In response to the Feb. 13 article entitled “Lawsuit Leads to Policy Change in Student Government,” it is apparent that Broadside did not accurately represent the entire story.

According to the public minutes from the Oct. 18, 2011 meeting of the Government and Academic Affairs committee, Michael Jordan came up for appointment to the George Mason Student Senate. The committee chose to vote by secret ballot after committee members voiced concerns to Chairman Matthew Short about how they felt they could not vote how they wanted due to the fear that another member of the committee would seek retribution against them. Chairman Short listened to the concerns of his committee members and voted via secret ballot. According to the minutes, after the decision to vote via secret ballot was made, Senator Donald Garrett, also a member of the G&A committee, voiced his concerns that secret ballot voting was illegal under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Chairman Short continued the meeting over Garrett’s objections, and Jordan was defeated by a vote of three yeas, three nays and three abstentions.

On Dec. 1, over a month after the vote on Oct. 18, Jordan filed his lawsuit, beginning the court case Jordan v. Short. Shortly following notification of the filing, Student Government changed its voting procedures on Dec. 1 to bring them in line with FOIA. Yet Michael Jordan continued with his lawsuit.

Various details of the case soon emerged that bring several important questions to the forefront. If Jordan’s real goal was to bring about change in policy at Student Government, why didn’t he drop his lawsuit after the change was made? Did Jordan go through the channels available to him at the university level before deciding to pursue legal action in state courts? Additionally, why did Senator Garrett choose to raise objections at the Oct. 18 meeting about secret ballot voting instead of other meetings where secret ballots were used?

As an outside observer, it seems to me that this was not a moral crusade, but rather a sort of nuisance devised in order to railroad certain members of Student Government. If Michael Jordan really wanted to change ballot procedures, he would have dropped his lawsuit against Short right after the policy change was made. He would have accepted an offer to redo the vote under the new ballot procedures, and he would have decided not to go to court. This does not look like it was an attempt to change policy; it looks like it was harassment.


Zack High, freshman,  civil, environmental and infrastructure engineering major