The 2019-2020 ASUP Executive Board & Senate were sworn-in on Monday, April 15th at the final ASUP Senate Meeting of the 2018-2019 academic school year. The following students make up the recently elected ASUP members:
The 2019-2020 ASUP Executive Board & Senate were sworn-in on Monday, April 15th at the final ASUP Senate Meeting of the 2018-2019 academic school year. The following students make up the recently elected ASUP members:
Every semester the ASUP President presents a State of the Campus Address to inform the UP community of the projects ASUP is working on, highlights from student leaders, clubs, & organizations, as well as ongoing campus initiatives.
Read the following address given by ASUP President Sitara Nath on Monday, April 15th at 4:30 pm in St. Mary’s:
I would like to start this State of the Campus with the same Land Acknowledgement I used the last time I stood before you all – I hope it will be one of many lasting cultural changes in ASUP and UP’s practices.
We acknowledge the land on which we sit and occupy at the University of Portland. “The Portland Metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River creating communities and summer encampments to harvest and use the plentiful natural resources of the area” We take this opportunity to thank the original caretakers of this land.
For my concluding State of the Campus address, it seems appropriate to me to think back to the plans, promises, and hopes Michael and I shared with the student body during Speech Night last year. We stood before over 100 members of our community and I ended our candidacy speech by asking students to reflect on a single guiding question as they voted: What kind of legacy do we want our leaders to leave behind?
I recall that I asked this question because I didn’t yet have the answer. But I’ve always been compelled to focus on student legacies because our time here on the Bluff is so temporary. In many ways, what we do here can be reversible, short-lived, forgotten as years pass only to be dusted off and reclaimed as a fresh innovative idea by a new student leader. But if we reflect on the lasting impression we have left during our short 4-year tenure at UP, perhaps what we do here isn’t so temporary after all.
Looking back on this year, I see that many of the efforts led by students, faculty, and staff advocates have all reflected a common theme – one of building relationships that have never been explored before, of showing up for each other in a way that I have never seen on this campus. Everything about our legacy and our year comes down to this idea of opening doors for connection, community, and conversation.
As I was preparing for today, one of my friends poignantly reminded me that this is not a State of ASUP Address – it’s a State of the Campus. It seems fitting then, to start by looking out into what has been happening on our campus first and to recognize initiatives that have not had their rightful time in the spotlight, initiatives that have opened doors for students at UP.
One of those very initiatives that immediately comes to mind is that of the First-Generation Mentorship program through the Shephard Academic Resource Center. This program began in spring of 2017 and with the support of incredible leaders, advocates, and even ASUP, it has since become one of the strongest mentorship programs UP has to offer. Mentors discuss Life on the Bluff, financial aid, self-care, and so many other dimensions of student life that first generation students have a unique experience with. The First-Generation program is one that ought to remind us that the conversation of diversity goes down to the deepest parts of our identities – that it is not just about surface level differences, but also experiential commonalities that bring us together at UP.
Our year has also been shaped by some of UP’s most successful and most celebratory cultural events this semester. Guam Night, PCN, International Night, and Holi are just some of the outstanding examples of this – opportunities for students to honor their identities and origins and spaces for the larger community to broaden our minds and our hearts.
Hawaii Club’s Luau theme this year was “Coming Together for the Betterment of Our World” and I believe there simply is no better way than this to capture how UP’s cultural dialogue is also shaping our legacy.
Another group of leaders which has opened many doors for collaboration and inclusive dialogue has been the Diversity Collaborators and Yuri Hernandez Osorio. I want to honor these students by name: Hazel Stange, Karl Kahambwe, Stephen Laphen, Marisa Johnson, and Sabrina Legaspi. These students are often in the backdrop of the most intersectional and thought-provoking conversations that happen on our campus. This year’s Diversity Dialogues event series captures this beautifully – events on white feminism, a Holocaust Remembrance Shabbat, Defining Latinx, and Accessibility awareness all serve as reminders of the honorable work these students and Yuri have done to spark our campus’ conversations on truly inclusive practices. What they have created this year demonstrates the real value of our liberal arts education – one that seeks to uproot our preconceived notions of the world while offering us a deeply enriched and broadened worldview instead.
