SUBMISSION: State of the Campus Address

By Emma Fuller | November 17, 2021 7:25pm

Photo courtesy of Emma Fuller.

Click here to view the State of the Campus Address.

Hello everyone, my name is Emma Fuller and I am the ASUP President. Thank you so much for coming. Before we get started, I would like to give everyone a heads up that this will be an overflow of information, however, after this speech I guarantee you will have a very thorough picture of UP Fall of 2021.  

Let me describe to you what fall 2021 looks like in a nutshell: A campus that once resembled a ghost town is now up and running with a new set of faces and social norms. When I look back at my freshman year of 2019 and compare it to today, I do not see the same UP because we have an entirely new group on campus. Here’s what’s happened since the last time we were fully together in person:

We’ve welcomed two new classes of students. Two classes graduated remotely. We now see people with face masks all over campus.

While the people in the community have changed, the community has remained the same: compassionate, cheerful, caring, and full of love. What has come with Fall 2021 is a community coming together. We have people from all around campus, working together. We have students reuniting or meeting for the first time after a year-and-a-half virtual relationship, and we have buildings being used again. In short, we have a campus that is rebuilding and recovering.

I remember when I was the freshman class senator, watching Nick Owen give the state of campus address, in awe of how influential and powerful he was. I remember sitting there thinking to myself how lucky he was to be able to make such a big impact at the school and what an important job he had. I could not comprehend how much work it took for him to earn that position and be so important. Let’s just say I was a little star struck. As a freshman, I never imagined that this is where I would be standing in two short years. I am still in disbelief that I have the honor of representing our student body. I have the honor of watching the senators grow and leading such a strong executive board. I have the honor of working with influential staff and faculty. As I said before, as a freshman, I put the ASUP president on a high pedestal that I never ever thought I could reach. But, never say never because here I am today, giving the fall 2021 state of the campus address. 

I really wanted to get an accurate picture at what is happening at UP so in preparation for the speech, I talked to many faculty, staff, and student groups and was amazed at the work being done. This speech is an effort to capture a complete picture of all their efforts. 

Where do I begin? Usually, these speeches start with the past, then go to the present, then end with the future. I’m going to switch it up today and start with the present because all you ever hear is, “live in the present.” Right now, we are wrapping up the first semester and I cannot be the only one who feels this semester has gone by in a heartbeat! 

We have almost completed the first semester of college where we’re back in person. If that doesn’t sound crazy, I’m not sure what does! Freshmen may be in disbelief that their first semester is almost over and sophomores in shock that they’re almost upperclassmen. Juniors may not be able to grasp that they’re approaching their last year of college, and seniors may wonder where the time went as they head into their final semester. Regardless of the year you’re in, we are all on our own journey and yet here for the same reason – to get a great education. 

If you want to hear the truth of where students’ heads are right now, well finals are just three short weeks away. Usually, finals are stressful for everyone involved. However, this year is different. Now I know most students are tired of talking about the pandemic, so I am just going to point out that studying for online finals versus in-person finals is very different. With online finals, most students have the leeway of looking at their notes and the peace of taking an exam without anyone else in the room and in the comfort of their home. There is usually some leeway for error and some grace given. However, in-person finals are a whole new ball game. Students must learn the material, knowing they will not be able to look at their notes. That brings a new level of stress, and the bar gets a lot higher. This is not to say that the pandemic has changed some professors’ class structure. We now see new ways of test-taking that may be implemented permanently. These include take home exams, open note exams, or even group projects instead of exams. My point through all of this is to say that just like we had to figure out the entire online approach, now we must navigate in-person again. Eighteen months is not a short amount of time. However, while finals are never fun, I want to remind students how precious these years are. We will never get them back. So while you may be stressed, remember to have fun.

One of the biggest impacts coming back is the staffing issue. The shortage of staff all around campus has really hit the students hard, even though it’s no one’s fault.

