Christy Harper and Ryan Klute’s year as student body president and vice president is coming to a close, and two new pairs of candidates are lining up to take on the challenge of heading the Associated Students of Portland State University’s divisive environment.
Both pairs of candidates tout the introduction of transparency and student representation into ASPSU, repeating past candidates’ promises about becoming a student government that actually represents student interests. Whether those promises will be fulfilled remains to be seen. The candidates’ campaigns are already underway for the March elections. Voting will occur through online ballots on www.banweb.pdx.edu beginning March 7 at 8 a.m. and ending March 10 at 12 p.m.
Erin Devaney, President and Molly Woon, Vice President
Erin Devaney and Molly Woon present a progressive slate that focuses on tightening the relationship with the Student Fee Committee (SFC) and student groups, a response to the recent problems within ASPSU concerning student groups’ displeasure with the SFC’s budget allocations.
The displeasure is nothing new. The SFC faces constant criticism, but some feel a tightened relationship between the groups would decrease conflict.
"The student government and student groups have become very divided," Devaney said, describing the direction she sees ASPSU as going.
A junior at PSU and involved with ASPSU for three years, Devaney said the student senate needs more power and a better relationship needs to be built with student groups because of a loss of respect for the student government.
One example she gives of that loss of respect for student government is the debacle over the new Higher One student ID cards and student protest of them on Nov. 24.
Devaney said it was settled with compromises Harper and Klute made in a private meeting with President Daniel Bernstine, which was not fair student representation.
Woon said that there have been accountability and representation problems with Harper and Klute. She doesn’t see them as an activist organization that speaks to the activist and progressive community that makes up PSU.
As someone who’s had no inner experience with ASPSU, some question Woon’s fitness as a vice president candidate. She said that as a non-traditional student she can bring a unique perspective to the table. Coming from a community college in Astoria, she said that prior to her involvement in the College Democrats at PSU she was that student who didn’t know anything about ASPSU. Hence she said she understands the non-traditional students who make up a large part of PSU.
As an SFC liaison with PSU’s Food for Thought Caf�, Devaney wants to push for more local organic food options on campus. One of her plans is to work on a Food for Thought catering service.
The goals Devaney and Woon have reflect the experience they have had outside of student government and with it. Both say they have had practice organizing and leading groups of people and both have goals in implementing the grassroots organizing that’s worked for them and others in creating change.
Amanda Barron, President and Lindsey Craven, Vice President
Amanda Barron and Lindsey Craven want to enforce representation with ASPSU, and say they have been talking to student groups, students and professors in order to meet that goal. What they’ve come away with are ideas that range from lowering textbook prices to fighting rising tuition.
Both candidates have a range of experience within ASPSU and PSU, and say they believe heavily in checks and balances.
"Students around the country look at PSU as a poster child for activism," said Barron, adding that the student senate hasn’t been using the power it has.
"It’s kind of a joke," she said. "We need to create a more proactive senate and give people a sense of their power, and give the student government mobilization."
To foster that, Barron and Craven want to focus on enhancing communication in ASPSU with the SFC and student groups, and propose an environment that, although formal in structure, works in a way that creates a comfortable informality.
They have chosen a group of people to support and work with them who they say don’t have a connection to the current student government and the drama that comes with it, and are also supporters of communication and transparency within ASPSU.
Their backing of representing students is apparent in their idea of creating a public polling process of students regarding decisions the student government has to make, taking the received information into consideration when working on student issues.
Barron said she really wants the PSU campus to be for the average student, and cites the reasons she came to PSU from Nevada State College. It was a place that attracted her because of its diversity and its urban attitude, which she wants to add to as president rather than take away from.
She said her work with ASPSU has made her familiar with the way it runs and the different levels of decision making, and is also very aware of student issues outside of PSU because of her involvement with the Oregon Student Association.
Both Barron and Craven live in the same apartment building, meeting through ASPSU last year and expressing mutual respect for the others ideas and working styles.
Craven said she and Barron want to continue the hard work that’s being done this year, continuing with Higher One and really working on tackling tuition.
Her two years on the senate have made her familiar with parliamentary rules and structure, and her involvement with ASPSU and student groups, like Queers & Allies, has demonstrated what she calls "a part of her dedication and commitment to PSU."
Both stress bringing reliability to ASPSU, and together hope to bring the possibilities ASPSU has for positive change and proper student representation to life.
For more information on these and other candidates visit www.ess.pdx.edu/aspsu/elections