Editorial: Unchecked adviser

How can students be expected to trust an adviser who engages in petty squabbles?

How can students be expected to trust an adviser who engages in petty squabbles?

Natalee Webb has told the PSU student government that no one will attend a conference in Washington, D.C., that the students use for networking and learning. It is a conference the Associated Students of Portland State University attend every year and plan into its budget.

When he contacted Azumano Travel, Ryan Klute, a student and long-time leader in ASPSU, says he planned to reserve tickets for eight students for the trip to D.C. Instead, the tickets were purchased. How they were purchased is still uncertain, but it is against Student Activities and Leadership Programs policy for students to buy tickets.

Webb, who works for SALP as the adviser to ASPSU, believes that Klute pretended he was not a student in order to buy the tickets. Klute says he merely never told the travel agency that he was a student trying to reserve the tickets.

After that, the “he said, she said” transforms the situation into a black hole of confusion.

What is clear, however, is that Webb is acting as the gatekeeper to ASPSU’s budget. Rather than advising students and working with them to rectify this misunderstanding, Webb presents herself as a proctor of righteousness and Klute and ASPSU as misguided children.

The only misguidance ASPSU has received stems from the animosity Webb creates. Webb claims that if she lets these students go on this trip despite the mistaken purchase, no one will be held accountable. She says she wants the students to learn that if they break policy, there will be consequences.

This demeaning and haughty attitude fosters nothing but hostility. As an adviser, Webb must learn to work with these students rather than abuse her role and isolate them by revoking their plans. Holding the entire staff of ASPSU accountable is the wrong answer.

Webb must realize that she is advising college students, not teaching children a lesson. Approaching these situations with such a stagnant and condescending attitude does not further learning-instead, resentment and tension.

She’s not teaching them by taking something away.

Webb says she has canceled the trip for everyone because she warned student body President Rudy Soto against letting this happen. She says a similar situation occurred in January-somehow tickets were purchased for another trip, when Klute was only supposed to reserve them. At the time, she told Soto she wouldn’t let students go on a trip if the incident reoccurred.

Realistically, it matters very little whether Klute reserved or purchased the tickets. The policy against student purchases is meant to prevent students from buying without restraint, and to keep the purchasing to the paid professionals in SALP.

But these conferences were budgeted, Klute has been in student government’s highest positions for at least four years and, plain and simple, nothing bad happened. At most, SALP should force Klute to stay while the other students go. But to punish anyone is unnecessary and to punish everyone is arrogant.

Webb’s headstrong and shortsighted pursuit to hold ASPSU accountable is to no one’s advantage. Rather than doing her job and advising students through these situations, she seems to be more focused on establishing herself as the person with the power–as the adversarial omniscient with the authority to discipline, whether it is necessary or arbitrary.