ASPSU meeting approves student fee increase, position changes

At their biweekly meeting on April 21, the Associated Students of Portland State University enacted a number of changes and moved closer to approving others.

The meeting began with an address from PSU President Wim Wiewel, who reached out to ASPSU in an effort to bring PSU’s administration into greater contact with students. He spoke of the importance of building a strong relationship between the PSU administration and the student body. Eric Noll, ASPSU’s legislative affairs director, hopes this will become a trend.

“Contact between the president and ASPSU as a whole has been nonexistent until Monday night,” Noll said. “There are a lot of ways to legitimize ASPSU. Part of that legitimacy feeds into the ability to have meetings with the president. Hopefully in the future we’ll have better communication and more of a relationship with the administrative office.”

Following Wiewel’s address, the ASPSU senate got to work on a lengthy agenda.

The meeting covered Wiewel’s approval of a new incidental fee budget, which is used to fund Smith Memorial Student Union and student groups, among other things. The new budget includes a $2 increase per student in student fees, bringing student fees each term from $216 to $218.

“This is money that is paid by students and goes directly back to students,” Noll said. “It keeps our recreation center free to students, pays for resources, events, student government and athletics.” The fees paid by students each term fund all student-led organizations.

“I know a fee increase doesn’t look good to students, but this is a strategic decision made after careful deliberation during the entire winter term,” Noll added.

The senate also approved changes in multiple directorial positions within ASPSU, and has officially implemented the international affairs director as a new appointed position in the upcoming year. The new director fills a gap within ASPSU for representation of PSU’s large international student demographic. The international affairs director will work with and advocate for PSU international students to help them understand student rights and gain greater access to educational resources.

Also approved was the replacement of the position of metropolitan affairs director, which will become the new sustainability affairs director. The new position will maintain most of the old position’s responsibilities. Both this position and that of the international affairs director are to be sent to the ballot for student body approval.

“The new job description will have more of a focus on connecting different student groups and other sustainability initiatives,” said current Metropolitan Affairs Director Linda Hoppes. “Because PSU focuses on sustainability, it’s important to have a representative for sustainability within ASPSU.”

Also on the agenda were constitutional changes. A constitutional review board has been evaluating the constitution since before spring break. After deliberation in previous months, the review board presented its first proposal of constitutional changes on Monday.

Many of the proposed changes redistribute responsibility between the ASPSU president, vice president and chief of staff positions. “There were multiple significant changes across the entire constitution. We had a lengthy discussion, but no decision was made—with the exception of referring back to the review committee. Next meeting it’s either voted up or down,” Noll said. After the senate further reviews the changes, the proposed amendments will be sent to a student body vote.

The meeting concluded with an update on student elections. Student voting for new ASPSU leadership begins May 16.

“Our main priority for our leadership in ASPSU this year is elections turnout and legitimizing ASPSU,” Noll said. The senate called upon ASPSU members who will not be running for re-election to promote student involvement through informational booths and outreach events.

Applications for ASPSU candidacy were due Friday, with president/vice president teams due May 9. Current student body Vice President Tia Gomez-Zeller said that ASPSU advisers have received about 50
campaign applications.

“Last year we had 28 people officially running,” Gomez-Zeller said. Student voters also have the opportunity to write in candidates for leadership. Those who have applied for candidacy will soon begin assembling campaign teams, attending meet-and-greets and participating in candidate debates.

This article has been edited to reflect the following: the international affairs director and the sustainability affairs director positions have not yet been enacted. The two positions were approved for inclusion on an upcoming ballot and will be subject to a referendum with other constitutional changes.