Gearing up for election season

With the ASPSU election four weeks away, campaign season has officially begun. Here at the Vanguard we strongly believe that student government can powerfully affect students’ experiences at Portland State. We also believe that our job is to help students make as educated a vote as possible. We hope we can be a force in engaging as many students as possible with the election. After all, student government is only as powerful as the number of students who participate in it.

With this in mind we have developed a three-part elections coverage plan that we hope will help students stay informed on what major issues are being tossed around this year, and who the people are behind them. Over the next four weeks, we will publish profiles of the candidates, guest columns and the Vanguard’s editorial endorsements. Our coverage will be principally focused on candidates running for president, vice-president and SFC chair.

Next week we will publish in-depth profiles of the principal candidates, their history of campus involvement and their goals for student government if they are elected. These stories will run in the news section and are intended to provide readers a window into the people behind the campaigns, what their experience at PSU has been and their motivation for running.

We are also soliciting the candidates to write a column about their visions for student government and what they see as the most important issues in this election. In place of our weekly guest opinion column that runs on Fridays, we are offering candidates room to express themselves in their own words, free from editorial judgment. In the interest of fairness we intend to run the columns from candidates running for the same office on the same day.

Finally, the editorial board of the Vanguard will interview each of the principle candidates and collectively write our endorsements, much like we write our regular editorials. This year we have changed the format of our endorsements; instead of just throwing our support behind specific people we will be evaluating what we see as the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and how effective they may be in office. Endorsements represent the collective opinion of the Vanguard editorial staff, and are intended to provide our assessment of who would contribute best to building a robust student government at Portland State.

Vice presidential candidate Ana Johns, who has served as the Vanguard calendar editor for the last five months, decided to step down from her Vanguard position to avoid the possibility of a conflict of interest. The Vanguard editorial staff agreed with Johns that resigning her post was necessary to prevent the Vanguard from being put in the awkward position of needing to report and consider endorsing a staff member.

Courtney Morse, who is running for ASPSU president, also currently serves on the Student Publications Board. The Vanguard does not appoint the board members, but I think it would be prudent for Morse to resign from the board to avoid any potential conflict of interest. Morse’s board membership does not impact the Vanguard’s election coverage because the publications board does not have any direct oversight over the content of the Vanguard. However, the board does deal with complaints against the publications and more importantly is responsible for hiring the editor-in-chiefs of the three campus news publications each year, which means Morse could be put in a position to make hiring decisions about someone who reported on her during the campaign.