The 2016-17 Associated Students of Portland State is underway, with polls open now through April 27. This year’s election comes on the back of an academic year bogged by disrupted meetings, contentious budgetary decisions and nearly across-the-board fee and tuition increases. This year, students will also have the opportunity to decide on a referendum in support of a building fee increase to support the renovation of the Smith Memorial Student Union.
Following is a list of candidates currently running for office in ASPSU’s executive, senate and Student Fee Committee seats. Due to a low number of applicants, the incoming ASPSU president will also have the task of hiring up to seven additional senators and three SFC members. For all positions a candidate must earn at east two votes to step into office.
Unite PSU is a movement to change the student experience in higher education. We bring a platform that uplifts the voices of students to show that our needs should be a priority. Students are the reason this university exists, and when decisions are made about our education, we deserve to have a voice in the room who will truly represent our needs. Collectively, we bring nearly a decade of experience representing students in higher education, and the students know they can count on us to advocate for their interests and stand up to institutions on their behalf. Let’s make this university worthy of you!
Our seven campaigns are:
-Campus safety reform, including disarmament
-Fighting tuition increase at the state and local level
-Campus sexual assault prevention
-15$ minimum wage for campus student workers
-Student fee autonomy
Students for a Better PSU
Students for a Better PSU is a diverse group of student government candidates who want to work together to craft collaborative solutions to make our campus better. We have 3 main focuses: Collaboration, Reform, and Affordability. Collaboration means bringing students, student groups, faculty, and administration together to solve problems and build a more cohesive campus culture. PSU’s campus is becoming increasingly divided in many ways, and we hope to help facilitate dialogue between groups to create better solutions to our campus problems. ASPSU Reform is necessary because of years of scandal both during and outside elections, and because of the ineffective system in place. We will establish a task force to examine systems from other campuses and build a more representative government for years to come. Affordability is our final core concern, as the cost of attendance is increasing. We will work to reduce our cost of attendance by working with administrators and the Board of Trustees to find cost inefficiencies, lobby the state legislature for additional higher education funding, and pursue textbook alternatives like Open Educational Resources. Find out more about us at betterpsu.com.
Voices of Student Solidarity
The President’s primary roll as an ASPSU executive is to embody an unbiased, fair, and accurate representation of ASPSU as an organization as well as the students of PSU: to foster communication between students, faculty, and university administration; to champion issues as the voice of student government in speaking to local political representatives, student groups such as OSA, and the officers and administration of PSU. A secondary but very crucial function of the office of President is to seek and appoint students to ASPSU who have ability as leaders and are true representatives of the diversity of Portland State.
Our slate, Voices Of Student Solidarity, seeks to represent students of all backgrounds, passions and walks of life. We embody strength, level-mindedness, awareness, and passion to represent the students of this university. The issues which we have already begun exploring include fighting tuition increases, campus sustainability and divestment from fossil fuels and the prison-industrial complex, cultural awareness, campus safety and sexual assault prevention among others. It is not our goal to choose what is most important to students, but to listen and understand—let student voices be heard.
Executive Branch, President
Trevor Jacobson (SFBPSU, Presidential candidate)
Business Administration major (Finance, Supply & Logistics)
-Formerly student body president at Clatsop Community College
-Served on Student Budget Advisory Committee
-Currently ASPSU University Affairs Director
Trevor Jacobson, along with the Students for a Better PSU slate, will make it a priority to reform ASPSU leadership by tilting more power to the senate through constitutional changes.
On the recent tuition and fee hikes:
“Every single dollar raised on students is one more student possibly not being able to go to school anymore. I think that the unfortunate thing [about the tuition raise] is there wasn’t enough representation on the Student Budget Advisory Committee. We need to get more involvement at that level.”
On the current state of ASPSU:
“There’s a lot of things that our student government could be doing better to represent students, and they don’t. And then they claim that we don’t have a voice. I think it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that we need to break out of. How can we make the student government more efficient and more representative of our students?”
On the Board of Trustees:
“I think the problem is that while you’re never going to make everyone happy, it’s a college, it’s an activist campus, people get involved. The unfortunate thing is that there isn’t the respect anymore for how do we work with each other to be able to come up with solutions.”
