ASPS-Who? Meet your new student government


At the beginning of June, Eric Noll and Rayleen McMillan took office as Associated Students of Portland State University president and vice president.

The new student leaders ran a campaign with a nine-pillar strategy report. McMillan detailed some of the projects they’ve begun to address since taking office.

“The [pillars] we’re going to most immediately focus on are the PSU Board of Trustees and the shared governance document,” McMillan said. “Without some sort of shared governance understanding and a strong relationship with the Board of Trustees, ASPSU could very easily, over the years, turn into just an organized, loud group of students without any real meaningful role in campus governances.”

“We really want to make sure that we’re setting a precedent in ASPSU this year, so that future ASPSU in the years to come have a firm knowledge of the Board of Trustees,” McMillan added.

Other pillars of Noll and McMillan’s plan address cultural competency, preventing sexual assault, student spaces on campus and the deputization of Campus Public Safety Officers.

Noll and McMillan have emphasized a desire to work alongside the rest of the newly elected members of ASPSU. In the Senate and Student Fee Committee, most members campaigned with disqualified candidates Marcus Sis and Erica Fuller.

“Everything that’s gone on really has the potential to make ASPSU ineffective over the next year, and we cannot afford to let that happen,” Noll said.

“One of the goals is going to be finding out what personal projects and campaign platforms can be meshed together, so that we can move forward on a policy platform that is representative of what all of us ran on—not just the Take Back PSU! slate,” McMillan said. “As far as [Noll] and I are concerned, slate politics are dissolved.”

“One piece of our work that I am particularly excited about is the development of a presentation I will give to the Senate at our first fall meeting,” Noll said. “Over the summer I’ll be working to combine and synthesize the goals of all slates during the election, to develop ASPSU’s plan for the coming year. This will ensure that PSU students’ needs are truly met over the coming year.”

“What happened over the past two months will be left behind, but not forgotten when we work to improve the service ASPSU provides to students,” Noll said. “We are going to have a successful year, collectively. [McMillan] and I are extremely confident in the quality and abilities of our executive cabinet.”


At a June 12 meeting, the Senate confirmed the nominations for director positions in ASPSU’s Executive Cabinet.

Former ASPSU Vice President Tia Gomez-Zeller has been confirmed as academic affairs director.

“This coming year I am planning to continue the cultural competency project,” Gomez-Zeller said. “Through the focus groups that we conducted…and surveys that we are collecting, we are planning to develop a cultural competency policy for ASPSU.”

Tony Funchess is the multicultural affairs director.

“It is my goal to increase diversity and multicultural awareness among students, as well as the administration,” Funchess said. “I hope to partner with the cultural competency initiative and bring about real, tangible changes that will impact the PSU community for future generations of students.”

Jawan Mullen Jr. is the student life director.

“My goal is to make PSU feel like home for students,” Mullen said. “This year, I will work with other student groups on campus to create a foundation of cohesion that makes students’ time at PSU more memorable and enjoyable.”

Jonathen Gates is the university affairs director.

“My intended areas of focus will be student input and representation in the hiring of new [vice presidents] for Finance and Administration, and Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, developing research based steps to eliminate sexual assault against PSU students and ensuring campus safety overall, [and] engaging the newly empowered…PSU Board of Trustees for the benefit of students and the university through respectful discourse,” Gates said.

Andrew Von Tersch was confirmed as the international affairs director. Students in the last election voted to implement this position and Von Tersch will be the first to fill the role.

“Through the innovation and restructuring of policies and support systems, I will create a lasting legacy that, when international and domestic students graduate, will be remembered for generations,” Von Tersch said.

Galen Russell is the equal rights affairs director.

“I’m most excited to reform ASPSU to become a space where students want to be, and an association that students want to be a part of,” Russell said. “Too often I’ve heard comments informing that students either don’t care about or feel safe in their student government. The former is workable, and the latter is unacceptable. Look out for changes in the year ahead.”

Elyse Cogburn was confirmed as the new sustainability affairs director. She is the first to take this role after students voted to transition the metropolitan affairs director into the sustainability affairs director.

“I hope to work with the university to ultimately divest Portland State from fossil fuels. It’s going to be a long and difficult road, but I plan on working with various student groups around campus, professor and faculty members and community members getting input, knowledge and support,” Cogburn said.

Jarek Hunger fills Noll’s previous position as legislative affairs director and Hayden Leach has been confirmed as operations director.


SFC members work to allocate funds from a multi-million dollar budget to student funded programs and services at PSU. The SFC is responsible for recommending the allocation of the student fee paid by all PSU students each term.

Student voters elected seven SFC members, and the Senate appoints the eighth member.

At the June 9 Senate meeting, senators nominated and confirmed disqualified SFC candidate Khalid Alballaa as the eighth member of the SFC. Alballaa expressed his excitement to join the SFC and has continued to express his disagreement with the Judicial Review Board’s decision to disqualify him and other members of his team during the elections.

“Although our presidential nominee did not make it due to the biased decision made by the J-Board—which lacks basic elements of fairness and due process—I’m eager to work with all members of the student government,” Alballaa said. “We can do a lot during the coming year to advocate for PSU students, but that can only be possible if we work together.

