Associated Students of Portland State announced the results of the 2017–18 student government leadership elections at 1 p.m., Friday, May 5 at the Simon Benson House. 1369 students voted in the election, as compared to 1401 votes last year.
Brent Finkbeiner and Donald Thompson III, who ran unopposed, won president and vice president, respectively. The incoming president and vice president team received 88 percent or 1200 of the 1369 votes cast. The remainder of votes for president and vice president, 12 percent or 166 votes went toward write-in candidates [notable write-ins included “your mom,” “Hugh G. Rection” and “Turd Ferguson”].
“I don’t think it was unexpected, necessarily,” Thompson said of his win. “There had been a slate of other people presenting themselves as potential candidates early on, but late into the application process, I think day of, they dropped out. About 5 percent of the campus voted this year, and so I think that is telling in that maybe people aren’t as engaged with it as we’d like them to be.”
Student senator positions went to Alex Herrera, Luis Balderas Villagrana, Jocelyn Rodriguez, Sabrina Stitt, Zia Laboff, Katie Kennedy, Catherine Everett, Lihn Le, Zoe Stuckless, Cuautli Verastegui, Emily Korte, Nikolas Hash, Hakan Kutgun, Josephine Claus, Brenton Davis and former ASPSU president Liela Forbes.
“I made a joke Facebook post about it and some people took it seriously I guess,” said Forbes of their surprise win from four write-in votes. Forbes recently resigned form their ASPSU presidency. “I’m still working out my plans for next year in terms of whether I’m going to be at PSU. But if I am around, I mean it’s not off the table. I left ASPSU as an intentional choice, and I am likely to stick to it, but I’m not ruling anything out.”
Students Violet Gibson, Suwadu Jallow, Patrick Meadors, Nhi Dao, Amber Hastings, Mahamadou Sissoko and Andy Mayer were elected to the Student Fee Committee.
The 15 NOW Referendum, a proposal to raise the minimum wage of all campus workers passed 1113–256.
The proposal will be sent to the Board of Trustees and PSU administration for review, and 15 NOW hopes the newly elected “Engage PSU” members of student government will continue to push this movement forward.
“The thing about the elections is that not a lot of people vote in general and a lot of people who have voted have come out specifically to vote for 15 NOW just because we’ve been campaigning all over campus,” said student Kaitlyn Dey.
PSU Student Union and the “Engage PSU” candidates were the main supporters for this ballot measure, as well as endorsements from campus unions AAUP, PSUFA, GEU, SEIU 49 and 89.
“Given that most of the candidates are running unopposed, the people who vote are probably voting for 15 NOW,” said Jamie Partridge, a 15 NOW organizer. “For the last year we’ve been petitioning, we delivered 3,000 signatures to the board in June last year and they ignored us. We’ve testified before almost every board meeting for the last year, we’ve had faculty unions and the nonfaculty unions testify and present letters to the board in support of the $15 minimum wage for all workers. We’ve held teach-ins and speak outs, marches and rallies. We are using this tool as the latest in a series to attempt to influence the board.”
15 NOW will hear results from the proposal wage increase by June 22 of this year.
At a May 5 student media press conference, PSU President Wim Wiewel responded to the 15 Now proposal and election results. When asked if the proposal is a realistic endeavor for student government to pursue, Wiewel said, “Faced with the challenge of having to raise tuition, that’s probably not the most likely time that the Board is going to say, ‘Oh, let’s add a couple more million dollars to the bill and raise tuition to 12 percent instead.'”
“But a year ago, that might have been a very productive discussion,” Wiewel continued. “Because a year ago we didn’t raise tuition by all that much.” He also referred to state initiatives already in place to raise state-wide minimum wage to over $14 by 2021.
When asked his hopes for the newly elected ASPSU leaders, Wiewel said, “I hope that the incoming leaders will…approach the new [PSU] president as an ally and a friend who is here to achieve the same things that everybody else is: the create the best education experience, to make PSU a great place to learn, to do research, to work, etc.”
“And that by working together, a lot can be accomplished,” he continued. “I would urge the new student government to pick a number of issues that they can actually make progress on and that are actually in the power of the [PSU] president realistically to affect and change.”
He continued by encouraging ASPSU leaders to focus on campus-specific issues including food insecurity, campus safety and culturally competent and responsive curriculum.
Newly elected ASPSU leaders will assume their roles at the beginning of summer term, at which point they will begin to appoint special committee chairs, executive board directors and various unfilled positions.
To learn more about ASPSU, visit go.pdx.edu/aspsu.
Additional reporting by Colleen Leary.