Zach Brill (VSS, Presidential candidate)
-Former baseball player, drafted out of high school
-Coaches 16–19 year-olds over summer
-Currently ASPSU senator
Zach Brill points to expanding on food insecurity, cultural awareness and bridging communication between students and administration as foundational priorities for his campaign. He seeks to bring people together to talk about various issues affecting students.
On the Board of Trustees:
“I think we need to figure out a way, whether it be through state legislature who appointed them, or wherever we really have to go to get support to pressure the Board of Trustees in our direction. That’s what we need to do.”
On student engagement with ASPSU:
“I’m hoping to get excitement going about the group of ASPSU. We need more people applying for the position, knowing they can be representatives for students at large.
“I think so far the group has been a little bit exclusive and maybe quiet about issues that we need to be more outgoing about.”
On tuition and the recent increase:
“Tuition increase is a huge issue. It’s one of the bottom-lines for students. We need to be able to stand up to the administration because the status quo has been to increase it every year. There’s no end in sight.
“We need to take a look at the system behind the prices.”
Liela Forbes (Unite PSU, Presidential candidate)
Political Science major
-Transferred from Rogue Community College
-Currently legislative affairs director
-On the Board of Directors for the Oregon Student Association, representing PSU
-Past experience: President of student government at RCC, Board Chair for Oregon
Forbes’ slate has seven campaigns: $15 minimum wage for student employees, campus safety reform, campus sexual assault prevention, food security, fighting tuition increase at the state and national level, equitable representation, and student fee autonomy.
On student engagement:
“The driving force behind the changes we want to create are [student voices]. We believe that students’ voices should shape the way the university looks. Students are the number one stakeholder in their education. If students on this campus push for change, that change should be embraced and implemented by the administration.
“I believe in a PSU where students feel like they are members of a community instead of just profits.”
On fighting discrimination on campus:
“We’re making sure that’s not the culture we’re cultivating here for students.”
Forbes’ slate supports the #disarmPSU campaign.
Executive Branch, Vice President
Kaitlyn Verret (Unite PSU, Vice Presidential candidate)
Women’s Studies major, double minor in Political Science, and Law and Legal Studies
-Currently multicultural affairs director, senator last year
On campus relations:
“We really want to focus on creating community.
“Especially within the last year, there is a lot of hot-button issues that tend to divide PSU and ASPSU. We really want to make ASPSU a healthy environment, which can help us better serve the students and hopefully inspire a better environment within ASPSU as a whole.
“We also want to make it so that students feel that their voices are heard by us and that ASPSU is a safe environment to get involved with, or just to talk to about issues they’re experiencing on campus.”
On equitable representation:
“I don’t like the word diversity because it tends to have the connotation of tokenizing people, like, ‘You’re just here so that we can fill a quota.’ Even though students of color and other minorities don’t make up a big part of PSU, everyone is important—having [diversity] not be tokenizing but creating spaces and roles to be involved and have a voice for their communities.”
Cassidy Hines (SFBPSU, Vice Presidential candidate)
Marketing and Advertising double major
-Member of Resident Hall Association, Portland State Programming Board, and PSU dodgeball team
On the current state of ASPSU:
“What I bring to the table with him [Jacobson] is that we have contrasting opinions on a lot of topics so I think the two of us together would really be able to balance each other.
“PSU is not a homogenous organization. Everyone doesn’t believe the same thing and that’s really important when you’re running a student government—to bring those opinions and to be able to talk about multiple topics.
“I think that one thing ASPSU hasn’t done really well is that there are a lot of people in the organization that believe the same thing, and when that happens, they just kind of follow each other. They don’t always question the other side.
“We need to make sure everyone is heard even if they aren’t at that meeting.”
On campus security:
“The Students for a Better PSU slate wants to work toward their goals, even if we don’t always agree 100 percent. The ‘Disarm PSU’ is a great example of that. Trevor and I both live on campus, and so I feel we’re specially qualified to talk about a topic like that. This is our home and we need to feel safe here.
