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Ousted student president considering legal action

The ousted student body president of North Dakota State University said Thursday he's encouraged about his chances for legal action against the university.

The ousted student body president of North Dakota State University said Thursday he's encouraged about his chances for legal action against the university.

Josh Swanson, a 21-year-old senior from Maddock, N.D., said his lawyer told him he probably has a legal claim against NDSU for declaring him ineligible to serve as student body president after he won last April's election.

However, the lawyer, whom Swanson declined to identify, also referred him to another attorney with more experience in civil rights matters, he said.

"I'm encouraged by the fact that my initial attorney said that there is probably a claim," Swanson said. "I'm kind of disappointed that I have to drag it out further and talk with another firm they recommended me to."

NDSU students elected Swanson and running mate Dan Mostad to the president and vice president positions April 9.


A few weeks after the election, Swanson says NDSU administrators told him he was ineligible to run for the presidency because he had received a minor in consumption of alcohol violation in October 2002 and hadn't completed the required probationary tasks to regain his eligibility. Swanson says administrators told him before the election that he was eligible to run.

NDSU officials can't discuss why Swanson was declared ineligible because of federal privacy laws protecting student records. An Aug. 19 university news release announced Mostad had assumed the presidency.

In its Friday editorial, the NDSU student newspaper The Spectrum called for an emergency election, saying it's "the only fair, constitutional, American way to resolve this situation."

Editor Joe Schirmer, who wrote the editorial, said the Swanson situation remains a hot topic of conversation on campus.

"It's still a pretty big deal," he said.

When asked about the possibility of an emergency election, university spokesman David Wahlberg said administrators will be keeping an eye on what happens at Sunday's student senate meeting.

"If student government were to discuss it, certainly the president (Joseph Chapman) would listen with a great deal of interest," Wahlberg said.

The NDSU student court is the proper venue for appealing an election, Wahlberg said, adding he wasn't aware of any appeals being made.


The Spectrum editorial ripped the NDSU administration, saying "the way the University has handled the entire student body election has been one of the most irresponsible acts in the history of SU."

The editorial also said the administrators involved with the decision to let Swanson run for president "should be the ones who are forced to resign their positions."

Swanson said calling for administrators to resign "is a little extreme."

"I think they should have to take responsibility for what they did, as well, because what they did had some pretty significant consequences not only on me, but on the student body," he said.

Swanson said pursuing legal recourse has been difficult because he hasn't found any precedent for his case.

"So, hopefully the firm with more experience in the civil rights domain will help lead me more in an avenue that I want to go," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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