BonApp is down 1,200 hours and it’s anyone’s guess how long it will take them to get the staff they need. Some people who were hired simply ghosted the job. However, Kirk Mustain, the Director of Bon Appetit, is doing a great job working with what he has and being fast on his feet to problem-solve.

Four staff members from student activities left at the beginning of the semester. These staff were crucial for offering continuity and support for students coming into this in-person semester. Jeromy Koffler, the Director of Student Activities, basically carried the department on his back, doing a phenomenal job keeping everything running smoothly. 

Then there’s the challenge of gaining field experience, which is also affected by the staffing shortages beyond the campus. The nursing and education students are taking a big hit as field experience is limited now, causing them to worry about not being prepared for work after graduation. While this is no one’s fault, the toll it has taken on students and the impact it has made on the school is undeniable. 

One of the most anticipated projects is the search for the new University of Portland President. It is an excellent opportunity for UP to reinvest in their hiring processes, giving more students the chance to be involved and to remain focused on equitable hiring practices. Student Activities leads as an example because all the hiring interviews were conducted by students. This was important because students were able to get to know the people that could potentially be working alongside them daily. Now, more than ever, students’ voices matter. We are at such a vulnerable, yet crucial time, where we can make a direct impact on where the future of UP is headed. 

Another key area that affects the student body is the budget. ASUP’s current mission is getting the Spring 2022 budget approved. At the start of 2020, the process to request money was completely changed to meet the needs of the pandemic and clubs, courtesy of Cole Stoker, who was the controller and interim Director of Finance at the time. The budgeting system went from one budget request every semester per club, to a case-by-case budgeting system where clubs requested money for specific items, which was then approved every week. Director Stoker approved around $85,000 of club funding in just this last semester. Finally, we are in a state where we are comfortable going back to the original system. Cole Stoker, now the Director of Finance, has been working relentlessly on reviewing club budget requests and allocating money to each club. For many in the senate, it will be their first time getting to vote on an entire budget. This is significant because the budget determines how much money each club will be able to spend in Spring 2022. 

Now, for some upcoming events, the Health and Counseling Center is preparing to offer more vaccinations, encouraged by the successful flu shot clinics, which administered 280 shots and allowed student nurses to count their time toward their clinical hours. Thanks to the hard work of Kaylin Soldat, the Associate Director of Primary Care Services, and her team, the Center will be offering another clinic on campus this Wednesday, November 17. At this clinic, they’ll be offering COVID booster shots for those who qualify, along with vaccinations for COVID or the flu. The clinic is open to the UP community and will be set up on the quiet side of the Commons. The Center is hoping to do more clinics like this in the spring, when more people will qualify for booster shots.  

Additionally, UP’s International Education Week (IEW), which is this week, is being hosted in partnership with the International Club and International Student Services. The slogan for this year's IEW is "Together At Last." Participants will be able to connect with others through events, and celebrate and learn about the various cultures around the world, an essential step as we work to advocate for the BIPOC community.

And finally, getting into the holiday spirit, one of the soonest events we’re planning, in collaboration with the administration, is the annual Christmas tree lighting. The lighting will be hosted by both Acting President Medina and me. We will be lighting up one of the biggest trees on campus and giving out ornaments as a memento of being back together in person. We plan to play Christmas music and get in the holiday spirit. There will be a hot cocoa bar and Christmas cookies. Additionally, a small Christmas tree will be decorated in the Pilot House. 

Now let’s take a look into our future. As we look to the Spring 2022 semester, there are many significant projects and goals ahead. 

I’m pleased to share that we plan on having an in-person commencement for the class of 2022. The commencement will occur over two days. Most likely, the nursing commencement and pinning ceremony will be on April 30th in the afternoon. On May 1st, it’s expected that the Shiley School of Engineering and Pamplin School of Business will have a joint commencement at 10:00 a.m. and the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education will be doing their commencements later that day at 2:00 p.m. The reason for having three commencements is to de-densify the spaces, keeping families and graduates safe while providing an in-person experience. This will be the first in person commencement in two years! 