“I think there is a lot of people who are really loud on the topic. I don’t know if their overall agreement of what CPSO [Campus Public Safety Office] is doing is actually heard from the people who are yelling.”
Olesya Prokhorova (VSS, Vice-Presidential Candidate)
Business management leadership major
-President of Entrepreneurship Club
-Volunteers at the Sound Equine Options rescue center
-Founded Faces of Success, which brings successful entrepreneurs to campus
Olesya Prokhorova points to the need for students to be made aware of resources available to them.
On resource access
“I’ve seen that there’s a lot of really good resources for students out there. We as a club should promote more, to let students know. I think that might be one of the reasons students are not engaged.”
“One of my key concerns is to get students more involved on campus. I think it’s our job to let them know that there are things they can get involved in.”
On Campus Safety
“As Vice President, I think my job is to make people feel safer. Some people feel like they don’t belong here or that it’s safe.”
“It is a little cheaper than other schools, but it’s still so expensive. I think, as a student of PSU, if you have a child…at least while you’re in school we can take care of your child, and you [shouldn’t] have to pay $250 a term. At least some help for parents in need. We do have a lot of parents on campus.”
Josephine Claus (SFBPSU, Senator candidate)
-Transferred from community college
-Currently a senator since Fall 2015
-Involved in student government and clubs throughout high school, Women’s Resource Center and PCC
Claus’ goals include more visibility for ASPSU, and to listen to student voices.
“I really want to make student government…even more accessible than it is right now to students because I think it’s really important students are being heard. Sometimes it’s harder to talk to administrators…As a senator, I want to make sure I’m listening to students and that I can fight for whatever they need.
“The school is for [the students]. This position that I have is for [the students].”
Zia Laboff (SFBPSU, Senator candidate)
International Studies major with a focus in Latin America, Political Science minor
-Started ASPSU as an intern and recently appointed to senate
-Involved in various organizations within ASPSU and Oregon Student Association
-On the Programming Board to plan various events for students on campus, member of the Student Activities & Leadership Programs Advisory Board, and student leader with the Jewish Student Union
Last term, Laboff was part of a work group to revamp the ASPSU constitution.
“[The constitution] needs to be redone a little bit. We want to try to make it as effective as possible so the government can be efficient and actually try to get things done that the students care about.
“[ASPSU] is a great program in general. Our [Students for Better PSU] vision is to make it better. We want to make students for a better PSU, we want to make an ASPSU that works for its students.”
Cheryn Trapp (SFBPSU, Senator candidate)
Community Development major
-Member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee
-Interested in fostering cohesion within the PSU community
Cheryn Trapp seeks to spend her time in ASPSU getting involved with student groups and events.
“This year was kind of different on the athletics side of things, with the football team getting a little bit of momentum. That was the first time I ever saw that many students at a football game. You could see the energy uplifting the campus through that. I just want [that] to occur in a lot of different aspects on campus, not just in athletics.”
Mustafa Almuzel (SFBPSU, Senator candidate)
Mechanical Engineering major
-Current ASPSU Senator
-Sustainability Affairs Committee member interested in divestment
Mustafa Almuzel hopes to put effort into addressing the lack of space for international and cultural communities to practice beliefs and hold events.
“I wanted to bring different perspectives to the student government when I joined at the beginning, and this is what I want to really keep doing next year.
“The issue of space for students to practice their beliefs is…one of my goals to work on.
“Students need to be engaged and aware about the structure of the school, the policies, so they can evaluate the student government.”
Salih Mahmood (SFBPSU, Senator candidate)
Structural Engineering major
-Currently a senator
-Member of Iraqi Student Club
“I am trying to represent the international students. I want to create a statue that will represent our diversity at Portland State.”
Emily Korte (SFBPSU, Senator candidate)
Political science major, law and legal studies minor
-Current ASPSU Senator
-Leader of mock trial team in high school
-Likes to take leadership roles in projects
“My goal, given what ASPSU looks like right now, is to make decisions that aren’t emotionally charged, and to just take the technical aspects and the views of as many students as we can, and try to incorporate that into representing everyone.
