Meet the 2015 ASPSU candidates

Associated Students of Portland State University kicked off the elections with a “Meet the Candidates” event on April 3 at the Multicultural Center, where candidates were introduced and got to know each other through a series of activities.

There are two slates running in the elections: Step Up, Speak Out, Stand Together [SUSOST] and Students for Affordable Education [SAE], as well as two independent and four write-in candidates.

Tony Funchess, President, Susost

Funchess transferred to PSU from Portland Community College in 2013. He is majoring in community development and minoring in business administration. He is currently the director of Multicultural Affairs in ASPSU.

At PCC, Funchess was president of the Black Student Union for two years. He is currently Vice President of the NAACP for the City of Portland and the Executive Candidate Member of the Tri State Conference, overseeing 17 branches for Civic Engagement. He was recently elected as Vice President of the Urban League Young Professionals.

“I am really focused on community engagement and civic engagement,” Funchess said.

Through his involvement in groups both on and off campus, Funchess’ goals include spreading his values and reaching out to students.

“I believe in creating access and spaces for students who have traditionally been locked out,” he said.
Funchess’ said the SUSOST slate is focused on bringing students together.

“We want to be able to hear from [students],” Funchess said. “We want to be very clear on what the student needs are and translate that to administration to result in positive outcomes.”

His other goals include increasing the voter turnout and making sure students’ voices are heard.

“As a candidate, it’s not really about voting for an individual,” Funchess said. “It’s about the vote. We want a minimum of a 10 percent voter turnout. The more students who turn out to vote, the more power we have to go to administration and say ‘This is what students want.’”

Funchess said he would also like to start an internship program focused on leadershiip development and focus on making ASPSU more visible.

Kaitlyn Verret, Vice President, Susost

This is Verret’s third year at PSU, and she is majoring in women’s studies and minoring in law and legal studies. She would like to attend law school and practice civil rights law.

Verret is currently a senator in ASPSU.

“I want to move up to vice president to take on more responsibility, [a] leadership role, and have the opportunity to talk to administrators and be the voice of the students,” Verret said.

Verret encouraged students to vote, not just for her or her slate, but in general to create a greater voter turnout.

“Not many people know about ASPSU, or do not feel like they can come in and talk to people, or be heard,” Verret said. “We want to make people feel more welcome. There are also certain things we will be focusing on such as the deputization of CPSO, safer campus, sexual assault and tuition affordability.”

Dr. Khalid Alballaa, President, Sae

Alballaa is pursuing a master’s degree in business management. He has been part of two ASPSU governments as a senator and SFC member. In addition to student government involvement, Alballaa has organized committees that fostered multiple extracurricular programs, including a volunteer program to teach the public CPR and first aid skills.

“I started that program from scratch and built it with my team to be one of the largest volunteering programs in my undergraduate university, which is more than double the size of PSU,” Alballaa said.

After graduating from medical school with an M.D. and working as a physician for a little over a year, he joined a multinational corporation for three years as a business development manager.

“I decided that I was not just interested in serving few patients in a hospital but rather in creating entirely new organizations that can serve thousands,” Alballaa said.

Alballaa said he and his slate would like to focus on affordable education, a more transparent ASPSU, an equitable campus, smarter investments and engaging students.

“I plan to utilize my academics and professional business experience to help ASPSU make smarter investments,” he said. “For example, expanding the student safety net by [granting] the Student Pantry a baseline funding level for food and ensuring resource centers are properly supported and bargaining with [President Wim Wiewel’s] office and Alumni Association to create more need-based scholarships,” Alballaa said.

He emphasized engagement based on experiences in the past.

“ASPSU, throughout the years, was isolated from the student body, which manifested itself in low engagement of students in almost all ASPSU’s activities,” Alballaa said. “I want to increase student engagement by focusing on activities that create a strong [PSU] community where we can feel safe and have fun while we accomplish our goals.”

Linda Hoppes, Vice President, Sae

Hoppes is a graduate of PSU with a Bachelor of Science in community development and a sustainable development minor. She is currently working on her master’s degree in education and policy with a concentration in leadership for sustainable education. Hoppes transferred to PSU from Mount Hood Community College, where she was involved in student government.

