As of May 15 Kristin Wallace and Dune Zhu officially assume the responsibilities of president and vice-president of ASPSU. Following their election victory, Wallace and Zhu plan to promote increased access, diversity and community at PSU in the face of an opposition led senate and looming budget cuts.
Despite the challenges, Wallace, a 19-year-old junior majoring in English, and Zhu, a 20-year-old sophomore majoring in biology, say they value the opportunity to represent the PSU student body and to fulfill their campaign promises.
Wallace and Zhu look forward to leading the new student government and representing the voice of the student body at PSU and in Salem. Wallace acknowledged the potential “butting of heads” within ASPSU, but stressed the importance of different perspectives.
Wallace plans to run a tight senate and demand respect of individuals, opinions and rules, including the two-minute senatorial speech limit.
Zhu, acting as the head of the senate, said, “I don’t see groups coming in, I see senators here to fulfill a duty and complete the common task and goals for the good of the school.”
Wallace and Zhu stressed the importance and opportunity of the coming year, which will coincide with the state’s legislative period’s commencement. They plan to join forces with student governments from other universities to contest statewide cuts in education spending.
Both Wallace and Zhu said they have lobbying experience in the state’s and nation’s capitols.
Among the issues facing the new executive branch at PSU are the increased in the GPA admission requirements and a potential eight percent tuition hike, changes that they are strongly opposed to. They argue that such increases would limit the accessibility of PSU, especially for students of color. Wallace pointed out that “out of the whole nation we already rate a D- in affordability.”
Wallace and Zhu also plan to work with ethnic studies departments to gain degree-granting programs for Black Studies, Chicano/Latino and Native American Studies in an effort to promote campus diversity. They hope to do this despite their acknowledgement of a potential 6 percent cut in the departments.
Wallace pledges to create family study areas and to defend the childcare block grant.
In addition, Wallace and Zhu plan on making student evaluations of professors and classes accessible online.
The full-time students have many tasks and goals ahead and have even joked about furnishing the ASPSU office with a bunk bed. At the least, they plan on redecorating and reorganizing the office.
Both the presidential and vice-presidential job requirements call for an average of 16 to 20 hours per week.
Wallace will count on time management to do the job and Zhu stressed inner-drive, but added in all likelihood he may “lose some sleep and drink some coffee.”
Wallace and Zhu will focus on planning, organizing and coalition building in the next two terms, but the real challenge begins next fall.