“I feel that people in general tend to make decisions based on emotion—instantaneous reactions rather than stepping back and trying to get that objective view on what’s actually happening. I think that especially in government when you’re trying to benefit the most people, you can have so many differentiating views, it’s important.”
Kimberlee Ponce (SFBPSU, Senate candidate)
Political Science major
-Transfer student, second term at PSU
-Involved in leadership through sports and workplace internships
-First generation college student
“I want this to be my first term of grasping everything that’s around me before I get too focused and specific on any one policy over another.
Aligned with the SFBPSU slate, her main vision is “a cooperative, efficient, welcoming approach to working with other branches and resources.
“It can be tricky to collaborate and work out difficult issues so our focus is being approachable in how we work things out.”
Jaclyn Humphry (Unaffiliated, Senate candidate)
-Formerly a community assistant
Via email: “As a senator my main goal is to be a representative for the underrepresented communities on campus. I want to be their voice and stand up for what they need. With that, I want to help increase the level of student engagement on campus and provide more resources for students in need.”
-Member of the Equal Rights Advocacy Committee and Academic Affairs Committee
-Involved in leadership activities throughout high school
“I identify as queer and bisexual so ensuring that all marginalized groups and everyone on campus is getting representation is very important to me.”
Hoback is also a supporter of Disarm PSU and promoting and solving food inequality on campus.
“We have the Food Pantry which is a fantastic resource. One of the issues with the Food Pantry is that because of our contract with Aramark, we’re not allowed to advertise. Students often times don’t know it exists. Aramark is notoriously controversial and a problematic organization. I personally believe we shouldn’t have Aramark on campus.”
“I’m going to do everything I can to advocate for students, and just be a voice for what they want and need. I often listen to what the administration doesn’t hear and I want to be able to speak up for that.”
Alex Herrera (Unite PSU)
Phoenix Singer (Unite PSU)
Anneka Henry (Unite PSU)
Sulakha Hassan (Unaffiliated, SFC candidate)
International Studies major
-Current SFC Chair
-Would like to build relations between ASPSU senate and SFC
There’s a need to engage with people in ASPSU on a more personal level, that way you can humanize the person. We are students, at the end of the day. To be more compassionate and considerate toward one another would be a big thing.
“It was interesting learning all of this, and getting in tune with it and knowing more people, but I think that there could be a lot more done and there could be a lot more engagement with students outside of ASPSU throughout the year.”
Xavier Coleman (Unaffiliated SFC Candidate)
Psychology and business double-major
-Currently a sitting SFC Member
-Involved in updating guidelines for future SFCs
-Athletics, Rec Center and Rec Clubs liaison
“I had a really positive year. I think this last year, most importantly, I learned a lot. I came in not knowing a lot about how to deal with budget and finances. I felt prepared [after budget training] and it’s been overall, super-positive.”
“Dealing with finances for athletics was something for me that was awesome, so that’s something I hope to continue going forward.”
(SFBPSU, SFC candidate)
Patrick Charles James Staton
Human Resources Management, Leadership and Management major
-Current ASPSU Senator
-President-elect of the PSU Human Resources Management Association
-Interested in aiding the smoke-free campus effort
Among Patrick Staton’s concerns is the potential Smith Memorial Student Union renovation, which he would like to see pushed forward. Staton believes that holding off on the renovation will lead to an increase in costs over time.
“Creating accountability for the money that we’re actually spending. Accountability, in that we’re using that money for students that are here today, as opposed to students that will be here four years from now.
“I think that our slate will bring a bunch of different perspectives, and that’s going to be the benefit. No one’s wanting to take one course of action. We’re trying as a student body to figure out what’s best for everybody.”
Bethlehem Daniel (Unafilliated, SFC Candidate)
Environmental engineering major
-Served as lead teacher for pre-school and 1st grade students
-Leader of the black arts movement open-mic event through Deep Underground
Via email: “My goals as a senator of ASPSU is to bring an actual representation of what minorities of PSU feel and go through during their experience at Portland State.”
“Student engagement is critical because I think it is the best way to learn about how democracy can work and to figure out why democracy at the state or federal level does or does not work.”