A week of student power

Student Power Week 2014 began Monday, Feb. 17 and runs through Feb. 22. It consists of several workshops and events aimed at bringing different student groups together and helping students realize the power they have to effectively bring about change to the university environment.

Cameron Frank, a Portland State University Student Union organizer and coordinator with Students for Unity, said Student Power Week was started because he and other students involved in these groups didn’t see needed changes happening at PSU.

“[We want to] empower students with a greater understanding of what we ourselves can accomplish,” he said.

Christina Kane, also a coordinator with the Student Action Coalition, said that the week is meant to show different angles of student empowerment.

“[We want to] build more interconnectivity between student groups on campus,” and “rebuild a culture of engagement and student empowerment,” she said.

Among the events is a talk by Chilean student unionists on Feb. 18.

The Chilean students have changed higher education in Chile, Frank said, which is why they were asked to speak at an event.

“These things are really possible,” he said.

Kane agreed, saying the Chilean students have had a long fight for free higher education.

“They’ll [talk about their experience], share tips and ideas, what worked and what didn’t,” she said.

Shaundra Heide, of PSU’s Food Action Collective, said they’re in the process of developing their campaign to change the process of food consumption on campus to make it healthier and more sustainable. Their social hour will be a general discussion about food issues on campus.

“We want input from students: what they want, changes they’d like to see,” she said. “We wanted to do this in conjunction with Student Power Week because it’s really important for student groups to come together and work on these things. I feel like there [are many] student groups working on similar projects, and coming together really helps to get things done.

“It’s a powerful way to bring people together.”

The Student Power Convergence on Feb. 22 will be a place to foster communication between the different student groups, Kane said.

“We’ll talk about shared campaigns and how we can support each other’s work,” she said.

Frank described the Student Power Convergence as the icing on the cake.

“We’ve been talking to other student groups and seeing what they’re working, how they would change PSU. The convergence is a hub to discuss shared projects we can take on for change,” he said.

“We want to show the urgency of building a more empowered and connected student body at PSU.”

A complete description of the events during Student Power Week is available at PSUSU’s website, located at psusu.org/student-power-week-2014.html and on their Facebook page, facebook.com/psustudentunion.