Looking ahead for ASPSU

The new student government administration took office Monday, June 1, with all of their ducks in a row, except for five executive staff positions that remain empty.

The new student government administration took office Monday, June 1, with all of their ducks in a row, except for five executive staff positions that remain empty.

Associated Students of Portland State University President Jonathan Sanford has only hired people for four of the nine positions he has to fill, and the clock is ticking.

The Oregon Student Association training for executive staff is coming up on June 19, and Sanford has plans before then.

He wants to take a group down to Salem to lobby for higher education on June 11 when the budget goes up for debate on the floor of the Senate.

However, as ASPSU Vice President Rebekah (Azadeh) Chitsaz said, the team is interviewing and hiring for the positions together, and are holding high standards for applicants.

“We interviewed one person four times, just to see where they fit,” she said. “We are looking for people with experience, any kind of leadership experience is a plus.”

Sanford said it might take a while to hire on the rest of the staff, as they are focusing on teambuilding and taking a managerial approach to every aspect of their work.

Two of the nine executive staff positions are new this year. Sanford also decided to collapse the federal affairs and state affairs director positions into one—the legislative affairs director.

Jonathan Sanford is not eliminating the OSA Campus organizer position. That position is not hired by the ASPSU president and will be filled by a representer..

“We can’t tie ourselves up with OSA,” he said. “We’re the largest state college and we pay the most money to OSA, we should be more independent.”

He also added an outreach and funding coordinator position, and plans to add an athletics and sports coordinator as well. The athletics and sports coordinator position came from Sanford realizing his own inexperience and wanting to better orient himself toward the student body.

“[Last year] shows the ignorance of the old ASPSU, and myself in not knowing how to support the sports,” he said.

He added that he didn’t want students, including athletes, to feel as if their student government wasn’t supporting them.

Sanford’s plans for an expansive staff don’t end with new positions on the executive side. He is looking to extend internship positions to students, and add on more positions in the future.

“We need to have a team of flying monkeys underneath [the executive officers] to get stuff done,” Sanford said.
He hopes the internship opportunity will serve those ‘flying monkeys,’ and not just the executive officers.

“We need to build up interns for events as well, a project close to their degree program to build up skills and experience,” he said.

Sanford has his team meeting with the outgoing staff, as well as with faculty members who have positions and responsibilities similar to their own.

Central to this entire process, Sanford said, is the mission statement he and his team have come up with.

His mission statement reads, “To support and advocate for all students on campus by fostering a funded, safe and active campus.”

He and his staff intend to refer to this statement throughout every event, activity and meeting they conduct.

The first step, he says, is the agenda setter. He is sending out a survey to students through the e-mail system, class wraps and student groups to ask how ASPSU can best serve the student body.

Sanford says he plans to send surveys out every term and increase communication through biweekly “fireside chats” on PSU-TV, KPSU and their Web site.

In Sanford’s mind, the communication will go both ways, and he says he plans to do a lot of listening this year.

“If we can support not only students, but also faculty and staff, we can support the environment of education,” he said. “And I’m going to do a lot of listening.”