Printing the incomplete election results in The Vanguard Thursday, April 8 raises the stakes for the new ASPSU to undertake a thorough vetting of the electoral process at Portland State University (election results will be announced April 9 at 6 p.m.).
The invalidated results from the broken election in late March, “provided” by the Office of Information Technology, reveal a close election shut down by the administration at the height of the most successful voting drive in recent memory.
This is problematic in three ways. First, the inevitable “what could have been” becomes the torture of every candidate (less so for Harper and Klute who had achieved a 9% gap between their nearest competitor). Second, the new results will almost inevitably be impugned by the losing parties due to the obvious taint of electoral machination-gone-awry. This is no more apt than in the outrageous silencing of student Reina Abolofia. Despite Abolofia’s political trickery, the administrative stunt of demanding her silence is such an egregious act of illegality and plain inequity that it marks a tremendous new low point in student politics at PSU.
Third, and even more disappointing, is the way current ASPSU officers and the opposing political parties seemed to relish the action-that is until the whole election was called off. Candidates’ grumbling about credit card debt, classes missed, and unfairness is wholly ironic in the darkening shadow of the real issue: that they were not outraged that a fellow student was squelched in the very political arena that is supposed to honor student needs and voices above all others.
This is not to say that anyone is at fault more than administration and their clumsy handling of the issue (including, surprisingly and sadly, Wendy Endress). However, the winning President and Vice-President must take immediate action to address the entire process and be enthusiastically willing to establish (or request that the ASPSU Senate establish) an independent panel to undertake a thorough investigation.
Nothing less than an independent panel will be able to investigate the claims and counterclaims of corruption, political malfeasance and even calls from the Progressive Student Union for administrative resignations.
Some may say that an independent panel is too lofty for the small-time student politics of PSU. The reality, though, is that student political activity is at the heart of this university’s mission of community engagement and negotiating across difference.
Nothing less will achieve a meticulous understanding of the things that should and could have been done better. Nothing less will restore a degree of respectability and the possibility of progress to a newly elected ASPSU. Nothing less will restore students’ faith in a transparent, fair and functional student government.