Equal rights advocate position to be decided

Students at Portland State who feel they are underrepresented in terms of culture and sexual orientation will soon have an advocate working on their behalf. An “equal rights advocate” position is scheduled to be filled Jan. 20.

Originally slated for Dec. 23, 2002, the hiring date got pushed back about a month because Kristin Wallace, student body president, felt there needed to be a larger pool of applicants to choose from to ensure the highest quality individual would head the new position. Wallace and Vice President Dune Zhu are in charge of the hiring, as the employee will be working out of the ASPSU office.

Currently there have been only two applications submitted to Wallace, but she said many e-mails have been received expressing interest in the job. Her goal is to receive at least 10 applications through more awareness and publicity of the position. She hopes for more applications by the 5 p.m. deadline on the 20th.

Since it is a level-three-stipend position, it will pay $1,260 dollars each term for 16 to 20 hours of work each week. The job will span all four terms of each school year.

Kris Weltz, co-coordinator of the Queers and Allies (QA) office, feels this position is necessary at Portland State because sexual diversity issues need attention just the same as ethnic diversity issues.

“Wallace and Zhu included attention to issues of diversity as part of their platform when they ran for office,” Weltz said.

She explained that although the advocate position will be working closely with the QA office, his/her own sexual orientation is obsolete.

“We just have to be sure that whoever gets this position is sensitive to issues of diversity within the queer community,” Weltz said. “Those issues range from ethnicity to gender to sexual identities.”

She clarified the term “queer” as being inclusive of every sexual preference excluding heterosexuality.

Certain duties of this position include organizing around campus-based issues affecting underrepresented student groups, submitting of an officer’s report at each regular senate meeting, attending Diversity Action Council meetings and sitting on the Oregon Statewide Student Equal Rights Alliance board.

The idea for creating the position came as a result of repeated concerns expressed by students at Portland State that there wasn’t a designated body organizing efforts to make all functions more equitable. These concerns were fielded through the QA office’s campus climate reports.

Reina Abolofia, a student senator as well as member of OSPIRG, has been one of the key supporters and advocates for creating this position, according to Wallace, as well as John Melvin.

The University of Oregon and Oregon State University both have positions similar to this, Wallace stated.

“We are not creating this position just so that we can keep up with what the U of O and Oregon State are doing,” Wallace said. “We really feel it is something we need at our university to keep progressing and moving forward in a positive direction.”

Students interested in applying for the position are encouraged to contact Kristin Wallace via phone, e-mail or by drop-in at the ASPSU office in Smith Memorial Student Union building’s first floor.