Amid the continuing tensions between student government and Student Activities and Leadership Programs, student leaders say they are getting the runaround from their advisers.
At issue are two differing versions of why Natalee Webb, SALP adviser to the Associated Students of Portland State University, would not approve paperwork from ASPSU until late last week, putting a hold on expenditure requests and canceling a senate meeting.
Webb said the ban is a normal procedure for student groups who haven’t completed SALP training, which introduces student group coordinators to the paperwork used to access funds and reserve rooms.
According to ASPSU President Erin Devaney, who has now completed the training and has requests pending, Webb told Devaney she instituted the ban because student government was violating their constitution by having students on the senate who were ineligible for failing to meet grade requirements.
The incident follows a string of disagreements between student leaders and SALP, the organization that provides advising to student groups. Last term, students criticized SALP for interpreting the student government constitution and increasingly question SALP’s advice, particularly over the controversial decisions of student eligibility.
Devaney said Webb asked her to make a general announcement at a senate meeting that senators whose grades rendered them ineligible should resign.
Citing concerns of federal student privacy violations and Webb’s interpretation of eligibility, Devaney refused. She said Webb then told her ASPSU was in violation of the constitution and could not have any requests approved.
Webb’s account of the exchange is hampered because she cannot remember what she told Devaney.
“I’m honestly trying to think of what the conversation was,” Webb said. “I did not ask Erin to ask people to resign.”
Devaney did not hear about the training requirement until she met with Webb, SALP Director Tonantzin Oceguera and Vice Provost for Student Affairs Doug Samuels that she heard about the training requirement, Webb said.
“The whole thing about paperwork didn’t come up until the meeting with Samuels,” Devaney said. “But if that’s the only problem, fine.”
“I’ve been filling out forms for this organization for three years, and I’ve never had any training,” she added. Furthermore, Devaney said, SALP approved a request for office supplies before Webb spoke to Devaney about the paperwork requirement.
“Once it became clear that Doug Samuels didn’t think [asking student senators to resign] was Erin’s job, Tonantzin started talking about the training,” Campus Organizer Erin Linnell said.
Webb disagreed. “[The meeting with Samuels] was not the first time the training came up,” she said.
Devaney said ASPSU members has encountered this kind of he said/she said conflicts before.
“We decided a couple of weeks ago that we’re no longer going to have just one [student] in a meeting” when dealing with SALP, she said. “Stories seem to consistently change.”