Portland State University's student government may seem a safe haven for budding policy wonks to serve the school's 23,500 students. More often, however, it seems lately to breed chaos, mismanagement and distrust.
Whatever good intentions the group may have, this week's Rogue—the entire Associated Students of PSU government—is almost always outdone by its own collective incompetence.
Examples of this abound. But the latest shenanigans vault the ASPSU from mere uselessness to Roguishness. And, yeah, we know that U.S. presidential races are far more consequential than student government elections, but we're going to say this anyway: We haven't seen tomfoolery like this since the 2000 presidential selection, er, election.
On Friday, April 20, PSU junior Rudy Soto was declared the winner of ASPSU's presidential contest on the highly curious grounds that he, um, earned the most votes. Within hours, however, junior Patrick Beisell, his opponent, appealed the results, arguing Soto was ineligible because he briefly lacked enough credit hours to qualify as a candidate.
Soto, whose scholarship at PSU is dependent upon keeping a full load of 12 or more credit hours per term, admits he briefly slipped below the six-credit mark for candidates, but only because it was an add-drop period and he was making a complicated scheduling change that required professors' signatures. Soto says he was again registered for 12 credit hours by the Monday after the Friday election.
Yet ASPSU's judicial board ruled May 1 that Soto was ineligible for the job. In the meantime, the university's newspaper, The Daily Vanguard, urged the elections board to uphold Soto's victory, calling Beisell's appeal a "misguided grab for power." Beisell says it was not: "My desire to be president isn't at the forefront of what I'm doing."
Now ASPSU's election board has decided to do what quarreling children often do: turn to real adults for help. A legal opinion is expected from the Oregon Department of Justice this week.
Meantime, ASPSU has further undermined its role on campus, where 8 percent of students voted. They clearly do not think their votes count. "It's ironic," Soto says, "that if this is all overturned, that their concerns will prove to be true."