One of the biggest projects is the UP 2027 Vision. UP will be hosting preliminary dialogues around campus, focusing on future plans like a new student center or tackling the limited parking given the demand. This is a once-in-a-five-year opportunity to push for students to shape what the future of UP is going to look like beyond their years here. It is not every day that students are able to have a direct say in the vision of a university five years from now. ASUP will work hard to advertise this around campus to make sure everyone has an opportunity to have their voice heard and ideas shared.  

There are several exciting development projects in the works. 

A new Physical Plant is being built and is estimated to be complete by the end of Spring 2022. 

Additionally, once the new Physical Plant is built, the old structure will be torn down and the Shiley-Marcos Center for Design and Innovation will be constructed in its place. This new Center will be a modern building with plans for a combustion and propulsion lab, a fabrication shop, a digital lab, rapid prototyping, a rooftop garden, an art studio, and an augmented reality dashboard! This building is estimated to be ready by the beginning of 2024. 

Down in the river campus, the E.L. Wiengand Environmental Laboratory boathouse and dock will be constructed for the rowing team. It’s estimated to be ready by the middle of Fall 2022. 

The Patrick E. Becker Track and Field Complex will be built with a purple track estimated to be ready by the end of 2022. Soon, our Riverboat campus will be just another area of UP that students regularly visit. 

The Lund annex is being built to provide another food location like the Pilot House. Throughout the years, there has been a growing need for more dining areas on campus. Two locations simply do not meet the demands for the student body. Thanks to the work of Kirk Mustain, Jennie Cambier, Marc Smith and others, we can expect to see the food hub open for spring of 2023. While the design is still in the works, they are leaning towards a Pilot House atmosphere and serving more to-go foods, such as smoothies, coffee, and sandwiches. It’s also expected to have a market like Mack’s, where students can grab food and go.

Last spring, ASUP approved a funding request of $51,500 for an upgraded Diversity Center. The plan for the upgrade is in the works and expected to be ready by fall of 2022. Several members of the UP community – including students, staff, and faculty – have been participating in listening sessions with an architectural firm. The goal is to triple the center’s space and provide distinct meeting places and other areas for students to gather and engage. QTBIPOC student leaders, members of the UP Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and a representative from ASUP have all been invited to provide feedback. 

Focusing in on ASUP plans, here is what is in store. We are getting excited for Rock the Bluff! For the past two years, Rock the Bluff was online. It’s crazy to think that only the senior class has experienced a Rock the Bluff in person. The artist is to be announced, but we know CPB is working hard to make this one event extra special. 

ASUP also plans on hosting a spring leadership conference, paving the way to have leadership conferences semi-annually. We hope to invite more schools such as Reed College, Oregon State University, Willamette University, and George Fox University. This will be a perfect opportunity to follow-up on what we learned in the fall conference and get our leaders motivated for the second half of the school year. We are excited to see what this conference has in store and hope that these conferences become a norm in the Oregon area and that one-day other schools feel comfortable hosting them. 

ASUP will be fully supporting the administration and students to make sure we continue being in-person. Our job is to continue to fight for transparency and help disseminate any information from the administration. We value communication and educating all of us on campus about what is going on. Whether it be COVID-related or something else, we will continue to deliver messages in a way that is easy to access and understandable.

The future of ASUP is to continue to fight for student voices. As things continue to change and new initiatives are on the way, I could not think of a more perfect time for students to get involved. UP is a tight knit community and we know that students care about what is going on around campus. Students want to have a voice when big or small decisions are being made. ASUP recognizes that and will continue to fight for opportunities for student involvement and input. No matter who you are – administration, students, faculty, or staff – you are part of this strong UP community and your voice matters.

Now, this seems like an overwhelming number of new things happening in the future, however, I know it is possible to achieve them because just look at how far we’ve come. Here are some key events from the past. 

