Something is rotten in the State University of Humboldt. At least, that's what former Associated Students Legislative Affairs Vice President Jason Robo is saying.
Robo, a senior majoring in political science and economics, is a self-proclaimed "scholarly revolutionary," and in the most recent campus elections, in which he stood as a candidate for student body president, he received 232 out of a total of 823 votes — just six votes shy of his competition, Luke Ferrari. Robo was expecting a run-off election. That is, until he was placed on disciplinary probation, which automatically disqualified him from holding elected office.
Robo thinks the action was a calculated attempt by the campus administration to silence him — citing his active and vocal criticism of them as motive enough. But HSU Vice President for Student Affairs Steven Butler insists that Robo was found responsible for violation of the student code by a neutral adjudicated process. For privacy reasons, he couldn't go into more detail.
"The ulterior motive of this," Robo said from his apartment Monday evening, "has been to put me on a leash or to get rid of me." If it were an isolated incident, Robo might not be so sure about the conspiracy to muffle him. But it isn't.
In March, Robo was impeached by his fellow students — illegally, he says.
Robo hardly ever seems to need to search for the right word. He rails against the administration and some former fellow members of the student body he considers their lackeys with a razor-sharp silver tongue.
"Obedience is only due to legitimate power," he said. Which is why after his impeachment he continued holding office hours in the AS office for his "constituency" — and in protest of his illegitimate ouster. But that's not why Robo is on probation.
At some point prior to his impeachment Robo downloaded a torrent (file-sharing) program onto the AS office computer which he and other students shared. He used the torrent program to download books, he says. But someone — Robo insists it wasn't him — downloaded a copy of Adobe Creative Suite onto the computer. Even though the Adobe programs were never installed, other users could still access them (torrent program of their own) and download it from the AS office. This produced heavy traffic and "shut down a bunch of [university] bandwidth," according to Robo. It also shut down Robo's prospects of ever again holding elected office at HSU.
Robo admits that the Adobe program was downloaded using his account, but he insists he didn't do it. It could have been initiated by someone in the office when he stepped out, he posits, or it could have had something to do with the fact that he'd been having difficulty logging out of his account.
The young activist admits that this latest turn of events has taken him by surprise. "I'm kind of at a loss," he said, a rare glimpse into a Jason Robo not raging against the machine. But he recovered quickly. "I want a run-off election like I deserve," he said, the wind coming back into his sails. "And I want to appeal my eligibility." Still, he says that his chances of getting any fair treatment are slim.
Steven Butler couldn't share any details of Robo's case with the Journal without Robo's consent, but he said that he "would love for [Robo's] whole file to be released and transparent." That would clear up any doubt about his guilt or innocence, he said. Until then, it's Robo versus The Man, and that position — unelected as it may be — seems to suit him just fine.