ASPSU president reflects on her term in office

In less than 10 days, Katie Markey and Ethan Allen Smith will step down from their positions as ASPSU president and vice president, while Adam Rahmlow and Pearce Whitehead prepare to assume their duties.

In less than 10 days, Katie Markey and Ethan Allen Smith will step down from their positions as ASPSU president and vice president, while Adam Rahmlow and Pearce Whitehead prepare to assume their duties. With the impending June 1 deadline, Markey reflects back on what she considers to be a successful year in office. 

“Overall, I think we did really well as a whole,” she said of this year’s cabinet. “There are areas where we excelled far beyond expectations, and there’s things I wished we would have done better.”

While running for the position of president in April 2010, Markey listed three areas that would remain a high priority throughout her campaign: an increased student voice in restructuring, issues of student dignity and student control over services funded by student fees.  

Despite acknowledging some shortfalls in her campaign promises, in general she is proud of the progress that has been realized in regard to student dignity.

Under Markey’s leadership, Portland State has seen the opening of a fully stocked food-pantry in 325 Smith Memorial Student Union, as well as a quiet prayer and meditation space in SMSU’s basement. 

“I believe that she brought everything that she promised,” Student Senator James Au said. “We really couldn’t have asked for more.”

Given more time, Markey added, she would have liked to continue work on the gender-inclusive spaces campaign.

“That was one of our biggest shortfalls,” she said. “It was far too vague; we just didn’t have concrete goals.”

She also cited a failure that has hounded ASPSU for years: lack of student outreach. 

“I feel like this is where we truly failed,” Markey said. “We’ve failed every year in the past, and it’s going to be difficult to accomplish this in the future.”

PSU has also been a forerunner in the debate on restructuring under Markey’s leadership, hosting town hall discussions and championing for amendments to Senate Bill 242. PSU was also the first school to create the Tuition Review Advisory Committee to provide student input on the tuition setting process, Markey said.

Though she has enjoyed relative overall success in her position, Markey’s mandate has not been without its share of rough patches.  

In April 2010, prior to winning the election, the Elections Board investigated Markey for her possibly unethical use of “Get out the Vote” voter registration cards in her personal campaign. Four months later, in August, Vice President Selina Poulsen resigned for personal reasons, leaving ASPSU without a vice president for nearly a month.  

In January, her second vice president, Lauren Morency, was terminated under controversial circumstances that put Markey in the spotlight. Still, her staff’s comments remain mostly positive as she prepares for her last few days in office.  

“Just moments ago, Katie sent a personal thank you letter to President Wim Wiewel thanking him for his support of tuition equity [SB 742],” Smith said. “The best things that happen here happen invisibly.”

Now, as Markey prepares to leave office, her priorities have shifted, and she meets almost daily with Rahmlow for various trainings and informational sessions.  

“I’m trying to pass on as much information and advice as I can,” Markey said. “Most importantly, I’ve told him he has to have someone he can trust outside of work. That’s been indispensable for me.”

While no less busy, Rahmlow is anxiously preparing to step into the new leadership role come June 1.

“As soon we get into office, our plan is to create a backwards plan of all our goals,” he said. “We need to establish how we’re going to accomplish them, and how long we’re going to take.”  

Rahmlow admitted there is going to be a learning period and a great deal of groundwork before his administrative reforms can be fully realized, but with the help of his soon-to-be-elected executive staff, he is optimistic that his term will be successful. 

“A lot of these events we want to plan, and the institutional reforms we want to enact, they’re going to require a lot of foundational work,” he said. “That’s what were busy with right now.”

According to Morency, Rahmlow and Whitehead already embody the shift in leadership style that ASPSU needs. 

“You can tell they really want to immerse themselves in the atmosphere here at PSU,” she said. “That’s what the job should be about, hearing the students and responding to their needs.”

Now, as Markey prepares to graduate and leave office come June 1, she is readying herself for a life outside of PSU. She plans to move to Washington, D.C., to pursue a career as a diplomat with the U.S. Foreign Service. ?