Both Vice Chief Justice Ben Smith and General Counsel Jacob Gardner announced their resignations from Student Judiciary — the Associated Students of Madison’s judicial branch — this week.
Smith officially resigned from his leadership position and the body itself on March 4 at 11:59 p.m. according to his resignation letter, which he addressed to Chief Justice Will Olson and Student Judiciary.
“Due to academic commitments and preparations for the upcoming LSAT, I simply do not have the time to fulfill my duties required by this office,” Smith said in his letter obtained by The Daily Cardinal. “Serving these last two years as Vice Chief Justice has been the greatest honor of my life.”
On Monday, Gardner issued a statement which he emailed out to the Associated Students of Madison Student Judiciary listserv. He said he felt it was his “ethical belief” that he needed to quit his paid position in order to pursue the Shared Governance chair position for the 2018-’19 academic year.
“It is my perception that there has been a lack of interest and knowledge in regards to this position, and I feel I must pursue this venue to continue and best serve our campus and ensure student power stays strong within this institution,” Gardner said. “Interest in Student Judiciary positions seems to regularly be high, and I do not doubt the ability of the respective powers to refill the position.”
Shared Governance Chair Deena Whitwam told The Daily Cardinal that Gardner is “an incredible advocate for student shared governance” and has been representing students on many committees for the past few years.
While Gardner said he disagreed with “many of the anti-SJ politics that seem to be growing,” the ethics issue is a valid one, he said.
“Open discussion of private and impartial cases and sharing of bigoted remarks are two examples of things that ought to not come from leaders and employees of the Associated Students of Madison,” Gardner said. “While all sections and branches have had their issues, this year, it fell on the body which ought to serve with the utmost ethics, fairness, and respect.”
Gardner did not go into more detail about this, but said he had great respect for Olson because of how he dealt with damage control and problems that prompted “the close inspection of SJ.”
“Chief Justice Olson will not be here forever,” Gardner said. “I implore more students to engage with SJ, the ASM nominations board, and their student council representatives to ensure that Justice Olson’s replacement will be of an equally ethical caliber.”
According to his letter, Gardner’s resignation will be effective March 12.