Where did ASPSU go?
The spring ASPSU elections have ended, and we congratulate all the winners and hope they can fulfill their campaign goals as they begin their tenures.
However, a disturbing thing happened during this election; the people assigned to organize it were noticeably absent.
Sure, candidates hung fliers around campus, and did the usual “vote for me” routines.
However, the two election forums designed for students to hear candidates speak were poorly attended by both students and candidates.
The voter’s guide did not appear until Friday afternoon, giving students little time to read up on candidates. And the links on the online ballot to candidate statements were flawed, barring even more students from accessing the information.
Portland State events, even the elections, traditionally lack student involvement. Often, event organizers blame this on the commuter nature of this university.
But with this campus event, we can blame lack of involvement on the organizers themselves. ASPSU, where were you?
The chain of non-involvement began this fall. First, fall elections had an embarrassing turnout of 10 voters – that’s not a typo, only 10. Then current ASPSU President Bar Johnston failed to appoint an elections committee at the proper time, waiting instead until just over a month before elections were scheduled.
The appointed elections committee chose to resign rather than organize an election in four weeks, one of which was finals week and another, Spring Break.
Elections were postponed until this week. However, the extra time didn’t seem to aid the elections committee in organizing and promoting the election.
Then the snowball just kept getting bigger. It appeared that ASPSU failed to support the committee because many current officers were running for election.
Further, the committee seemed unable to support itself. The candidate forums were poorly advertised and subsequently poorly attended. The voter’s guides came out late. And in general, it felt like the elections were a non-issue until Monday, when, finally, posters that simply said “VOTE” appeared.
Lack of participation in student body elections has repercussions that a lack of student participation in Communications Awareness Week doesn’t have.
Just like the national elections, we vote because it is our voice. We are electing the Student Fee Committee chair, the president and vice president, the treasurer, Fee Committee members and the student senate.
The SFC chair decides how your fee money will get spent. The president sits on many university committees that decide all manner of university policy. The vice president runs the senate, a body that receives your money and (ideally) represents the student body’s needs to the administration.
Without a doubt, the new administration needs to take a serious approach to next year’s elections, both spring and fall. They need to show students just how important this process is and the effect it actually has on students’ lives. ASPSU needs to start showing up.