The campaign trail to the 2018 ASUP Election is well under way, and students had the chance to hear from executive board candidates at a swanky Speech Night event Thursday. The event was held in the Quiet Side of Bauccio Commons, but the event was anything but quiet. The twelve candidates for executive board positions gave speeches at the event. To open up the night, Victoria Beccar Varela, a member of Campus Program Board and one of the two emcees of the event, put these executive board positions in perspective with a megaphone in hand, by reminding the crowd that they control half a million dollars of student’s tuition.
For the first time in at least fifteen years, the event was organized and designed by Campus Program Board, and the switch to CPB showed in the atmosphere this year. The night featured live music, swanky centerpieces, pilot purple uplights, mocktails and an above average buffet courtesy of home crowd favorites Bon Appetit.
The two pairs of candidates running for ASUP president and vice-president spoke at the event– Alex Peterson (P) and Carrie Fitzgerald (VP), Sitara Nath (P) and Michael Gallagher (VP). These four candidates also took questions from the audience after their speeches.
Peterson and Fitzgerald’s platform is “Safety, Sustainability, and Service,” and they said that they hope to establish all of these values in the University of Portland community. The candidates said that they want to establish a full-time sustainability coordinator, bring transformative service experiences to campus and build a greater sense of community on campus through a feeling of safety.
Peterson appeared to allude to the University's response to President Trump's DACA rescindment, but did not address it directly.
“When you’re home you’re safe; safe from attack, from isolation or fear of being forcibly removed,” Peterson said. “We believe that at UP we must buy into a greater sense of community… when you’re here you’re one of us.”
Nath and Gallagher’s platform is “Engagement, Inclusivity, and Transparency.” Nath recognized the student frustration with a lack of transparency between ASUP and the student body over the years, and said that increasing transparency and communication between ASUP and the student body will be a priority if elected.
“Throughout this past year in particular the gap and the disconnect between our leadership and the student body has become increasingly evident. Which is why our platform is based on the goal of making ASUP a governing body that brings out the best in our community while pushing the administration to continue prioritizing student needs,” Nath said.
Nath also said that a high priority moving forward needs to be focused on proactively furthering campus conversations, hosting campus events and community building, and said that Gallagher and herself will use the untapped resources of ASUP to do so. She did not specify what the untapped resources are. Nath also said that they hold a deep commitment to furthering administrative conversations on inclusion at UP.
“Regardless of the background or identity students bring to our campus every one of us deserves to find the support and resources we need to call UP our home. That lack of support for underrepresented student groups is evident everywhere from our classroom experience to the administrative conversations happening on our campus,” Nath said.
Neither candidates addressed the ASUP Senate vote to give executive board and senate a pay raise at the end of last semester, something that generated a student conversation on the relevance and importance of ASUP. Neither candidates addressed sexual assault either, which was a prominent issue in last year's ASUP election and has been in the national narrative this year with the .
The three candidates for director of finance all spoke at the event including sophomore Wyatt Dykhuizen, junior Brandon Wester, and junior Abigail Pell.
Sophomore accounting major Wyatt Dykhuizen currently serves as a sophomore class senator and as a member of the financial management board. Dykhuizen said that being transparent with where ASUP’s spending is going would be a priority if he was elected, and that he would push for weekly spending reports in the ASUP newsletter. He also said that he would work with the Beacon to make ASUP financial information as accessible as possible. Dykhuizen said that students can expect him to be unbiased when allocating money to clubs, consider advice from the financial management board and be accessible and approachable with student concerns about ASUP financial spending.
In an emotional and personal speech, junior finance and entrepreneurship major Brandon Wester said he would focus on guidance and transparency. Wester opened up his speech talking about growing up fast, taking care of his young siblings while dealing with abuse and a mother with terminal illness and learning how to balance a checkbook at a young age. Wester said he would provide guidance to clubs by updating outdated excel budget communication. In regards to transparency, he emphasized the importance of making all students and faculty aware of any changes in ASUP spending.
Junior accounting major Abigail Pell said she already understands the role and responsibilities of the director of finance because she has already worked with the current Director of Finance Hannah Baade as the “controller” on Financial Management Board. Pell said that she would strive to streamline communication with the student body, and ensure that budget allocation to clubs is fair and unbiased.
Both Wester and Pell emphasized the importance of using their role as the director of finance to improve student financial literacy, and all three of the candidates emphasised transparency in financial spending with the student body.
Running for director of communications are juniors Brenda Hernandez, Kathleen Burks, Molly Rausch and Sven Shoultz.
Burks presented her speech internationally from Granada, Spain where she is currently studying abroad. Burks said she wants to bring more transparency to the position by going to the students and communicating with them more directly.
“Students shouldn’t have to hear first from The Beacon about what ASUP is up to. We need to inform the student body ourselves and be honest about it,” Burks said.
Rausch focused her speech around “visibility and engagement.” Rausch said she wants ASUP to be seen by the student body so that students know what their representatives are doing. She also said that she wants students to be more engaged with what ASUP is doing, and vice versa, which could be done through improving existing social media pages to make communication more effective.
Hernandez emphasized her qualification for the position given her current job as a marketing and communication representative for the development office at UP. She said that a strong connection between ASUP representatives and the student body is crucial, and that she would work to engage students as much as possible.
Junior Sven Shoultz recognized that there have been a few mistakes in ASUP’s communication with the student body recently, specifically in regards to the . He said that presence is the solution to the miscommunication. He elaborated, saying that presence on social media, the newsletter and senators going out and talking to the students they represent is important.
“That communication that happened after that issue (the raise) is what needs to continue to happen in the future. We need to have direct, honest and constant communication from ASUP to the students about what’s happening on campus.”
It is noteworthy that Shoultz was the only candidate for any executive board position to address the pay raise issue, given that it was a major issue in communication this year.
Kaity Sullivan, the sole candidate for campus program board director, talked about her background in CPB, what her plans are for the future, and why students should vote for her instead of pressing “next.” Her speech included humorous references to the Greatest Showman soundtrack, and the Oscars’ Best Picture mishap last year (She noted that someone competent should be in charge of CPB, so they don’t announce “La La Land” as next year’s Rock the Bluff artist). She left the audience with a quote from ABBA which perfectly sums up her unopposed candidacy.
“If you change your mind, I’m the only one in line,” Sullivan said.