New class aims to help prepare student leaders

A new course is being offered this term that instructors hope will prepare students to fill leadership roles at Portland State.

A new course is being offered this term that instructors hope will prepare students to fill leadership roles at Portland State.

The course, called PSU Leadership, is being taught by Student Activities and Leadership Program (SALP) advisers Natalee Webb and Michelle McIlvoy. Molly Woon, who won the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) vice presidency during the 2005-06 school year, is serving as the student instructor for the course.

The course is intended to prepare students interested in serving with Portland State’s student government by teaching newcomers how to effectively navigate the university before they take office. It is also meant to teach students how to understand the ASPSU constitution and explain the purpose of the multiple groups governing Portland State’s student body.

Woon said that a key goal is to teach incoming officers the sort of lessons that current leaders would have appreciated before they took office.

“The course is a great way for us to help students that are getting involved,” Woon said. “It will enable them to hit the ground running.”

McIlvoy said that the course is open to any student who wants to learn more about Portland State’s student government. The course is held on Friday afternoons from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The deadline to register for the course is Wednesday, April 11. Those interested in taking the class should contact Natalee Webb at 503-725-5653.

There are currently six students enrolled in the course, among them ASPSU presidential hopeful Rudy Soto and president of PSU’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity Dalton Higginbottom.

Woon said that guest speakers for the course will include PSU’s Oregon Student Association organizer Jack Galliano, and Dean of Students Wendy Endress.

“Our hope is that a core group of student leaders will have a better understanding of the student constitution and how higher education works,” Endress said. “They will be as best informed about their roles as possible.”

Endress said that she has observed new student officials spending the first half of their time in office learning how to properly navigate PSU’s government before they begin to operate efficiently. She said that this course will shorten the time spent learning how to function as a student leader.

“The course is basically a learning curve,” Endress said.

ASPSU presidential candidate Patrick Beisell said that the announcement of the course came as a surprise. He said that Woon contacted him about recruiting students just before the start of spring term and that he began immediately sending e-mails to potentially interested students.

“I didn’t see [the course] coming,” Beisell said. “All of a sudden it was there and I was asked to recruit students. I’ll admit that I wasn’t immediately enthusiastic–I felt like this course may be a direct move against ASPSU’s own internship class.”

Woon said that planning for the course began last fall, though she was only recently hired as the student instructor. Woon said she began planning for lessons over spring break.

McIlvoy said that she was similarly contacted to be an instructor very late in the formation of the course.

“I came into the game in the 11th hour and I wasn’t on the planning committee,” McIlvoy said.

Beisell said that the ASPSU course offers upper division political science credit, whereas SALP’s new course does not. He also said that the internship course does not require a textbook, though the PSU Leadership course does.

Endress said that she does not view the new course as in contention with the existing internship. She said that the new course is meant to prepare students before they take office and that the internship is meant to be more hands-on.

“I view the ASPSU internship and the new course as complementary,” Endress said.

SALP director Tonantzin Oceguera said that she and Endress began considering how best to prepare new student officials more than a year ago. Oceguera said that she, Webb and Endress met with Student Fee Committee Chair Madeline Enos, former Elections Board Chair Kenny Bondelie and ASPSU representative Monique Petersen, among others, last term to discuss their options.