Berkeley student government successfully extorted

Henry Kissinger once said “University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” As I would tell my 21-year-old self if I ever ran into him today, that inverse ratio holds true by several orders of magnitude when it comes to student government. Yvette Felarca was disqualified in a student government election in a squabble over rules; she claimed (with the aid of precedent) constitutional violations and sued, which caused election delays because the government didn’t want to have to count votes twice; the student government changed the rules to give her her seat; the federal court dismissed the lawsuit as moot with leave to refile; and Felarca did just that. Faced with a demand to pay her legal fees of $15,000 or spending more than that defending themselves, the student government capitulated, and Felarca got both her $15,000 to drop the suit and presumably also law-school-application essay material. (Traci Kawaguchi, “ASUC to Settle Suit for $15,000”, Daily Californian, Feb. 11; “Editorial: ASUC-ing Money Away”, Daily Californian, Feb. 15; CalStuff blog, Feb. 12; Tina Nguyen, “Federal Judge Tosses DAAP Lawsuit Against ASUC”, Daily Californian, Nov. 16; Yvette Falarca, “Senator Justifies Lawsuit”, Daily Californian, Aug. 31).

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