Conversations between Ryan Klute and Ana Johns are quick. They at once finish each other’s sentences while deferring to the other to answer a question. They laugh at each other’s jokes and even shed a tear or two when the other is sharing a fondly remembered story. These two are not only good friends – they are running for student government president and vice president.
Klute, a senior in political science, heads the ticket. He was vice president of the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) in 2004-05 and currently sits in the senate. His is a long list of accomplishments as a student leader: fee committee member, peer mentor, Greek council president and more.
“I’ve done everything in student government but sit on the judicial board,” Klute said, referring to student government’s version of the Supreme Court.
Johns’ student government resume is equally extensive. She is the equal rights advocate for the ASPSU. She’s been a senator, vice chair on the finance committee and has worked with student organizations from residence life to the Vanguard. Johns recently left the Vanguard to avoid a conflict of interest.
“I’m a super-senior,” she said. Johns anticipates graduating in 2007 with a degree in art, and minors in business and art history.
Klute and Johns said they were inspired to run because they feel the current administration is ineffective.
“There was nothing done about Higher One, nothing done about Sodexho,” Klute said. Higher One, the private company that took over the financial aid disbursement process in winter 2005, and Sodexho, the company that took over food services this year are two of the biggest subjects on their platform.
They acknowledge that both companies have contracts with Portland State, but claim they can “hit the bottom line” of both through boycotting, student education and outreach and working with the city and local businesses.
When asked of their ticket’s place on the political spectrum, they said they wanted to represent every student, not just the majority, and that stating their political beliefs would be polarizing.
“There’s too many people on campus for us to represent the small interest groups,” Johns said. Other major issues they plan to run on include student involvement in shared governance, an examination of student fees and where they go and the institutionalization of RatePSU.com. The web site, which allows students to rate programs and professors, is not currently an official site of PSU.
Part of why Klute said he wants to represent the student body at Portland State is the acceptance of the seemingly contradictory elements of his personality. For one, he is an “out” gay man and involved in Greek life.
“It’s part of my identity,” he said of his sexuality. “But it’s not the only part.”
Klute said Sam Adams, the first gay City Council member in Portland, impresses but does not inspire him. Klute does not plan to seek elected office after college, but wants to get a law degree and then become a lobbyist for social issues, especially for people with disabilities.
Klute grew up in Eugene where he volunteered with his father and brother for Arc, an association for mentally handicapped people. Working with this group during his childhood had a lasting effect and he is now prepared to devote his life to similar causes.
Johns said she sees her future as a continuation of what it is now: a balance between art and civic involvement. She said she feels most comfortable in the medium of creativity and public engagement. She plans to go into green architecture, where the focus on renovation of existing structure fulfills her idea of civic responsibilities and the designing of these would satisfy her creative hunger. She would also like to explore how one’s environment psychologically affects people.
Klute and Johns are pals who give each other glowing praise. They admire the other’s leadership skills, inspiration to others and hard work. And they enjoy saying it.
“There’s a little bit of Ryan Klute in a lot of places,” Johns said.