In the beginning of 2020, no one was on campus, and everyone was working remotely. Now we are almost a semester into being fully back in person. Whether this semester has gone by in a heartbeat or felt like years, it is undeniable how much we’ve accomplished in these short 84 days. 

Before school started this fall, we were able to have some form of an orientation and move-in thanks to Andrew Weingarten, the Director of Residence Life. After having only about 800 students living in single dorms last semester, we welcomed roughly 1750 students into the residence halls and 3,589 students in general. While move-in day was de-densified, all other things have gone back to normal. Before, students were assigned to bathrooms, people attended hybrid events, and all the athletes lived in Shipstad. In this semester, we were able to go back to normal focusing primarily on community, which is one of the most important aspects of residence life. 

Thanks to Senator Wisely and Senator Navarro, sophomores (class of 2024) finally got the orientation they deserved. There were food trucks, a scavenger hunt, a wellness fair with games and free succulents, a sophomore welcome dinner, and a concert outside of Schoenfeld Hall. Finally, the sophomore class was not confined to their single rooms and their limited contact with others. They were all able to meet with one another!

In contrast, the first week of this fall semester was full of panic, to say the least. Students felt left in the dark and rumors started to spread that we were going home. In response to this, ASUP was able to work with administration to provide clear and open communication about COVID procedures through the Pilots Prevent Website and newsletter, a webinar, and live Instagram questions and answers. It is due to the COVID-19 Steering committee’s hard work and the compliance of the amazing students, that we had only 44 COVID cases as of today, and those are including faculty. We also administered roughly 1758 self-administered test kits as of the end of October. 

Thanks to the COVID steering committee – a group of faculty and students from all around campus created by Father John Donato, Jim Ravelli, and Elise Meonttmann - COVID -19 guidelines were established with every part of campus in mind. The committee was able to regulate mask-wearing, provide isolation spaces on campus, have testing available anytime people needed it, and monitor large school events. This powerful committee meets weekly or every other week to have important conversations and make critical COVID decisions with the UP community's best interest at heart.  

Also during the first week of school, we were able to host an in-person student activities fair. The fair was outside and 74 out of 89 clubs attended. The outside fair was to keep people safe, but everyone loved the format of it so much that we are considering making the academic quad the permanent place for the fair for years to come. 

Now, let’s look at two big school events that we held in person. Thanks to Jessica Cramm and her team, CPB organized the first Riverboat since 2019. It was the first big event of the year on the Friday of the first week of school. This event could not have come at a better time, celebrating the accomplishment of the completion of the first week of school. While the event was shut down 30 minutes early to ensure the safety of students and the community, it did not cause any COVID outbreaks on campus, and more importantly, everyone had a blast! 

Furthermore, in partnership with Carioca Bowls, a local acai bowl restaurant, CPB threw a successful dance that was jungle-themed. As the dance was indoors, they took many precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. For example, they required masks. All food was on the lower level, so anyone seen without their mask anywhere else was escorted out of the building and was not able to re-enter. Additionally, they placed HEPA air filters throughout the venue to keep the air fresh and circulating. For one extra protective measure, they did not allow guests. The dance was a huge success thanks to Director Jessica Cramm and all the people part of CPB, including Claire Vondenkamp, Maeve Mahoney, CJ Cabungcal, Erin McKibbin, Brooke Majerus, Kira Mattes, Jessica Yoshioka, Berto Mujica, Gabriel Kraemer, and Hazel Stange. Everything from the campaign to the decorations to the food was out of this world, making the first dance in two years extra special for UP students! 

Now I would like to highlight the work of several different departments on campus. Athletics hosted Ballin’ on the Bluff to get everyone excited for the new basketball season. It was a huge rally with raffles, games, competitions, and free food, and all the players on the women’s and men’s teams were introduced. There was also an epic hall competition where the hall that put together the best dance won $1,000 dollars. This is the first time ever doing one of these events for the basketball team. We hope it will become a tradition and that similar events are done for each athletic team on campus. Thanks to Scott Leykam, the Director of Athletics, athletics is making a strong effort at getting the student body more involved with our sports teams. 

