The upcoming ASPSU elections excite only a small segment of the student body. This year, however, there is more extensive campaigning – designed, ostensibly, to reach a larger segment of potential voters.
From tacky posters on cement columns to cookies in the breezeways, the candidates seem to have coalesced this year around full-fledged campaigns. Many of the issues that normally define elections, though, are still lost between the poster paint and the chocolate chips. And nothing reflects more on the relationship between the past ASPSU administrations than the total cynical response that many students have toward this election cycle.
For those who have walked the halls of PSU for more than two years, it has been agonizingly obvious that ASPSU has failed students with distressing consistency. The administration of Bar Johnson was plagued with accusations of liberal bias in her voting drive for the 2000 elections. Thereafter, the Wallace administration imploded after a bitter election fight and strong opposition within her administration; concurrent election violations rendered legal threats a logical possibility-not exactly good governance.
The Marino administration, when all is said and done (keeping in mind that ASPSU is notoriously long on the ‘said’ and short on the ‘done’), was a telegenic one. When words and deeds failed, toothy smiles attempted to fill the credibility gap. In all fairness, though, the Marino administration inherited a student government that veered from student concerns to pugilistic encounters between senators and blatant violations of election procedures. If the ship was sinking, at least Marino kept it momentarily afloat. Marino’s effort to include more students was a meritorious one, but a budget crisis sapped political strength and it remains to be seen if student advisory boards will ever function at the capacity they should.
This year, the eventual victor of the ASPSU election will accede to no easy tasks. If Oregon students have learned anything, it is that a wholesale assault on accessible, affordable education is a reality. This year there is no time in student politics for pathetic political paroxysms from the affected right-wing/left-wing factions that represent the twenty-five thousand students of Portland State. Although I do not imagine, nor hope, that everyone will fill the same political page, coalitions must be built to confront what has become a visceral crisis at our university. In a national election year, as well, it will be tempting to wade into the deep water of presidential politics. Fine, but regardless of who is elected this November, PSU students are facing the educational equivalent of the Vanport floods.
This year there is no time to bask in political glory. The new ASPSU must fight early, fast and hard. The new ASPSU must place an increasing dividend on efficient governance and clearly stated objectives. Its success will be conditioned by the rapidity in which it establishes itself and its coalescence around a limited number of proposals.
As students, we want a strong, centered student government that represents widespread student concerns of affordable, accessible, and fairly distributed educational resources. We want a student government that responds to the real concerns of students and strictly limits reactions to the petulance of certain students who have, consistently, tried to derail student government with their D.C.-sized egos. We want more hours at the library. We want class size limits (especially on seminar style classes) so we don’t have to fight for seats. We want, in the very least, a student government that lets the state and its citizens know that we are pissed about what is happening to our education and our university.