Editorial – Shortsighted actions

The Concerned Students of Portland State University have many of the right motives, and many wrong actions.

The Concerned Students of Portland State University have many of the right motives, and many wrong actions.

The Concerned Students of Portland State University (CSPSU) have written public commentary, and filed public complaints and questions, about the value of student groups and the way they spend money.

Although they are correct in valuing a watchdog attitude over student fees and the way they are spent, it would be indeterminately damaging to students and student groups if they were not allowed to have leeway with their budget spending.

And although they are correct in valuing student groups that serve all students, they are blatantly wrong in their assertion that the millions of dollars in student fees only serve a minority of students.

The eight student groups listed above have served most all students in the last year–from the 19-year-old first-year freshman to the 45-year-old single parent. In total, these few groups’ budgets account for over one-fifth of last year’s total student fees. Beyond these few, there were close to 90 other student groups (including The Vanguard, which received $174,453 in student fees) that served students with literary magazines, athletic clubs and professional preparatory programs.

It is shortsighted to say that student groups serve a minority of students. More so, it is uselessly argumentative and immensely ignorant to require that student groups have no flexibility when spending their budget.

Most group leaders inherit a budget that they neither prepare nor know much about before they take office. It is necessary for groups to have flexibility with their budgets, and it is necessary to trust that the group’s advisers–paid professionals–be trusted to help group leaders make the correct decisions.

It is necessary for the Judicial Board to make a decision that both follows the student government constitution and allows student groups flexibility when spending money from their budgets. Whether it is necessary for the board to revise the constitution or interpret it as it is, any other decision would be a disservice to students.

An abundance of student groups could benefit from the persistence and zeal of CSPSU. Though, it is necessary for CSPSU to stop wasting their time and others’ time on silly personal complaints that do not benefit anyone.

Below are brief descriptions of articles published in The Vanguard that reflect the impact of a select few student groups in the Portland State community last year. The events echo only a fraction of the impact that the more than 100 student groups have had. The budgets of the student groups are also listed–in total about one-fifth of the $10 million in student fees allocated last year. All budgets are from the 2006-07 school year.

Sustainability: $82,448

Sept. 27, 2007–The sustainability office reports that PSU has achieved its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy on campus, providing students with a cleaner, greener university.

PSU Recycles!: $42,371

April 13, 2007–Led by PSU Recycles!, an on-campus group promoting better recycling practices across PSU, Portland State ranked 19th out of 90 teams in a national recycling competition-meaning that PSU produced the third least amount of waste per person.

Smith Memorial Student Union: $1,041,086

May 22, 2007–Students and community members gather to eat food, watch dancers and singers and learn about cultures from around the world in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom at the annual International Night, put on by the Organization of International Students.

Student Legal Services: $263,991

Oct. 13, 2006–A former employee of Student Legal Services, Adrienne Nelson, is appointed as a Multnomah County judge. At the time, she shared with The Vanguard a story about helping a single student parent find spousal support for her son.

Helen Gordon Children’s Center: $789,452

April 24, 2006–Two staff members of the Helen Gordon Children’s Center traveled to Italy, hoping to learn new and important teaching techniques for the children of the more than 200 student parents who use the service.

Students for Unity: $20,788

May 17, 2007–Students for Unity elicits a strong reaction while protesting an anti-abortion conference.

Student Parent Services: $87,988

Dec. 1, 2006–A program within Student Parent Services provides single mom and PSU student Nadia Khater, as well as other student parents, with presents for their children, particularly if the parents are experiencing financial hardships.

Women’s Resource Center: $151,075

May 25, 2007–The Women’s Resource Center pulls in hundreds, possibly even thousands, of men and women attendees to Take Back the Night, an annual event with national roots that focuses on assault prevention.

Total groups: 8Total of budgets: $2,479,199