Student body President Courtney Morse has filled fewer than one-third of student positions, 27 out of 90, in PSU committees almost five months after the fall term began. The president of the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) is required to appoint student representatives to boards and committees at the beginning of fall term.
Morse admits fault for committees without students
Student body President Courtney Morse has filled fewer than one-third of student positions, 27 out of 90, in PSU committees almost five months after the fall term began.
The president of the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) is required to appoint student representatives to boards and committees at the beginning of fall term.
There are 40 total ad hoc or PSU governing committees, which range from bodies that advise on building operations to groups advising on how the university budget should be spent.
Twenty-three committees out of the 40 total ad hoc or PSU governing committees have no student representation at all.
Tonantzin Oceguera, director of Student Activities and Leadership Programs (SALP), said the lack of student representatives has been a problem this year. SALP advises Portland State student government and is funded by student fees.
“In some cases it is hindering process,” Oceguera said about Morse not appointing student representatives. “The work those committees do is continuing without student voice.”
The Academic Requirements Committee, which determines how many credits students must have to graduate, currently has no student representation.
Morse said ASPSU members are working hard to fill as many positions as they can. She said she and ASPSU take full responsibility for the lack of students on committees, but wishes departments and committee members would have helped her more.
Morse said ASPSU has not had the time or resources to fill the positions. Lobbying for more higher education funding, and registering students to vote were higher priorities, according to Morse.
“It’s an issue of the amount of work that has to be done to recruit students to these positions,” Morse said. “I should be the one who ultimately takes responsibility, but there are some structural problems that caused this.”
The PSU Publications Board cut the printing budget for the conservative PSU magazine The Portland Spectator in half–by $17,000–last Friday after the Student Fee Committee zero-funded all student publications budgets during budget allocations.
The Student Fee Committee (SFC) is charged with allocating almost $10 million in student fees to Portland State’s close to 100 student groups, including athletics and the Vanguard. The SFC zero-funded all student publications, which include The Spectator, The Rearguard, the Vanguard, the Graphic Design Center and The Portland Review, because the Publications Board did not review or approve any initial budget requests.
The Publications Board, which acts as the advisory board to student publications, had not met until Friday’s meeting because student body President Morse did not appoint any student members until December 2006. Now two students serve on the Publications Board.
Oceguera said student leaders talk about accessibility, being open and caring about students, but concentrating on larger issues has distracted them from the PSU campus. She said student government members may have spent too much time worrying about larger issues, such as the state budget, and not enough time on campus issues.
“To me, to have student government that talks about accessibly–wow, you’ve got to play local politics as much as you play big politics,” Oceguera said.
Morse said there are no crises among the committees, and said she believes most are running smoothly. There are some priority spots to fill, she said, including student positions for the Safety Committee, the Smith Memorial Student Union Committee and the Student Recreation Committee.
“It is difficult, you don’t want to just get random students that don’t understand the process,” Morse said.
Cameron Turner, senior editor for The Spectator, said there would have been a chance someone could have stood up for The Spectator budget if more students were on the board.
“[Students] have a large say about what happens on campus,” Turner said. “If there were more students on the Pub Board maybe this could have been different.”
Turner said he believes one student representative on the board, Cathy Jackson-Zellmer, has a bias against his magazine and said he thinks she should never have been appointed to the board.
Jackson-Zellmer, who said she disagrees with how The Spectator is run, said she was asked to be a member because ASPSU was “desperate for warm bodies” to fill the positions. She said people could perceive a conflict of interest in her position as a Publications Board member, because she disagrees with the way The Spectator is run.
Publications Board Chair Sharon Elteto said she has had some difficulty running the board because Morse and ASPSU did not begin to appoint the required student members until December. Elteto said she would like to see the other two spots filled soon.
Turner, who was the administrative director for ASPSU last year, said he oversaw many student appointments to committees and boards. He said he also had some difficulty finding students to fill the positions, but that he got the job done.
“It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible,” Turner said about filling the committee positions with students. “Shared governance is the most important thing for student government. That’s where differences are made.”
Turner said The Spectator plans on asking the SFC to repeal the Publications Board decision during budget appeals. The other student publications budgets, including the Vanguard, were approved by the Publications Board and will be appealed to the SFC next week.