Three student leaders booted from ASPSU

Student government has lost several student leaders this term due to students’ failure to meet grade and credit requirements.

The judicial board of the student government reviewed the cases of seven individuals on Jan. 21 who failed to meet the requirements. Of the seven, three were given exceptions granting them permission to keep their positions.

According to the constitution of the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU), a student leader is required to be “in good standing, as defined by the University.” Good academic standing is defined by the university as a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.

“My administration’s been having a problem with this, particularly,” said Erin Devaney, student body president.

Aside from the three that were granted exceptions, three other seats were declared vacant, meaning the student leaders were effectively fired. Adas Lis, a fee committee member, resigned.

“I was planning on resigning in November,” said Lis, a junior in international studies, adding that he also did not receive any financial aid for this year, affecting his personal finances in a way that gave him little free time to deal with the fee committee.

While Lis said he received an incomplete last term, his problem was not with the requirements themselves, but with the process by which students were informed that they did not meet the requirements.

Until recently, only the faculty advisor of student government had the power to review student records. If she found a student who was in a “non-fulfillment of duties,” she would give the student’s name to SALP. At the time, SALP was the only organization allowed to grant exceptions.

Two processes were changed in a January meeting between Devaney and several PSU administrators. First, the student body president and the faculty advisor would both have the ability to look at the student records. Second, the power of granting exceptions was given to the judicial board.

Some students are concerned about the decision, saying that the student body president should not have the right to look at another student’s record.

“It’s against federal law,” Lis said.

“I think it’s the right of the elected president to look at the records of students,” said Kenneth Godfrey, judicial board chair.

This issue will be put before the student body during the next election in March. Devaney’s administration is currently working on changes to the constitution to address this concern.

“It’s a conundrum,” Devaney said.

Two of the three students failed to meet the requirements due to medical emergencies.

“I had a very difficult personal situation,” said Mary Fletcher, who sits on the Student Fee Committee. She said, however, that she appreciated being able to argue her case before the judicial board, as she has never been in the situation where she has been forced to drop her classes before. “I’m a good student. I’m not a flake.”

Of the three that were granted exceptions, Church’s was the only one that did not deal with a medical emergency. His reason: he didn’t get any financial aid.

Church, who was unavailable for comment, was able to go to school last term and was threatened with ejection from the senate after he got an incomplete in one of his classes. Church assured the board a real grade was imminent. His professor e-mailed the judicial board testifying on Church’s behalf.

Judicial board chair Kenneth Godfrey had concerns about the judgment, saying that he worried that granting a student an exception for something that was in the student’s control, grades rather than a medical emergency, would set a bad precedent.

“I really wanted to draw a sharp line,” Godfrey said.

On Tuesday, Church’s name came to the judicial board again for not meeting requirements, and the board will once again decide if he should get an exception.

“I’m certain I’ll vote no,” said Godfrey. “No one’s getting a free ride for the term.”