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Legality of referendum process still in question

Despite legal advice from the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Evaluation and Constitutional Review Committee (E&CR) failed to make a decision on the legality of referendums at its Tuesday meeting this week.

The two referendums, one each from Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) and PSU Recycles!, sought to increase student fees to fund the two groups.

ASPSU and the E&CR sought the advice of student legal services and the DOJ in determining the applicability of a 2000 Supreme Court case that dealt with the referendum process at public universities.

The DOJ has advised the E&CR and ASPSU not to put through the referendums as it may not be legally enforceable if the students vote in support of it.

Wendy Endress, associate vice provost for the Office of Student Affairs, said the DOJ reported to her that such a referendum may contradict the idea of “viewpoint neutrality.”

This idea came out of the same Supreme Court case, which also indicated that a student referendum should not be used to fund or defund an organization.

Endress said there would be an open forum held next Tuesday from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for student leaders to have their questions about the legality of the Supreme Court ruling answered by a DOJ attorney. Questions can be e-mailed ahead of time to ASPSU adviser Elaine Vance at [email protected]