Campus Ministry has opened small group discussions, led by students. Father Jim Gallagher, Director of Campus Ministry is working to send the message that everyone is welcome at campus ministry events regardless of their faith. Campus Ministry wants to provide a comfortable and safe environment for those who are strongly dedicated to their faith, those who practice faith sometimes, and those who do not practice faith but are still interested in learning more about it. 

Campus Safety is in the process of upgrading their cameras and is making an effort to build students’ trust. Sara Westbrook, Director of Campus Safety, has emphasized to her officers and staff the importance of building trust with the student body. Some ways to do this can be as simple as being friendly and asking students how their day is going, and creating a more welcoming environment that has less of a power dynamic. Campus Safety will continue fostering trust, while making sure the campus and community are safe. 

You are here for your education so let’s not forget about the schools and colleges. Recently, there have been significant events at our various colleges and schools. Senator Megan Meckey, of the Pamplin School of Business, recently hosted a business town hall where we welcomed the new business dean Mike DeVaughn. The town hall also talked about the challenges of engaging with a meaningful international experience during COVID, how students can become marketable candidates in the workplace, and how students can be advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in the business school. Senator Meckey hopes the town hall provided students with a platform in which to share and learn from other students’ experiences. She also worked with faculty in the business school, including Dean DeVaughn, Itzel Cruz Megchun, and Allison Knoedler, to have a student-led town hall prior to the faculty-led event. 

This is one of many efforts for Dean DeVaughn to increase student participation. In the long run, he would like to make the business curriculum more parallel to other majors and have classes oriented toward current events. 

The Shiley School of Engineering also did a town hall, where they were able to generate a tremendous amount of positive feedback, thanks to Dean Fabien. Also, thanks to Dean Martin, The College of Arts and Sciences has established a student leadership advisory committee, which is open to student voices. Lastly, thanks Dean Shillam, The School of Nursing has developed a DEI program committee and action plan for change. The committee has student representation and has incorporated health and wellness into the mix. Additionally, due to the pandemic, the nursing community can see a major shift in the nursing curriculum due to the lack of clinical hours available. They have been able to utilize simulations to supplement the clinical work. We can see a theme throughout, which is that our schools and colleges are welcoming student voices.

I also want to recognize some student forces on campus that are working hard to be a resource and support system for everyone. Let’s start with Active Minds, the mental health club on campus. Led by President Kaylee Menefee, the club made and planted 1,100 paper cranes in the academic quad during Suicide Prevention Week. The cranes represented college students who lost their life to suicide this year. A new aspect they incorporated was displaying rainbow, black, brown, and white flowers to represent the ways in which suicide and mental health challenges affect those in marginalized communities more severely. Kaylee told me that it was very powerful because of the sheer size of the display, and was somber in a beautiful way.  

Additionally, Students Against Sexual Assault has become an official club on campus. During the Fall Week of Action, President Kristen Kalibann and Maggie Blommer led the club and planted 1,000 flags on campus. There were six dark blue flags representing the perpetrators convicted, 314 teal flags representing victims who reported their cases, and 618 white flags representing unreported cases. These showcase the statistics in an easy-to-understand fashion for every 1,000 rapes. 

The Gender and Sexuality Partnership (GSP), led by August Stone, is another force on campus, having the largest number of club members of all the school’s diversity clubs. GSP hung flags in front of Franz Hall for National Coming Out Week. While all these student clubs advocate for different groups and passions, they have one thing in common: their dedication to students and their ability to cultivate a safe and welcoming space where all are welcome and all matter. They are here to open conversations that may be uncomfortable, but are crucial in this day and age. We are so grateful for the important work these clubs do because they play a major role in the student experience at UP.

