I want to take this opportunity to communicate with you, the student body, to inform you of what we are doing to fulfill the promises that Vice President-elect Jesse Bufton and I have made. The editors of the Vanguard have commented [“The election is over, now do something,” March 14] that they would like to see activity from us beforehand to ensure a successful start for ASPSU in the coming year. We agree that this is imperative as well. There is roughly a three-month window before we take office that goes beyond just planning campaigns. In order to be truly successful, we are working now to reach out, develop leadership and work with student groups so that when we take office we will be able to hit the ground running.
Firstly, I would like to say that our entire slate, as well as other elected officials that I have talked to, are extremely excited to utilize ASPSU to make this university truly better. We have many high goals ranging from working to make your tuition more affordable, increasing diversity here on campus and shifting this university to more sustainable policies.
Working with the Oregon Student Association during a legislative year is critical to ensuring our voice in higher education. Next year, a proposal will be made to increase the cost of tuition so the state can increase the aid needed to combat these hikes. We feel that this is an extremely risky approach, seeing that currently we can only fulfill the needs of 70 percent of students who are eligible to receive the Oregon Opportunity Grant. With the president’s cuts to higher education, we will feel the effects here at home. We are now planning how we will ensure that PSU’s voice is heard in Salem. Gathering public comment, conducting action days and going to Salem are important steps towards preventing this damaging policy. We will also prioritize student childcare. In Oregon, 700 students are on the waiting list to receive assistance; if we lobbied to increase the program’s funding by $500,000 we could assist 100 more student-parents to make ends meet.
We will not ignore the problems Higher One brings to the students of this campus. Many students, especially incoming transfer students and freshmen, are not aware of the risks associated with activating their Higher One accounts. We are planning how to engage and encourage students to lower the activation rate and get a free opt-out by the time we leave office.
Establishing a strong ethnic studies program that includes majors and departments has been a goal of several elected officials coming in and out of ASPSU. However, what has been lacking is any concrete strategy for this to occur. We are drafting an ethnic studies plan that includes a timeline for these majors and departments to be established. We are going to elevate the issue on campus by holding events, forums and gathering student comment. We will network with universities that have established these programs to convince our administration to commit to establishing ethnic studies majors and departments. Ultimately, success would mean a signed contract proposed by students.
In order to bring queer studies and religious studies to campus, we are building a coalition of groups and services including the Queer Resource Center, to have the university also commit to providing these classes. Getting specific professors who are capable of teaching in these fields to provide these classes is a viable way to bring these programs to PSU.
Networking now with sustainable, environmentally-focused groups is the first step toward achieving our sustainability platform. Developing leaders now, who are invested in these campaigns, will improve momentum once we launch the Campus Climate Challenge. We are also designing a campaign to monitor water and paper consumption at PSU. Advocates for Responsible Solutions, Food For Thought Cafe and PSU Recycles! are key players that will work with ASPSU next year to accomplish such tasks.
It is important to be very open about how we will accomplish these goals. We hope to use several outlets of campus media, as well as general visible activity to update you on the progress of our platform. Our slate has been meeting to set these specific, achievable goals for each platform issue. Next Thursday will be the very first time that both slates will meet to discuss our platform and tactics. We will continue to meet every week throughout the term. Each elected official is also a part of a task force to encourage immediate activity on these issues in spring term.
I invite the student body to get involved, now, with student government. Part of being successful is ensuring that our executive staff is not only filled, but prepared and ready once they take office. Student leaders can work with the current executive staff to ensure a smooth transition.
The most rewarding part of accepting our positions is talking with students about what they would like to see. My slate and I have been brainstorming things we would like to change about ASPSU, and how we are going to communicate with students. Strolling around in the Park Blocks and planning with elected officials already is exactly the energy that ASPSU needs to accomplish the goals we promised. We are extremely excited to work for students and move this university in a direction that everyone can be a part of.