The following letters are a series that were sent to the Vanguard this week. The first was written by a dissatisfied student, Reina Abolofia, who the Vanguard learned is hoping to be selected for the yet-to-be-arranged Queer Advocacy position in ASPSU. Abolofia later called our offices and explained that since Kristen Wallace, ASPSU president, had seen the letter, she believed it had already “served its purpose” and requested that the letter be pulled although it was never published by the Vanguard.
After the Wallace administration obtained a copy of Abolofia’s letter, ASPSU crafted its own response, printed below.
Abolofia, believing her original letter had “served its purpose” of pushing the administration into action, crafted a second letter. In it, Abolofia formally apologizes to Wallace and lauds ASPSU for its attention and hard work. As a service to our readers and ASPSU, we have decided to print all three in the hope that in the future, students and their student government will find ways to communicate more directly.
Outraged by lack of ASPSU action
Does ASPSU really work for all students?
My answer would be no.
I am a queer student here at PSU and was told by our student body President Kristin Wallace this past April that she was planning to open a new queer advocacy position this fall with ASPSU. With the formation of Oregon State Student Equal Rights Association last year working statewide on queer issues, I feel it is imperative that this position be formed as soon as possible. Being the largest university in the state, the most diverse, and the only large university without a position of this kind in student government, I wonder why it took so long for us to even consider forming this position.
I was in constant contact with Kristin this summer about the position. At each meeting she told me that she was on top of things and that hiring would happen any day. However, Kristin has done very little to allocate the necessary funds, and the soonest we may see this position will be winter term. This process is not difficult. For example, last year the formation of the ASPSU Multicultural Affairs director position took only a month and someone was hired into it by the end of the 2001 school year.
I am outraged that again queer persons on this campus are being silenced. How can ASPSU claim that they work for all students when they have completely ignored all queer issues? I demand that an ASPSU queer advocate be hired by the middle of October and call upon all queer students and allies to address this issue with our president.
music performance, junior
ASPSU unable to create advocacy position alone
Does ASPSU really work for all students? Our answer is yes.
In a recent letter that was sent to the Vanguard, and to Queers & Allies, Reina Abolofia, a self-identified queer student and ASPSU senator, has accused Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) President Kristin Wallace of not only failing to fulfill her promise of creating an equal rights advocate position on the ASPSU executive staff, but also of “ignoring” and “silencing” queer persons at Portland State University.
It is true that the position of equal rights advocate of ASPSU has yet to be created and filled. However, the assumption that Kristin Wallace has complete control over the creation of such a position is entirely false. In her letter, Reina Abolofia states that “Kristin has done very little to allocate the necessary funds” to create a new staff position. “This process is not difficult,” she continues. The fact of the matter is that Kristin Wallace has no control over the allocation of student fees (which pay for all positions on the ASPSU executive staff).
A proposal for the creation of an equal rights advocate of ASPSU has been created and was sent to Wendy Endress, the associate vice provost of Student Affairs on Oct. 3 for approval. From there, the proposal will be sent to the ASPSU senate for approval, and then, if the creation of the position is approved, the funds will be allocated for the position.
The truth is that Kristin Wallace has done very little to create this position simply because she has been unable to do so. The ASPSU senate failed to meet over the summer, and Kristin would have been unable even to bring a proposal to the senate for approval.
Now that school is in session, and the ASPSU senate is meeting regularly, the necessary steps have been taken to create an equal rights advocate position on the ASPSU executive staff.
The accusations by Abolofia that ASPSU has “ignored” and “silenced” the concerns of queer students at PSU are unsubstantiated. Queers & Allies is currently working in coalition with ASPSU on our Youth Vote drive. Kristin Wallace and ASPSU Vice President Dune Zhu campaigned with the creation of a Queer Resource Center on their platform and remain committed to finding space for such a center. ASPSU staff has been meeting with Dr. Douglas Samuels, vice provost for Student Affairs, to discuss the issues that the Oregon Statewide Student Equal Rights Alliance is currently working on.
The evidence is clear: ASPSU remains committed to serving the needs of the students at PSU, and representing them before the administration. The accusations of Reina Abolofia that propose otherwise are false and groundless.
ASPSU needs advocate for queers
ASPSU is working on some great campaigns this year. Not only are they working to maintain the 2.5 GPA requirement for all incoming freshmen and working to get black studies as a major, but they are also organizing to get every student at PSU registered to vote.
One thing, however, that I think would allow them to work even better as an organization representing the student body is to create a Queer Advocacy position working full-time to make our campus more queer friendly.
We need this position for several reasons. First, just this past year the Oregon State Student Equal Rights Alliance was formed to work statewide on queer issues in association with the Oregon Student Association. On top of this, we are the largest university in the state, the most diverse and the only university of its caliber without a position of this kind in student government.
Finally, I personally do not feel that our campus is a nurturing environment for all GLBT [gay, lesbian, bi- and transgender] students.
I urge our president to make this a top priority in the coming weeks and ask all queer students and allies to address her about it as well. I would also like to formally apologize formally apologize to our president, Kristin Wallace.
music performance, junior