Additionally, the Filipino American Student Association brought in Filipino food trucks to the Pilot House plaza for Filipino American History Month. The food was free and open to the entire student body! Lastly, the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee team went to nationals.

The UP Beacon, led by Austin De Dios, has been nonstop reporting news and coming out with new and intriguing stories. The Beacon’s main focus this year is fostering a strong and professional community on campus. Specific events the Beacon has covered include returning to in-person classes and events, the struggles that remain from the pandemic, and helping to tell the stories of our UP community. They continue to be a voice and outlet for students, addressing important issues and fighting for a better UP.

Now I would like to end with all the ASUP accomplishments. ASUP hosted a Leadership Conference with four other universities involved. The conference’s purpose was to unite other schools’ student governments and to encourage collaboration, advice, and a future dialogue. We had over 50 people attend the event, and leaders from different schools volunteered to lead workshops specializing in specific areas. We had five workshops focused on working with the administration, increasing student engagement, equity in the student government, gender equity, and creating a student legislature. The event went well and, as I said earlier, we hope to do another one in the spring. 

Two ASUP Special committees were recently formed: Pilots Matter Period and the BonApp committee.

The Pilots Matter Period request to form a committee was officially passed this fall. It’s been an ongoing project of our ASUP Vice President, Drew Jones, since his freshman year. Their hope is to provide menstrual products for free in every bathroom on campus. The Committee, chaired by Lizzie Wisely, will be working hard to continue this important work and make an impact. 

The Bon App Committee was started by me as an ongoing effort for transparency. This committee is chaired by Senator Meckey, and provides a means by which students can meet one-on-one with Bon Appetite’s director, Kirk Mustain, to discuss their questions, concerns, or comments. The Bon App Committee was able to address the long lines in the dining halls and find out that short staffing is not just affecting our school but the entire industry and country in general. It has been a model committee for opening the lines of communication between different parties. 

Student Services are up and running with Pilots Express, ADvantage, Espresso UP, ASUP Films, and the Compost Program. Thanks to VP Jones for getting these services started and the directors of each service for providing resources for these programs. As a result, students are able to submit work orders for ads, get a ride to the airport, pick up a free coffee or slushy on a Wednesday night, and take the night off to watch a movie with the UP community. Hannah Kyle, the director, estimates around 300 attend each night. She was able to successfully request more money to keep providing this fun service to students. Additionally, Communications Director Watkins has been working hard to give ASUP a positive forefront on campus. From getting people to sign up for the newsletter, to promoting other initiatives on the ASUP Instagram, Director Watkins has done an amazing job showing how much ASUP cares and wants to support others. 

ASUP is filled with 23 passionate people. During all the time I have been in the Senate, I have never seen such an inclusive and supportive group of students, who foster friendly competition, but know they have each other’s backs. I want to highlight Connor Heffernan, who has set a great tone in the Senate where everyone feels like they have a voice at the table. As ASUP, we have seen an ongoing theme in our work and that is to push to include more student voices, cultivate community, and have a little fun while doing so. It’s not only ASUP that is working on these things; we see it as a common theme throughout the UP community.

The state of the campus can be characterized as healing, adjusting, evolving, and determined to grow and advocate for student voices. As this speech comes to a close, I want to emphasize the importance of our UP community:

It is because of the cooperation of students, faculty, and staff that we are all back in-person and the semester has gone so smoothly. (Knock on wood, as it is not over yet). 

It is because of the unlimited support and compassion for one another that our sense of community is being rebuilt. 

It is because of our determination and excitement to be back in school that UP plans on continuing in-person education.

Each and every one of you has a place and purpose here, and it is important to recognize the power we hold individually. Because of this, we need to continue on the right path by taking care of one another and strengthening our community. It truly is special and the reason we all came to the Bluff. 

Emma Fuller is the ASUP president. She can be reached at

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