“[MHCC’s] student government changed who I am and changed the direction of where I am going,” Hoppes said.

This will be her third year in student government at PSU. She created the ASPSU sustainability affairs director position with the help of community members and works with sixth graders as a garden educator.

“What I [would] like to see move forward is a really solid foundation at ASPSU,” she said. “The idea of reaching out and more process time, learning from each other, and having all of us and engaging with students I think is really important…How would we know what to change without reaching out?”

Lucero Cortez, Senate, Susost

Cortez has been involved in ASPSU since October 2014. Cortez is studying film production and communications.
Cortez said she is concerned about the lack of student involvement in campus issues and politics at the university.

“I want to make it as easy as possible for students to find information on what is going on campus,” Cortez said.

Liddy Champion, Senate, Susost

Champion is studying biology and was appointed for senator during the winter term. This will be her first election at PSU.

Champion is a front desk volunteer for the Women’s Resource Center and a part of the Reproductive Justice Action Team and Love Your Body Action Team. She also mentors local high school students looking to pursue higher education. Champion was recently appointed as the coordinator of the ASPSU Food Pantry.

“I am part of the University Affairs Committee and Equal Rights Committee, focusing on cultural competency, and also have been helping with the Sexual Assault Prevention Policy,” Champion said. “The main reason I want to be senator again is because I’ve been really enjoying what I have been doing so far.”

Patrick Vroman, Senate, Independent*

Vroman is running for re-election as senator. He started a LGBT support group at his past community college and has continued to be an activist for peace.

“One thing I would love to do is Town Hall [meetings],” Vroman said. “It is really important because one of the problems we are finding is that a lot of students are not really engaging, and we’re not engaging with students. There is a gap we need to close, and I think that this is one way to do it.”

There has been one Town Hall meeting so far, and Vroman would like to continue at least one per quarter in the future. He would also like to create multilingual ballots next year.

*Vroman was originally running with the SUSOST late, but disassociated himself and decided to run independently on April 17.

David Martinez, Senate, Susost

Martinez has been at PSU for two years studying political science with a focus international development. Currently, he is a member of the SFC.

“My goal is to empower students and create student power,” Martinez said. “I’m a socialist student of color dedicated to fight social inequality, political oppression, racism and police brutality. I’m an anti-war activist and student leader. I believe students have the potential to change society if they work together and organize efficiently.”

Shanae Jung, Senate, Susost

Jung has been at PSU since fall term and is studying political science with a minor in law and legal studies. She is currently a senator in ASPSU. She commits herself to various internships and volunteer organizations such as the Queer Resource Center on campus. Jung would like to continue the work of her committees as well as the ASPSU as a whole.

Hector Zaragoza, Senate, Susost

Zaragoza has been at PSU for two years and is majoring in social work and minoring in dance.
“If I am selected, my goal is to accurately represent the needs of students to the best of my ability,” Zaragoza said.

Wondemagegne Nevens, Senate, Susost

Nevens has been studying international development with a focus on Africa and a minor in political science at PSU for three years. Nevens has worked at Member Services at the Campus Rec Center and is currently a second-year Student Ambassador. He has also been an officer in the Association of African Students.

“My goal as a senator, if elected, is to focus on resource accessibility for students,” Nevens said. “This can range anywhere from getting information out to students about the resources available to them to advocating for more support for minority students whether financial or academic.”

Kathryn Vu, Senate, Independent

Vu is a pre-med student studying biology. She has never held office and wants to become more involved in student government.

“Not many students know what the ASPSU actually does,” Vu said. “I feel like we are a huge resource for students, and I want ASPSU to have more of a conspicuous presence for the school. I want to bridge the gap between students and administration, and I hope that the things that are going on can be more transparent.”

Monty Herron, Senate, Write-In

Herron is a student in the Graduate School of Education and has been at PSU for five years. He is active in the United Indian Students of Higher Education and other advocacy groups on campus. He wants to focus on networking, developing and the intersection of different communities.

“I’m running because some of the most pressing issues facing students right now are tuition increases, food insecurity, and there’s a general malaise in some areas on campus and I’d love to see that the work that’s being done with cultural competency trainings continue,” Herron said.

