Editorial: What has ASUP done for you?

By The Beacon | February 14, 2012 9:00pm

(The Beacon)


Over the weekend a Beacon photographer asked fellow students their expectations for the ASUP Executive Board next year.

The 10 students she asked had no idea what ASUP is or what it does.

However, there was one student who knew what ASUP was and the difference she could make by applying to be a senator. She is a junior who applied to fill the vacant College of Arts and Sciences senator position.

She got fellow CAS students' signatures and put forth her application to the Senate – it should have been an easy decision. There was an open position and her fellow students wanted her to fill it.

However, instead of following their mission "to provide an organization through which the needs and interests of students can be represented, by which extracurricular activities can be developed, and as a means to foster the recognition of students' rights and responsibilities," nearly half of the Senate questioned her lack of experience in leadership and decided not to accept her.

"Senate would have been her first time leading," ASUP President Zack Imfeld said. "Other than that there were no red flags."

To his credit, Imfeld did the right thing and vetoed the Senate's decision, but the candidate withdrew after she heard she was blackballed.

Beggars can't be choosers, ASUP, especially considering only six students are running for five positions in the upcoming elections.

The fact that so few people are running in this election is evidence that ASUP is not connected with the student body.

Students keep ASUP out of sight and mind because it has yet to affect our everyday lives in a meaningful matter. This year, the big debate revolved around changing the CIF to the MPF; in other words, ASUP renamed something so they could put money somewhere else. Nothing has been bought; no students have been impacted or reaped any of the benefits – except the ASUP members who can talk about their leadership experience in student government during job interviews.

It is time for ASUP to make meaningful change and be proactive in righting wrongs. ASUP needs to write more resolutions on important topics. For example, why hasn't ASUP taken a stance on and written a resolution about the nondiscrimination clause?

Students are also continually talking about the price of food in The Commons. ASUP should represent the needs and interests of its students and write a resolution calling to disband the ability for Bon Appétit to have a monopoly on campus.

As a student government, it is ASUP's responsibility to be leaders. Thus their "leadership" ought to concern, involve and benefit the student body. With four candidates running unopposed, not everyone's interests are going to be represented. Additionally, the candidates who are running are not going to feel any incentive to compete and vie for student interest.

However, the lack of candidates running in this year's election is not only ASUP's responsibility. ASUP stands for the Associated Students of the University of Portland, and as such, more students need to get involved.

Even if students can't get involved by holding a Senator or Executive Board position, students need to start paying attention to ASUP politics and holding ASUP accountable for its decisions.

Past treasury reports show that ASUP collects over $200,000 every semester, a number that will continue to increase as the population of the school grows.

Nearly $21,000 of that money goes into the Major Project Fund each semester. Currently, ASUP is deciding what to spend the MPF money on and students should care where this money goes.

Are you aware that one of the MPF options that the ASUP Executive Board is pushing for is a penny-squishing machine?

Current ASUP Vice President Chloe' Ruffin called it "fun" on Facebook, but does it actually benefit you?

We are a prestigious educational institution and our student funds should not be put towards something that is as useless as a penny-squishing machine. The only thing a penny-squishing machine will be remembered for is being one of the most illogical decisions ever made by ASUP and yet another arbitrary delegation of funds that does not impact us.

Next question: If we asked you to tell us who Brock Vasconcellos and Kyle Hamm are, would you know?

Do you know what policies they want to enact or what platform they are running on as next year's only presidential and vice presidential ticket? Do you feel confident in their ability to appropriately spend nearly half a million dollars?

If you do not feel informed or are unsure about next year's candidates, become informed by taking an active role in getting to know the people running.

Moreover, if you don't like the options you have, realize you don't have to vote for the people running just because they are unopposed. There is an option for writing in a vote for a candidate not listed. If the candidates running get less than 10 percent of the vote, a special election will be held in order to fill the positions and someone better may step forward and take responsibility.

We envision our student government to be a powerful voice for the student body, to express our concerns and wishes. It should be an outlet that will report to the administration what its students want (not only what our senators want) and to keep its constituents informed.

That being said, we want you to ask yourselves: Are you getting what you want from your student government?