VANGUARD EDITORIAL: Campaign in the ass

There is no denying that the future of higher education looks grim. Just this month, Portland State announced its plan to raise tuition by over 9 percent next year.

There is no denying that the future of higher education looks grim. Just this month, Portland State announced its plan to raise tuition by over 9 percent next year. And rise in college costs don’t end there—more tuition spikes, enrollment increases and budget cuts loom on the horizon.

ASPSU serves as the collective voice of the student body that can help curb these concerning trends, as well as represent student interests across a number of issues. Sadly, PSU students have shown disinvestment in their student government and what it represents. Last year, just over 700 students—out of 28,000—voted in the ASPSU elections. The outlook isn’t much better this year.

Though the Elections Board has worked hard to reach out to students, it is difficult to do so on a commuter campus such as PSU. Further complicating campus campaigns are the restrictive rules by which candidates must abide.

One such restriction is the limited time candidates are allowed to campaign before voting begins. This year, candidates are not allowed to reach out to students or hang any posters on campus before April 15, giving them only eight days to campaign—two of which are on the weekend. This is not nearly enough time to reach out to 28,000 students, all whom have tight schedules and busy lives.

This week, presidential candidate Adam Rahmlow and his running mate Pearce Whitehead were accused of violating this campaigning rule: Rahmlow was videotaped as he was talking to the Student Veterans Association about his candidacy, while Whitehead was tried for hanging partisan fliers in his dormitory.

Though the E-board has yet to determine what the punishments will be, the incident has generated a lot of publicity, for better or for worse. But should Rahmlow and Whitehead really be punished for their enthusiasm? Or should we expect to see this much eagerness exhibited by the other candidates?

There is no discernible, or logical, reason why candidates are allowed only eight days to campaign before the polls open. Candidates would not have an unfair advantage if such a timeline didn’t exist. Rather, it would demonstrate who takes initiative and is most engaged with the student body.

Cody Bakken, currently serving on the Judicial Board, noted that from his experience, campaigning too early can lead to public disinterest or a candidate losing impact by voting time. This is an understandable concern. However, campaigning strategies should be determined by the candidates themselves. Aside from assuring that our elections are ethical, the E-board has no place being so hands-on. It is evident that this much red tape has become detrimental to the whole electoral system.

Rahmlow and Whitehead aren’t alone when it comes to getting put in the electoral doghouse. Last year’s running mates Jil Heimensen and Johnnie Ozimkowski were prohibited from campaigning on campus because they were late registrants, essentially leaving current ASPSU President Katie Markey without an opposition. How’s that for a democratic process?

Members of ASPSU should represent the student body and fight for change, both on campus and statewide. Yet with so many repressive electoral rules, we are not given an adequate amount of time to familiarize ourselves with each candidate’s campaign goals and to decide who represents us best.

Student government is an important platform for students to voice their concerns. Not only is ASPSU the liaison between the university administration and the student body, but is also a powerful lobbying group that fights on behalf of students.

Whoever takes the helm of ASPSU next year should work to amend the constitution to allow more campaigning freedom come election season. With so much disdain and apathy toward our student government, such an overhaul just might help get more students involved—or at least give a damn.

Virginia Vickery Editor-in-Chief Corie Charnley News Editor  Nicholas Kula Arts & Culture Editor

Richard Oxley Opinion Editor Kevin Fong Sports Editor

Kristin Pugmire Copy Chief Editor