Of the 12 candidates running for Senate, 8 were able to participate in the April 9 Associated Students of Portland State University senate candidate debate: Liddy Champion, Lucero Cortez, Monty Herron, Shanae Jung, David Martinez, Luis Perez, Patrick Vroman and Angel Ware.
Candidates discussed high turnover in student government, cultural competency, tuition rates, sexual assault, food insecurity and student engagement.
Go to our YouTube channel, Vanguard Online, to listen to the debate:
Vroman, who is currently a senator, said he believes lack of student engagement is the most pressing issue
“We’ve had quite a few events over the term and several issues that have come up, and I felt like the word could have gotten out better, and students could have been more aware,” he said.
Vroman recently hosted a Town Hall meeting where students were able to express their views on various issues around campus. He said he plans to host more Town Halls in the future and hopes more students will attend to help combat concerns at PSU.
Martinez said ASPSU needs to increase advertising and interact with students more.
Cortez and Ware both said increasing ASPSU’s visibility would make student government feel more accessible and increase student engagement.
Jung, currently a senator, said cultural competency is a matter of being aware of people’s personal histories and the things that might trigger hurt.
“[It is] being respectful of other people’s opinions and differences and accepting those [differences] and people,” she said.
Perez, also a current senator, said he is involved in cultural competency initiatives at PSU and would like to continue the work ASPSU is doing.
“For us to establish cultural competency trainings for faculty and staff and other members of our community is extremely important,” he said. “We want our students to succeed and concentrate on their academics and not to feel hurt.”
Herron said he met with each member of the Board of Trustees during finals week to advocate against a tuition increase. He said freezing tuition goes beyond PSU.
“Where we need to get compliance is with our [state] senators; we need to spend more time at the Capitol lobbying for the student body to get the kind of money this school deserves,” he said.
Martinez said he would like to see ASPSU mobilize and lobby for more funding from the state.
Sexual assault prevention
“A lot of people are aware of sexual assault but are not aware of the policies that schools have, and they are not aware of ASPSU’s attempt at changing those policies and creating a safer environment,” Jung said, Vroman said he would like to see a shift in the discourse surrounding sexual assault.
“One emphasis that has to be made is we have to help people understand that [they] shouldn’t rape,” Vroman said. “It’s the wrong focus to say, ‘Here’s how to avoid being raped.’”
Champion, a current senator, said she has addressed sexual assault prevention as a member of the University Affairs committee.
“A lot of the focus goes on making sure the university is aware that it is responsible, to a certain extent, for some of the things that happen on its campus and that it is in their best interest to have a healthy, safe community and student body, and they need to provide support for students who have been assaulted,” she said.