A message to ASPSU hopefuls and the students who vote for them

Year after year, the Vanguard emphasizes the Associated Students of Portland State University elections and the work ASPSU does throughout the year following the elections. Students may ask, “Who is ASPSU anyway, and why should I care?”

Members of ASPSU may ask, “Why doesn’t the Vanguard just leave us alone and let us do our jobs?”

Here are some answers:

We continue to cover student government with the intention to engage and inform students about the great responsibility afforded to a small group of people elected and appointed to student government. Engagement with student government is historically very low, with rarely more than 5 percent of the student body casting votes for student-elected officials. This engagement does not match the level of influence ASPSU can have in the PSU community.

Maybe students don’t vote because they don’t know who their student leaders are, why they should care, or if it even matters. We encourage you to study the following pages to learn more about the work ASPSU does and how it directly affects every student on campus.

For student leaders wondering why the Vanguard continues to emphasize coverage of ASPSU: It’s important to remember that being an elected official of ASPSU means taking on the responsibility of a public figure. Part of being a public figure is being accountable to the public, and the Vanguard’s job as a media outlet is to act as a watchdog. Communicating with the public through the media is one of the main functions of an ASPSU leader’s job, and this will never change.

We cover the goings-on of ASPSU so readers are aware of what their leaders do with this responsibility, and so our student government representatives understand they will be held accountable for their actions.

A message to ASPSU and other student leaders

For student leaders hoping to embark on an academic year serving the students as a part of ASPSU, here’s an inexhaustive list of what we expect from our student leaders:

  • Represent the majority of the student body, not only the portion of the student body whose ideals match individual beliefs.
  • Actively engage a broad audience of students in active and open manner. This includes engagement through the media.
  • Create a safe space for all students, not simply those who share the same political or personal beliefs.
  • Be responsible with the platform available. People pay attention. Do your research, speak wisely and listen more than you speak.
  • As a public figure, set a standard and be an example for ethical and professional behavior.
  • Spend time and student funds wisely by making tangible progress beyond political statements. Create lasting initiatives.
  • Navigate systems and utilize opportunity to engage constructively with the administration–take advantages of the opportunity to engage with university leaders that other students may not have or know how to get.
  • Be constructive. Be accurate. Think critically.
  • Act professionally in all mediums and platforms. Social media is never truly private, and the words you post online will always come back to you.
  • Be accountable to the student body. Respond to questions and concerns.
  • Be honest and objective. Actively work to avoid bias and conflict of interest.

As a media organization, the Vanguard is expected to:

  • Hold student government and other influential student groups accountable.
  • Inform the public. Provide diverse perspectives. Accurately represent perspectives from the entire student body, not just the loudest or most critical cohort.
  • Know the difference between acknowledging and empowering. We can’t ignore the things that exist on campus that are unpleasant or uncomfortable. With knowledge comes power.

The Vanguard is hopeful that our incoming student leaders will uphold the professional and ethical standards and responsibilities associated with being a part of student government.

Colleen Leary

Vanguard Editor-in-Chief