The election is over, now do something

Yet another Portland State student election season ended Friday, with Progressive slate presidential and vice presidential candidates Courtney Morse and Jesse Bufton defeating opponents Ryan Klute and Ana Johns by just 17 votes.

Progressives did well in the Student Fee Committee elections as well. Progressive candidate Madeline Enos won a decisive victory in her bid for SFC chair, and Progressives also took five of six elected member positions.

The Vanguard endorsed Morse/Bufton and Enos for their respective positions, and we stand by our opinion that they are the right choices for their offices. But that doesn’t mean we’re letting them off easy.

The Progressive slate’s platform includes some lofty goals, and if they are going to accomplish any of them, they have a lot of work to do, even before they take office after spring term.

One of the biggest complaints about this year’s student government is that they haven’t really done anything – a criticism that, in many ways, is deserved.

Morse and Bufton should learn from the mistakes of past administrations if they are to be effective next year. Here are four specific goals we would like to see Morse and Bufton focus on:


Start working now. Student government is a slow-moving ship. If student leaders wait until fall term, or even summer term to get started organizing campaigns, the battles can often already be lost by the time students are organized and a plan is made. Broad goals like expanding diversity programs, fighting for affordability, and promoting sustainability need to be honed down into specific strategies with measurable benchmarks to track success. The time to develop these plans of action is now, and they should be well publicized to attract passionate students to causes before campaigns get started.


Pick short-term, manageable projects first. If student leaders, and for that matter students in general, don’t see results from student government right away, they won’t be confident of the chances of longer-term campaigns being successful. A perceived lack of progress causes students to abandon of the process early, and then all hope for real substantial change is lost. For this reason, student government should pick a few short-term, attainable goals, accomplish them straight out of the gate, and publicize them heavily. This will show students that student government can be effective and inspire more students to get involved.


Don’t get caught up in obstructionist in-fighting. One of the biggest problems this year for ASPSU has been a divisive environment where too often student leaders independently focused on their pet issues instead of working together on larger campaigns. If student government is going to accomplish anything substantial next year it is imperative that student leaders find common ground and avoid getting mired in furthering personal agendas.


Utilize the strengths of other student leaders. The Progressive slate may be in power, but they should look beyond ideology and appoint students to key positions based on their passion and ability to do the work. A cohesive, driven executive staff is crucial to any hope of real accomplishment in student government. But so is building a team that has diverse opinions and varied skills.


Also, Klute, Johns, Mario Campbell and Mayela Herrera may have lost the election, but that doesn’t mean they should give up on being involved students at PSU. There are too few of them as it is. Out of 25,000 students, perhaps a few hundred actually contribute back to the university in any given year.

Both Klute and Johns have a long track record of contributing to building student life programs at PSU, through their involvement with Residence Life, Portland State’s Greek system, and University Studies peer mentoring, to name just a few. Their contributions should not go unrecognized, and we hope that they will continue their efforts in building student life a PSU.

Campbell and Herrera also have been heavily involved at PSU this year. Campbell has served as an SFC member, president of the College Republicans, and contributor to The Portland Spectator. Herrera, as Multicultural Affairs director for ASPSU, has been a key asset in organizing diverse cultural events this year.

We hope that not only will these leaders continue to contribute their passions and skills, but that next year’s administration will be open to finding a place for any student who is passionate about Portland State.