not 100 percent correct. In four years I have never been asked to check eligibility before the fifth week.”

Elections Board member Sean Larkin said that regardless of their decision, it seemed the Elections Board would not be doing the right thing.

“If we follow this new interpretation, it’s a double standard,” Larkin said, because they went through the elections with an incorrect definition of enrollment. “Do we apply the new correct standard, or do we continue to follow an incorrect standard?”

Larkin said the board previously made rulings based on faulty information.

“The fact still remains that the incorrect definition of enrollment was used,” Larkin said.

Using the new definition, however, invalidated Student Fee Committee candidate Nam Vu. Vu became ineligible as a candidate between April 20 and April 27, the fourth week of the term.

In addition to validating Soto as president, the Elections Board validated all of the senate and Student Fee Committee seats (excluding Vu), and validated Amanda Newberg as SFC chair.

Soto said he was relieved to see the elections finally come to a close.

“I’m thankful we used the right process,” Soto said. “It’s been a long and rigorous election process, but at the end of the day I think justice has prevailed. The students’ voices were heard.”

Soto also said he commended Beisell for his hard work serving students.

Beisell said he believes that someone at the university will appeal the Elections Board decision.

“I don’t think that the issues are necessarily resolved at this point,” he said.

The appeals process is confined by a short timeline. The new president takes office on June 1, one week from Friday.