Only one candidate is running for Student Fee Committee Chair this year. Junior Tina Cooper hopes to take the place Tracy Earll has occupied for three years.
The allocation of over $8 million in incidental fee money to student groups is controlled by the Student Fee Committee, making the position of committee chair one of the most powerful student positions on campus. As the official spokesperson of the committee, the chair often bears the brunt of criticism regarding the committee’s decisions.
But that doesn’t faze Cooper, or Mrs. Cooper, as she prefers to be called.
She says she has the experience to deal with diverse attitudes and criticism.
"It won’t be anything new to me."
Cooper, a native Oregonian, came to Portland State University after a 15-year hiatus of entering the workforce after some time at Clackamas Community College.
She worked as a consultant for McCall Cellular, a phone company in Seattle, and did the same for other companies, expanding into credit management and accounting.
Currently pursuing a degree in sociology and hoping to work in the medical field, Cooper juggles a lot of goals.
Married, with four children ranging in ages four to 16, Cooper said that her past experiences and busy schedule have shown her how to prioritize and manage her time.
They have also shown her how to deal with people, a skill necessary for SFC chair.
Earll said Cooper is fit for the job, and said that in her interactions with Cooper she has seen someone who is interested in hearing the entire story, thinks critically and likes to communicate openly.
Cooper wants to take those skills into the SFC and open the process and how it works to students.
She said the SFC has a history of not being open, resulting in problems student groups have with the process of applying for money for the year, especially this year.
"It’s nerve-wracking and tedious for student groups. Why? Rumor and not having access to all information in a timely manner," she said.
She proposes simplifying the process by providing an orientation to student groups about the SFC process before the required budget training already required for student group leaders, and also informing students uninvolved with student groups about the student fee allocation process.
"I want students to understand how student fees work and what they pay for," she said.
That desire to inform comes from the feeling of exclusion she says she felt during her first year at PSU.
"My first year here, I did not like it. Information was hard to come by," she said.
Then she started to become involved, first with the Black Cultural Affairs Board and becoming part of the Student Activities and Leadership Programs advisory board and co-chair of the Multicultural Center advisory board, among other student groups.
Known for her standards of enforcing professionalism, Cooper said she wants to bring that into the SFC and the working relationships with fellow students.
"I like things to be handled in a professional and courteous way. We’re not just representing ourselves, we’re representing 26,000 students," she said.
And it’s not only professionalism that she wants to introduce into the ASPSU environment, but also change the role Tracy Earll handled as spokeswoman.
"Tracy Earll chose to be the spokesperson for the committee," she said, adding that all of the SFC staff she works with should and will be equally knowledgeable on the subject and should all be spoken to about the decisions they make.
The small number of SFC chair candidates this year may be chalked up to the position being one that does not foster a lot of appreciation.
Earll said that she has been personally accused of a lot of things, such as being biased, making the job a post not a lot of people want to occupy.
Another reason the role of applicants for the position is so low is that a lot of students just are not aware of the role the SFC plays in student government and life, Earll said.