Luis Perez, Senate, Independent

Perez is a senior studying anthropology and is graduating this term. He has been involved with ASPSU for three years and is currently part of the Sustainability Affairs, Equal Rights Affairs and Academic Affairs Committees.

“What I hope to do is continue my work in the Sustainability Affairs Committee and fill the gap between ASPSU and the Food Pantry,” Perez said. “I want to continue fundraising for the Food Pantry and keep the shelves stocked, especially now that the tuition is going up. For Academic Affairs, we want to pass cultural competency and focus on education for students.”

Angel Ware, Senate, Write-In

Ware is a sophomore at PSU and has been involved in the Campus Rec Center and Queer Students of Color.

“Nobody really knows about Queer Students of Color, so by being in the ASPSU I want to get the word out,” Ware said.

Wondemagegne Nevens, Senate, Susost

Nevens has been studying international development with a focus on Africa and a minor in political science at PSU for three years. Nevens has worked at Member Services at the Campus Rec Center and is currently a second-year Student Ambassador. He has also been an officer in the Association of African Students.

“My goal as a senator, if elected, is to focus on resource accessibility for students,” Nevens said. “This can range anywhere from getting information out to students about the resources available to them to advocating for more support for minority students whether financial or academic.”

Sonya Friedman, Sfc, Susost

Friedman is an international student from Russia. She is a junior majoring in anthropology. Friedman has been involved in the PSU Student Union since her freshman year. She would like to continue her work in the Portland State University Student Union, especially working against tuition increases, as well as having a voice in campus deputization.

“I hold radical political views that has to do a lot with the state of inequality in this country that bleeds into the rest of the world,” Friedman said. “I see universities as the vanguards of social change.”

Keikoanne Hollins, Sfc, Susost

Hollins was appointed to the SFC in the beginning of the academic year. She is currently the SFC vice chair.

“[SFC members] need to keep in mind what’s best for the student body and what makes the student experience better for everyone else,” Hollins said. “I think it helps for people to come back who already had experience with the budgeting process.”

Hollins is passionate about giving back to the student body and wants to create an impact as an SFC member.

Andy Mayer, Sfc, Susost

Mayer has been at PSU for two years studying computer science. He is currently the Chair of the SFC, serves on the Student Budget Advisory Committee, as well as various other groups around campus.

“My number-one thing is getting students to vote, be engaged and getting them to speak out,” Mayer said. “As a member of the SFC, I want to take that and implement it into our policies.”

Jarek Hunger, Sfc, Susost

Hunger has been a student at PSU and with ASPSU for about two years. He is an economics and mathematics major. This year, he served as the ASPSU legislative affairs director and accounting director for the Organization Budget Council.
“If elected, I will work hard to make sure that our student fee is being used as effectively as possible,” Hunger said.

He continued, “[I] hope to see diversity supported and increased on the SFC and believe that it is critical to incorporate unique viewpoints in order to come to the best decision,” he said.

Jonathen Gates, Sfc, Write-In

Gates was vice chair of the SFC during the 2013 academic year.

“My goal is to prepare the SFC for their continued existence as part of a distinct body from the Oregon University System,” Gates said. “So preparing the SFC to have the infrastructure in place to handle the widely changed allocation time…and regulations surrounding the student building fee.”

His long-term goals include renovating the Smith Memorial Student Union, and including more students in senate meetings.

Anna Vetter, SFC, Write-In

Vetter is a graduate student in PSU’s PACE program, focused on student affairs.

“As a single parent, I am very conscious of every dollar, and I will bring this understanding to the SFC,” she said. “Student fee expenditures have affected me as a participant, a spectator, and as a student employee. This is a huge responsibility to allocate 14 million student dollars, and I am up to the task.”

How to vote for write-in candidates:

Some candidates decided to run after the candidate application deadline. Their names will not appear on the ballot and will need to be written in as follows:

Jonathen Gates, SFC: J. Gates
Anna Vetter, SFC: A. Vetter
Monty Herron, Senate: M. Herron
Angel Ware, Senat: A. Ware

UPDATED 04/17 5:50pm