“After the best voting turnout in the recent history of PSU’s student government, we have a mandate to deliver on our promises,” Alballaa added. “That’s why I encourage my fellow student representatives to leave elections politics behind and help each other to achieve each other’s goals.”

Sonya Friedman is the only candidate from the Take Back PSU! platform to be voted into the SFC.

“I am interested in working on child care services because I had worked in the Children’s Center [in Smith Memorial Student Union]…I see myself successfully navigating the priorities workers and the student parents have in the SFC,” Friedman said.

Gayathri Narenda Babu is the only returning member of the SFC.

“I think that many students don’t know what ASPSU is,” Narenda Babu said. “Even I was one among them until I had an opportunity to work with ASPSU…I would love to enhance my skills as a leader and serve the student community with decisions in the best interest of students.”

Romain Bonilla was also elected as a member of the SFC.

“I ran to promote PSU students’ interests in and outside the university. Many of the goals I wish to accomplish relate to public safety, including improving on-campus lighting, implementing a comprehensive Good Samaritan Policy and protecting students’ privacy and confidentiality.”

Also serving on the SFC are Alexandra Calloway-Nation, Devon Backstrom, Zachary Snyder and Abdulla Al-Emadi.


The student Senate consists of 16 senators who are responsible for facilitating formal communication between students, student organizations, faculty and PSU administration. Senators advocate for and represent the interests of the student body at large by voting on issues and serving on specialized committees.

This year’s Senate is a mixture of new and returning senators from all three platforms that campaigned.

Senator Kaitlyn Verret commented on the function of the new student Senate.

“Thus far serving on the Senate, I am a bit wary about the passive-aggressive behavior and pointed comments and questions,” Verret said. “I think a few of my fellow senators have a chip on their shoulder for some unknown reason and are conveniently forgetting about the successes of ASPSU members past.”

“I am not interested in that type of politics, and I am here to represent and be a voice for my communities and those who have been historically silenced,” Verret added. “Moving forward, I hope that we can shed these negative energies and be an example, a place and a voice for the students and for PSU as a whole.”

Senator Linda Hoppes brought forward a resolution at the June 9 Senate meeting to overturn the J-Board’s infractions decisions.

“If Community Rising leaders Phoenix [Singer] and Sam [Matz] were made President and Vice President, I would have never put forth the resolution,” Hoppes said. “Once [Singer and Matz] were announced it would have been clear to me that the J-Board/Elections Board were making their decisions in an unbiased manner, then I would understand that the mess was more of a system error than an error of judgment.”

Senator Gregory Elkins joins the Senate for the first time.

“With ASPSU I feel like we can accomplish big things, as long as things don’t get too bogged down in politics,” Elkins said. “My goals for the year include working on the CPSO advisory board, improving the participation and outreach of the ASPSU food pantry and reevaluating the constitution.”

Melinda Joy is also serving as a senator for the first time.

“This year I’m working heavily for sexual assault activism and prevention on campus,” Joy said. “I’m hoping to partner with Students Active for Ending Rape to unpack and develop a more comprehensive sexual assault and student code of conduct policy with the help of the [PSU] community.”

Senator Patrick Vroman campaigned on issues affecting international students.

“I’m especially excited to make next year’s ASPSU election ballots available in other languages like Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. It’s a small change that could boost turnout and would help make ASPSU more accessible.”

Senator Luis Perez returns to the Senate for a second term.

“My plans include working to advocate for cultural competence policies across campus, helping dis/alter-abled students establish a student-led organization [and] recruiting native Spanish speaking international students to become more involved in campus activities,” Perez said. “I am always available to listen to student concerns. That is my primary mission.”

Also serving on the Senate are Linda Hoppes, Greta Gibbens, Lekzi Smith, Viktoriya Voloshina, Brea Walters, Saad Alnuwaif, Jefferson Wiley, Bobby Zaman and Khalifa Almarzouqi.


The Constitution and Judicial Review Board, also known as the J-Board, contains five appointed justices and rules on constitutional changes and interpretations. The J-Board is also charged with ruling on appeals from members of, or candidates for, ASPSU. Currently, the same five justices of the J-Board also serve as the Elections Board. This system created issues during the recent ASPSU election.

One previous member will be returning, Chief Justice Victoria Hutfilz. At the June 12 Senate meeting, three new members were confirmed.

Nathan Claus joins ASPSU as a new J-Board member.

“I plan on making sure that the J-Board process is clear for all to see and being available to discuss and answer all questions that arise about the J-Board,” Claus said.

Kate Lindstrom was also confirmed as a new J-Board member.

“I was motivated to personally participate in student government in the upcoming year after seeing how unclear language contributed to some significant challenges to the electoral process,” Lindstrom said, “and feeling that I could help address some of these issues to ensure that future elections cycles are more efficient and transparent.”

Also joining the J-Board is Barbara Payne. At the June 12 Senate meeting, Payne expressed that she has specific ideas and suggestions for making the ASPSU constitution more clear and efficient.