*This is a full version of ASPSU Senator Karen Ulbright’s letter to the editor. The letter published on Feb. 15 was edited for brevity.

President Katie Markey’s use of her executive staff’s fee-funded office time to compose flippant and misleading editorial defenses for her dismaying term of office is a self-serving and unethical use of student resources.

RE: “Letters to the editor,” Feb. 4

*This is a full version of ASPSU Senator Karen Ulbright’s letter to the editor. The letter published on Feb. 15 was edited for brevity.


President Katie Markey’s use of her executive staff’s fee-funded office time to compose flippant and misleading editorial defenses for her dismaying term of office is a self-serving and unethical use of student resources. It is also unsettling that an editorial that claims to be correcting factual “inaccuracies” should contain such a multitude of craftily-worded and highly questionable statements. It is not at all surprising, however, given her track record of corruption.

“ASPSU is a student run organization that prioritizes the success of its students. Sometimes students need to take a step away from the organization to succeed personally. We now have a full, experienced staff that is advancing the goals of ASPSU and the students.”

This is clearly a sly response to the scandal surrounding Markey’s replacement of former Vice President Lauren Morency with the year’s third and current Vice President, Ethan Allen Smith, early this January.  President Markey and Vice President Ethan Allen Smith have done a clever job of suppressing the fiasco, and many individuals in ASPSU are afraid to speak out.

The truth of the matter is that Lauren Morency’s VP seat was vacated by the Judicial Board due to an incomplete grade, not a failing grade. Former Vice President Morency was told by the J-board that if her “i” grade changed by the next J-board meeting on Friday, the J-board would render a new verdict, most likely rescinding the seat vacancy, as is recorded in the Judicial Board’s minutes from 1/6/2011. Both President Markey and current VP Ethan Smith attended this meeting and must have been aware of Morency’s plans.

Before the decision could be rescinded, and without announcing their intentions in the Senate Agenda, President Markey and current Vice President Ethan Allen Smith mislead and manipulated the Senate into believing that Lauren was unable to continue as Vice President this term, suggesting that Morency had voluntarily chosen to step down and that it was “what she feels best for the Senate”, as recorded in the Senate’s minutes, 1/11/2011. In response to Senators’ protest and disbelief, Ethan Smith added, “The Senate could vote to keep Lauren if she wanted to keep her position, but she has chosen not to appeal.”  When asked if there was any way to postpone the new VP appointment until a later meeting, Ethan Smith replied,  “I’d love to, but if the VP isn’t approved by today they won’t be paid,” finally convincing the Senate to approve the appointment. It is difficult to view such statements as anything but self-aggrandizing and conniving. Since then the Senate has formed an ad-hoc committee to prevent such regrettable episodes of manipulation, as reported by the Vanguard article “ASPSU Investigates Former VP’s Termination” Jan 25, 2011.

This type of scandalous and dishonest behavior is completely inappropriate, and not to be tolerated in our leadership. Portland State University students deserve leaders who act like true role models, and exhibit qualities that we admire. Kindergarteners are expected to play fairly, but student body Presidents of major Universities are not? Is this really what passes for “Student Dignity”?  Perhaps President Markey should “step away from the organization to succeed personally” herself, resign from the Presidency and give herself some time to work on her ethics.

“The Senate and Executive branches work closely together to gather information from the diverse PSU community and to disperse information.”

Here she seems to be referring to a “survey” put together by executive staff which was announced at the 2/1/11 senate meeting to a chorus of protests and concerns. If that is what President Markey considers working closely together, it is no wonder so little has been accomplished. Worse, the “survey” that was proposed consisted almost entirely of such leading and off-topic questions as “Are you aware of the need for lactation stations on campus?” What on earth do lactation spaces have to do with the restructuring? Markey further does not seem to be aware or care that in order to legitimately pose a survey to students on campus, the survey must first be vetted by the Human Subjects Research and Review Committee. Her intention does not seem to be gathering data on student awareness of restructuring, but misleading students into a false sense of concern over issues that for many students are far less urgent matters than swelling tuition and the upcoming incorporation PSU.

“The room in ASPSU was converted into an office for SFC and the president to provide a secure location for files and supplies.”

It is interesting to note that the executive staff still have free reign of this “secure” area. It is also interesting to note that this sequestering only took place in the wake of the scandal of former VP Morency’s termination, a divisive act which fractured potential cooperation and fostered interpersonal mistrust throughout members of ASPSU. Markey also began keeping scarce office hours at this time, becoming increasingly inaccessible to all but Ethan Smith and her executive staff. Returning student-funded spaces to students was one of the 3 “themes” of Markey’s campaign platform, but instead she has taken those spaces and annexed them for herself. How much of this corruption are students really willing to put up with?

“In order to avoid future inaccuracies, we invite the Editorial Board to meet with us so we can provide you with accurate information. For more information on past ASPSU activities that engaged students,  please refer to previous issues of your publication.”

Given that the ASPSU editorial response which claimed to be correcting “inaccuracies” was itself woefully inaccurate, ASPSU does not seem to be the place to turn for factual information. If ASPSU provided all of its minutes and materials on the ASPSU website, it would not be so difficult to obtain accurate information on what ASPSU isreally doing.

My fellow students, we will not get better leaders in ASPSU until we stand up and demand them ourselves. The source of ASPSU’s power, to the state, to the administration, and amongst all student-fee-funded programs, is the legitimacy it is granted by the student body through our votes and our continued support. We have the power to change everything about this system that we do not approve of, if we are willing to start paying attention and take bold action.  Think you can do better job than a current representative? You probably can!

Please consider taking charge of our school’s future and applying or running for office this spring.  As last year’s ASPSU elections have demonstrated, literally anyone can win an election without promising anything concrete. Katie Markey won the Presidency, with less than 500 votes total, and is paid $900 a month, 12 months a year. You probably cross paths with more than 500 honest folks every day here on campus.  ASPSU elections are coming up this spring and in my opinion, and nearly anyone could do a better job.

Karen Ulbright

ASPSU Senator