The transition to online learning left students with a tough decision as to whether they would still attend their university as a full-time student. The Associated Students of the University of Portland (ASUP), who originally required that their members be full-time students, voted unanimously on Sept. 7 to temporarily allow part-time students to serve in ASUP and receive their regular stipend in light of this fact.
The resolution was introduced by College of Arts and Sciences Senator Zachary Sessa. Sessa said that he and ASUP saw a need for this resolution after they noticed an increase in part-time students following the announcement that school would be online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was important that every student, regardless of their status as either a part-time or full-time student, have the opportunity to be a representative within the school,” Sessa said. “... we wanted to enfranchise more students and then leave it up to the voters to decide if they would like a representative to be a part-time student or a full-time student.”
ASUP executive board members, (president, vice president, director of communications, director of finance, campus board program (CBP) director and speaker of the senate) receive a stipend of $3,500 per semester. ASUP senators receive a $550 stipend per semester.
Allowing part-time students to serve on ASUP, however, is not a permanent change. A clause in the resolution states that when ASUP returns to normal operations, the senate will need to review the resolution.
“This resolution was a response to the unstable conditions created by COVID-19, and how the university operations are being run,” Sessa said. “We felt it is necessary to reevaluate this resolution once these unstable conditions created by COVID-19 no longer apply.”
Now a part-time student, ASUP Speaker of the Senate Drew Jones faced uncertainty coming into this semester. Given the previous regulations, he would have had to step down from his position had this resolution not passed.
“We decided to take things one step at a time, so I can’t confidently say what would have happened,” Jones said.
ASUP President Sage Taylor said that it would have been difficult if the resolution didn’t pass, however, whatever the outcome, he was happy the legislative process was working.
“It should be up to a student to choose ‘hey, if I feel comfortable having a part time student represent me in the senate, then that's a decision that I can make,’ as opposed to having it be something that the senate decides from the get go,” Taylor said. “Anything that puts more power into students' hands, I am very very happy with.”
The resolution will also affect the upcoming elections for vice president and freshman class senators on Sept. 20.
“Our decisions as ASUP directly affects people that are part-time students,” Jones said. “I think that (part-time students) should be able to represent their own voice and be able to represent themselves.”
William Seekamp is the Sports editor for The Beacon. He can be reached at email@example.com.