ASUP’s successes this year have also been groundbreaking and from where I stand, all of you have played an equally critical role in opening doors for the student body to connect and to collaborate. Senator Janiece Moore is someone whose work I want to highlight here – Senator Moore’s commitments to sustainability is evident in her community partnership with Ruby Beauchamp, another phenomenal leader who heads a variety of clubs and initiated the Sustainability Action Fund through ASUP. These two individuals have driven all of us to live with a level of consciousness and care that we will take with us wherever we go.
With the support of Senator Sage Taylor, ASUP also created a search committee which helped with the hiring of a new theology professor whose identity and specialty in queer theology reminds us why it is so crucial to have faculty members who reflect our student population. That search committee is an enormous point of pride for me this year – because it brought together voices who have not always been heard at UP and gave them a seat at the table. This success especially stands out to me as one which reminds us that diversity is not a platform but a way of being, a way of thinking, and a way of existing as a community.
ASUP’s contributions to our broader legacy also came through the numerous equitable, thoughtful, and deliberative decisions made this year by our Director of Finance, Brandon Wester – under Brandon’s leadership, the Students Against Sexual Assault received funding for their Spring Week of Action. Black Student Union was funded for their For the Love of Chocolate poetry slam event. The leaders of the Period Movement received funding to address the issue of inaccessible and unaffordable feminine hygiene products. All of these demonstrate Brandon’s commitment to true equity and inclusivity even in the midst of limited resources.
Under our Vice President, Michael Gallagher, ASUP Services have flourished and their collaborative spirit has as well. ASUP Films partnered this year with the Native American Association, Active Minds, the Gender and Sexuality Partnership, Black Student Union, the College Ecology Club and so many more. Also under Michael’s leadership, an initiative to provide free STI testing to the student body came to fruition which is now one of the lasting changes that he will be leaving behind. Michael, our partnership has made us a dynamic force to be reckoned with. Thank you for pushing all of us and for pushing me to remain rooted in our convictions.
Our organizational commitment to our values also cannot be fully appreciated without the recognition of our Director of Communications Kathleen Burks. This year, Kathleen’s role in expanding ASUP’s outreach to the student body has been the cornerstone of our success – her commitment to engaging the student body’s needs with our newsletter, social media, and Speech Night is the primary reason that ASUP is finally moving away from its reputation as an insular, inward looking organization – towards one that looks outward because Kathleen truly sees the potential in every relationship ASUP can build with students.
Aside from pushing ASUP to focus on our outward presence, it is equally important to acknowledge how our Speaker of the Senate, Brady Boos, has found ways to invite community members into our space. ASUP still has so much work to do to become an inviting organization but Brady’s efforts have actively welcomed community leaders from the Career Center, from the Presidential Advisory Committee on Inclusion, from student Athletic Committees, from Early Alert Coordinators, and so many more. That ASUP is functioning so well relies heavily on diligence, dedication, and professionalism Brady brings to the table every day.
The topic of student legacies also instinctively makes me think of the Campus Program Board leadership team and Director Kaity Sullivan. Her sharp wit, quietly powerful leadership, and unique creativity infuses everything she and her team have done this year. This year’s Rock the Bluff had an attendance of 2400 students but to me, it seems insufficient to measure the success of anything CPB does with just numbers. The word that keeps coming up from students is unforgettable – by far, one of the most impactful and lasting impressions that we have left on the student body has been every unforgettable experience that CPB has given us.
While the State of the Campus is one of the most important opportunities ASUP has to highlight successes and accomplishments on our campus, I believe it also must be used to address the work that has yet to be done. Being a student and stakeholder at the University of Portland necessarily gives us the right to criticize it objectively and to ask for more. In doing so, we remind this wonderful institution that we still believe in its potential to do more and to do better.
We know, for example, from the 1 year that it has been open that the Diversity Space established on campus is merely a refurnished conference room and that it is nowhere near sufficient in size and resources to address the needs of an increasingly diverse student population.
