The Associated Students of Portland State University’s current student body president is Luis Balderas-Villagrana, a junior double-majoring in global studies and political science.
Balderas-Villagrana is the first “Dreamer” elected to the ASPSU presidency and is a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He was elected June 1, 2018 with less than one-third of one percent of the student body voting in the election. One of the responsibilities of the president outlined in the ASPSU Constitution is to carry out and oversee elections.
Balderas-Villagrana said a primary goal of the current administration is rebranding student government.
“Every year we’ve seen a decrease in people running for office and a decrease in voting,” Balderas-Villagrana said. “I want to get more students to run for these positions.”
One focus of his election was collaboration between ASPSU and the student body. An example of this collaboration is a partnership he helped create between the student government and the Portland State Aerospace Society, a student-run non-profit group working to launch a satellite into space. Through the efforts of the student government to showcase PSAS, Balderas-Villagrana said there has been an increase of interest in the project.
Balderas-Villagrana said he wants student groups to ask how the government can help them. “I want to make a student government that acts as a bridge to these people, to the administration, to the community.”
Balderas-Villagrana also represents PSU on a statewide level. As president, he sits on the board of the Oregon Students Association, a student-led advocacy and organizing non-profit. As a representative of PSU, he meets with members of Oregon’s legislature and the governor on issues affecting PSU students.
Balderas-Villagrana cited expected tuition hikes as an important issue for all students. “That’s something that I’m definitely going to have a lot of contact with Salem about,” he said. He considers it his role—and the role of ASPSU—to see that tuition remains stable for all students.
Balderas-Villagrana said he sees the role of his student government as a group that can innovate on current institutions.
“If we’re being the leaders—saying we’re going do the work, here’s how we’re going do it, here’s the system, here’s the funding and everything—then other universities can do the same thing as us. That’s what I want student government to become in our university.”