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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Goldman’s enemies should put their ‘personal politics’ aside

Published: October 5, 2007
Section: Opinions

It has been a difficult couple of weeks for my friend, the Student Union Secretary Michael Goldman '08. At the Union Senate meeting on the evening of Sunday, Sept. 23rd, Student Union President Shreeya Sinha '09 entered the room to deliver her weekly update to the Senate.

But something was different this time. As Ms. Sinha delivered her usual report, there was a feeling of tense anticipation in the room. What happened next is not unprecedented, but it should be. At Sinha's request, the Union Senate expelled the press and all non-union officials from the room and entered into a secret session.

The result of that session was a censure of certain inappropriate disclosures Goldman made while serving as Chief of Elections. Although Goldman admitted to these improprieties, we now also know, thanks to information leaked from that secret session to the Justice, that an attempt to gain sufficient support to impeach Goldman that evening failed. But, for the forces arrayed against Michael, that was hardly the end of the road.

A week later, on Sept. 30th, a student previously unknown to Goldman, Rivka Miazlish '10, filed a complaint against him with the Union Judiciary. The complaint argued that Goldman's alleged improprieties had caused certain general harm to the Student Union. But Maizlish alleged no specific harm to herself, casting doubt on whether she had any standing to bring a case against Goldman. For reasons unbeknownst to me, and despite Goldman's filing of a detailed brief showing Rivka's lack of standing, the Union Judiciary agreed to hear the case and to bring it to trial. Moreover, this kangaroo court failed to address, in writing, any of the points made in Goldman's motion against granting certiorari. The tyranny of this court is breathtaking and would not pass muster anywhere in the United States.

We now know that, in the days that followed, the Chief Justice of the Union Judiciary, James Ansorge '09, made public comments that Michael and his counsel believe prejudged the case in favor of Maizlish.

“This is one of the most epic trials in Brandeis history,” Ansorge told the Justice. Such a public statement on the merits of Rivka's complaint is clearly improper as it speaks to the merit of her case. In addition, a Union Senator has filed an affidavit with the Judiciary alleging that, in a public forum, Union Senator Michael Kerns '09 conveyed the support of Ansorge for a petition to ask the Union Judiciary to impeach Goldman. The affidavit, which has been released to the public, states “Senator Kerns also said he met with Chief Justice Jamie Ansorge and Student Union President Shreeya Sinha regarding this petition. Kerns said that Ansorge supported such a petition.” Based on this information, Goldman's defense team filed a motion to recuse the Chief Justice in this case, and, I'm pleased to see that Ansorge recused himself last night.

So that brings us to the present. At the time of this writing, the Union Judiciary has issued no compelling explanation for its decision to hear the case against Goldman given the shaky grounds of the complaint, Ms. Maizlish apparently has not filed a single motion since she submitted the complaint, and we are left with more questions than answers. Who is really the prosecutor here? If the aforementioned affidavit is true, what exactly are Sinha's and Ansorge's roles in this crisis? How many more weeks must this mess dominate the news until Goldman's enemies accept that the Senate chose to keep him as Secretary?

All the while, Michael Goldman continues to do the job he was elected by an overwhelming majority of Brandeis undergraduates to perform. It's not a glamorous job: ordering office supplies, writing meeting agendas, taking minutes, and, yes, supervising Union elections, but it is a job Goldman enjoys. There is real work to be done by our Student Union. Students have pressing concerns about issues that affect their everyday lives at the university, and that is the work to which the Student Union should return.

None of this is to mention the tremendous personal toll this has taken on Michael or the degree to which this unyielding, arbitrary, tyrannical prosecution has interfered with his undergraduate experience. While Maizlish and her allies drag him through the mud, Goldman and his counsel are spending sleepless nights filing motions, writing briefs, and taking other steps to prepare his defense. At the same time, Maizlish is silent;

apparently declining to respond to any of Goldman's motions and ignoring a request to join Goldman in asking for Ansorge's recusal.

We mustn't forget the human element of all this. Though he is among the most extraordinary people I know, Michael, after all, is only human. In my view, Maizlish, her behind-the-scenes allies, and the cavalier justices who accepted her baseless complaint should be ashamed of their conduct. It's time for Michael's enemies to put their personal politics aside and to allow him to do his job. He admitted to the improprieties and still was not impeached by the Senate. This circus should have stopped there. There are real reasons so many Brandeis students are apathetic towards their Student Union, and this aggressive re-prosecution of Michael Goldman illustrates some of the most compelling.