We witnessed from the Take Back the Night event coordinated by the Students Against Sexual Assault and It’s on Us team, that survivors of interpersonal and sexual violence silently exist on our campus, drawing resilience from the few spaces they have to safely share their stories. We know we still have countless steps to take before we have achieved a truly survivor-oriented support system and culture at the University of Portland.
We know that the hiring of a Director of Equity and Inclusion in February of last year was promised to us and that that hiring process, after failing once, has not been re-initiated.
We witnessed the heartbreak of students of color this year when classes, once again, were still scheduled during Martin Luther King Day – and while we know that UP will be recognizing this powerful day next year, we must problematize the extensive and unacceptable amount of time that it took UP to make this decision.
As we transition into yet another year of new leadership, I ask that all of us, especially those who will remain at UP, embrace our roles as stakeholders with these issues more than ever before.
It has been the biggest privilege of my life to serve with and for all of you this year. Thank you for your outstanding contributions to ASUP and to the student body. My biggest wish for all of you is that you continue our legacy of opening doors so that others can walk through them. It is truly a legacy worth fighting for. Thank you.
Check out these charts provided by Alan Timmins, VP of Financial Affairs for the University of Portland, to see the breakdown of UP’s 2018 Budget
I wanted to begin today’s State of the Campus address by doing something that I’ve seen Yuri and Becca Nerstad and some of our other campus leaders doing, which is a Land Acknowledgement. I think it’s really important that we start incorporating it into our campus culture and students of our campus to continue doing that. This one is from the Diversity & Inclusion Program’s page. I’ve been encouraged to tell you all that so you can also share this and incorporate it in your respective work: We acknowledge the land on which we sit and occupy at the University of Portland. The Portland Metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River creating communities and summer encampments to harvest and use the plentiful natural resources of the area. We take this opportunity to thank the original caretakers of this land.
When I was preparing the State of the Campus for today, I spent a lot of time asking myself how it was done in the past. What do I say, how do I say it, what do I focus on, and how do I best use this opportunity to ensure we continue to best serve the student body? I kept thinking the answer must be in how we’ve done things in the past. I went through the minutes of the past few years, I read through the transcripts of the leaders who stood here at this time last year and the year before that and the year before that. Somehow, I still wasn’t able to describe the unique, refreshing work of ASUP this year by looking at what leaders have said in the past. And then I had this really incredible moment of awakening when I realized that asking ‘What did we do in the past?’ is not the question to ask anymore. Because this has been a year of growth, of visions becoming reality, and of profound, meaningful change. So this year I decided to focus on answering the question ‘What are we doing now so that students can benefit for years to come?’
Because this year the State of the Campus is about shifting away from what has been to what can be. It’s about highlighting the change and unique energy that has been so visible on our campus. And its about the visionary leaders at the University of Portland who are keeping this change alive. It seems appropriate, then, when we start by looking at the beginning of the year to arrival of the incoming class of freshman who not only made up one of the biggest incoming classes, but also had the second highest number of underrepresented students in history at the University of Portland. ASUP’s presence, in particular, began strong as members of our Executive Board were present at almost every single Orientation event to welcome the students who are and will be taking on the work that we are starting now
And this effort to be seen, to be visible when it matters most to students, has been an incredible area of growth for ASUP leaders this year. We saw that first with the powerful presence of so so many of you at the Institutional Betrayal and Institutional Courage events that took place this fall, events that have strongly influenced the discourse on our campus surrounding survivors of sexual violence. In the broader national context of the Me Too movement, of supporting and believing survivors and translating that support into important actions, leaders at the University of Portland have persevered in keeping our campus engaged. It would be impossible for me to not mention the leadership of Dr. Sarina Saturn and Dr. Louisa Brad, two psychology professors who have taken our university’s discussion of sexual assault to a deeper level than ever before – we here may be student representatives but we cannot forget those unsung heroes, whether they be students or professors, like Dr. Saturn and Dr. Brad, who continue to advocate for students with the same passion and resilience that we strive for.
In talking about these unsung heroes in our community, it seems only fitting that we acknowledge and honor the work of several student leaders who have been instrumental in changing our campus this year. The names that immediately come to mind are those of Rachel Melman and Ryan Martin from Active Minds, who have been crucial in prioritizing the mental health and wellbeing of the student body. And of course, the Students Against Sexual Assault and the It’s On Us team are among those who we must acknowledge as leaders who have remained resilient in the face of adversity.
