The candidates for the Associated Students of Portland State University’s student fee committee gathered Friday to debate in front of a crowd of roughly 20 people. Of the 10 candidates, eight will be elected to serve on the board responsible for allocating $14 million in student fees.
The candidates for the Associated Students of Portland State University’s student fee committee gathered Friday to debate in front of a crowd of roughly 20 people.
Of the 10 candidates, eight will be elected to serve on the board responsible for allocating $14 million in student fees.
Though the event was called a debate, there were very few conflicting opinions among the group.
When asked if they planned to raise, lower or maintain student fees at their current level, the majority of candidates said that they would keep the fees the same, unless a group that was in dire need of funds. The candidates also emphasized the importance of communicating with the student body about what the fees will be used for, as well as what the students want the fees to be used for.
“If students don’t want to raise the fees, then we must render our accounts to them,” said candidate Elvin Ramirez, who is running on the Harris-Yesenia slate.
Current SFC members Krystine McCants and Kismet Kilbourn had a different take. While they agreed with other candidates that raising fees should be a last resort, they weren’t willing to make promises about what they would do if elected.
“I think it’s a mistake to start out saying, ‘I’m going to raise fees, or lower them,’” said McCants, a graduate student in economics and public affairs.
Kilbourn, a sophomore in finance, agreed. “You can’t know until you see the budgets.”
However, both McCants and Kilbourn emphasized that the key to making sure the groups the SFC funds have enough money is to focus on making sure the money the SFC has is being used as effectively as possible.
“A better goal…is to focus on being as efficient as possible,” Kilbourn said.
Marlon Holmes, current ASPSU vice president, brought up the huge difference that even a small cut to fees can make. Last year, the SFC lowered the student fees by four dollars per student, Holmes said, resulting in “over a quarter of a million dollars lost this year.”
Most candidates pointed to real-life experience managing their own finances as their qualifications for SFC membership. Soledad Hernandez, a sophomore in health science, pointed to her experience as a first-generation, low-income student, and said she would make full use of the SFC’s advisors.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t know something,” Soledad said.
Max Werner, running on the Au-Now slate, discussed his position as a member of the organization budget council, which required him to help decide how $600,000 in student fees would be distributed among student groups and events.
When asked which programs they would like to focus on, assuming that it’s financially possible, almost all of the candidates mentioned the cultural centers devoted to serving PSU’s diverse student population.
Zezo Hassan, a civil engineering major, likened PSU’s diversity to “walking through a giant map.”
Melinda Guillen, a sophomore in communications who formerly wrote for the Vanguard, said, “There are so many diverse people here. They need a place to feel at home and [to] allow them to promote their culture.”
Elections will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, April 22, and will run through Friday, May 3.