The need for a third party
Unfortunately, for many people, the words “third party” trigger thefear reflex that leads them to shout “spoiler!” and slam the door.In fact, not only are there very different third-party electoralstrategies than those characterized by Ralph Nader, but some ofthese are vital to making our political system more democratic,both in the short- and long-term.

For long-term progress to be achieved, the political processneeds small victories to sustain interest in grassroots efforts,and diverse ideas and viewpoints that allow us to re-evaluate thedirections in which our society is going. Running third-partycandidates for local offices can facilitate both of these.

The two-party system is inherently undemocratic, a corruptpolitical monolith that does a poor job of serving the interests ofthe people. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of thepublic has stated in polls that politics is a game run by thepowerful elite for its own interests, which leaves them few realchoices on their ballots.

The solution is a political system open to many parties,representing a multitude of voices and political perspectives. Howcan this be achieved? It’s going to take serious and long-overdueelectoral reform, and right-thinking third party supporters knowthis.

One idea which is gaining a great deal of support is InstantRunoff Voting. This reform would allow voters to rank candidates inorder of preference. The winning candidate would be required toearn a majority of votes. This would eliminate the possibility ofspoilers and allow people to vote their hopes and not their fears.San Francisco has recently implemented Instant Runoff Voting, andresidents of Portland would do well to look closely at theirexample. The Electoral College system and the ways campaigns arefunded also merit a great deal of criticism.

Our nation’s institutions are in dire need of substantialchanges if people are to have any meaningful say in the decisionsthat affect their lives. While electoral reforms won’t get us allthe way there, they can diversify and deepen politicalparticipation and begin to crack open the stifling political systemthat has proven itself so unaccountable to the public interest. Andthat’s a start.

ID a terrible fit
This week student government and PSU administration held a seriesof forums discussing the implementation and implications of the newuniversity debit ID card.

The forums erupted in a volley of accusations and anger.Students and faculty claimed that the administration was lying tothem. The CFO of HigherOne, the company in charge of the debit IDcard system, smirked at questions.

Student government has initiated a campaign to boycott the cardsand the Vanguard supports the effort.

We also urge the PSU administration to end the contract withHigherOne.

We haven’t seen this kind of animosity between students andadministration for over a year, since an attempt to assess a fee onstudent activities failed due to vehemently negative studentresponse.

Much of this fire was stoked by the fact that students don’tfeel involved in decision making at PSU.

Our opposition to the card is rooted in the fact that theprogram is a bad fit for PSU.

PSU’s financial aid system has been struggling to distributeawards to students for years. The trouble reached a breaking pointlast fall term.

If three month delays are happening with all of the processingoccurring in-house, how is outsourcing the financial aid process(adding another layer to the already complex system) going to speedthings up?

We’re not looking forward to next fall, when thousands ofstudents line up at the three HigherOne ATMs on campus to withdrawtheir financial aid money to pay for rent, groceries and to fixtheir ailing automobiles.

But we’re especially not looking forward to when those thousandsfind out that they can only withdraw $300 of that money a day.

And we don’t want to know how those students will respond whenthey come back the next day and experience the same lines.

If HigherOne is a bad fit for PSU, PSU is a terrible fit forHigherOne.

PSU is the first west coast university that the smallConnecticut company has worked with, and the largest.

The way that the company has responded to student concernsraises concerns about their ability to interact with the large,diverse and rapidly changing PSU student population.

With all of these problems, it seems logical that there is somebenefit to offset them, but we just can’t put our finger on exactlyhow PSU will benefit.

There will be general operating cost savings by implementing thenew card and a kickback to PSU for transactions made using it. Butthe cost to implement the card seems to get bigger and bigger themore we know about it.

And what is the benefit to students or faculty? If you alreadyqualify for or have a bank account, there is virtually none.

If you are a student, join the boycott. If you are anadministrator, end the contract.