ASPSU democratic process can’t be representative without student engagement

Submitted by Roosevelt Sowka, PSU Student and Associated Students of Portland State Senator

First, I would like to thank Anna Williams and Portland State Vanguard for reporting on the Associated Students of Portland State University. Their coverage of Portland State affairs, especially student government, increases awareness and holds individuals accountable.

As a senator with ASPSU, I would like to discuss the claim made by Shayla Norris-York that ASPSU as a whole “signaled to the entire PSU community that they are only interested in representing students who align with their narrow political agenda.”

Historically, ASPSU has pursued a narrow political agenda. I joined ASPSU at the start of this term as a student who had witnessed just that. ASPSU President Brent Finkbeiner stated, “Governments are made up of individuals [who] get passionate [and take] stances on or against certain things.” Within our 37 members, each has their own identity, personality and views. If you do not agree with one representative, I encourage you to reach out to another.

I have witnessed, more often than not, the number of officer positions available surpass the number of individuals who campaign for these positions. Some individuals are elected into office by a single digit number of votes. They are democratically elected by about 1,400 of 27,000 students. The process is democratic, but is it really representative?

This is not just an ASPSU issue. When the student voice is lost, administrators, faculty members and student officers all act in a similar fashion, in the way their personal judgment deems best. In many instances, this works just fine, but it opens the potential for a lack of insight of what the real problems and solutions are. The student body, in their silence, condones and even encourages others to make decisions for them.

If you are concerned about your campus community, join ASPSU. Speak to your representatives. Attend senate and committee meetings. Exercise your right to speak, in an appropriate and respectful manner, to demand from your representatives what you want to see on this campus. Without such input, we as representatives will make decisions with an incomplete perspective.

I want to hear from you.

If you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns, stop by our offices on the first floor of SMSU, M117. Email ASPSU at [email protected]. Check out our website at Read up on what we are doing in our public Google Drive folder. Come spring term, vote.
Until then, email me, your senator, Roosevelt Sowka at [email protected].