Emma Covert and Shelby Gavigan, the co-presidents of SASA, have been instrumental in advocating for ways in which our community can support survivors. Just recently, they made a groundbreaking step towards finding funding for confidential advocates to be made available for our students so that survivors can have support when working through the Title IX process. Their work has extended into powerful initiatives like the Fall Week of Awareness where compassionate listening workshops and other events gave us the necessary skills and knowledge to be part of the solution to a deeply rooted issue. In the wake of the Department of Education’s recent proposed changes to Title IX, it is more pressing than ever that we have these conversations – it is because of these broader conversations in our community that our entire ASUP Executive Board participated in Green Dot training. It’s the same reason that ASUP worked with the Title IX Office to bring Mike Domitrz to campus, the founder of the Date Safe project, to provide an opportunity for the student body to become further educated on consent.
In addition to the growth in these areas, we have also made incredible progress in our work with diversity and inclusion issues on our campus. Obviously, another unsung hero in our community comes to mind – Dr. Eduardo Contreras, who has taken on the role of Assistant Provost for International Education, Diversity, and Inclusion and has overseen the creation of a Diversity Space on campus. University of Portland students have been calling our administration and leaders to create this change for many years and this was one of the most important steps yet. Michael and I were very fortunate to run on a platform that is so timely with these efforts. Our platform centered on inclusion, engagement, and transparency, all of which we’ve been able to intertwine with the work of ASUP leaders and university administrators. With the help of many of you, we were able to establish a Diversity Committee to brainstorm and formulate ideas on how ASUP can best serve the diverse needs of the student body in the coming year.
Senator Nick Owen and Senator Megan Musquiz have been crucial in building those relationships between ASUP and diversity-based organizations on our campus. Senator Sage Taylor, with the many roles he holds in our community, has also been an immense source of support in ensuring that diversity and inclusion-based clubs are supported through ASUP Films, which is one of the services this year that has become very deeply valued by our student body. The work of these leaders and so many more of you ultimately led to the Diversity Roundtable ASUP just arranged a few weeks ago where leaders from the Black Student Union, Native American Association, Filipino American Student Association, the Gay-Straight Partnership, and many more clubs were able to come together and start discussions around the most pressing issues we’re seeing at UP today.
Our prioritization of engagement, through collaboration with other students also led us to co-organize a forum with the Gay-Straight Partnership earlier this year to discuss issues facing the LGBTQ+ community at the University of Portland- and we know this forum was following a huge effort coordinated by ASUP leadership to demonstrate visible support for those students when approximately 500 of us stood in silence and solidarity at the Red Mass – not to stir up controversy or conflict but to visibly remain steadfast in our values and commitment to a truly diverse, inclusive home for all. In turning our direction more inwards, I immediately want to highlight the incredible contributions made by every single one of you, the leaders who are all individually and collectively making ASUP the organization it is this year.
Never have I seen such committed senators holding themselves accountable to serving the student body above all else. But it’s not just your commitment to representation that has changed ASUP – it’s your commitment to values. Because we no longer read a mission statement that we had no part in crafting at the start of every meeting. We look, instead to our Affirmation of Values, a reflection of what we are committed to for the students we represent. This focus on values and approachability has changed our presence at UP immensely. And I must honor how much the ASUP Executive Board has contributed to that growth as well. As our Vice President, Michael Gallagher has not only contributed to Title IX and inclusion efforts on campus, but internally has done so much to ensure that Espresso UP, Pilots Express, ASUP Films and other services continue growing and providing experiences that students will cherish throughout their four years at UP. His dedication has also allowed for the possibility of new services to be added so we can continue providing for campus organizations.
Kaity Sullivan, our CPB director, has headed a team of truly inspiring students who continue putting together events that cultivate a campus culture that is innovative, energetic, and creative – her work with her team led to a record attendance at Riverboat this year and phenomenal engagement with other events throughout this semester. Our Director of Finance, Brandon Wester, has been so involved in making sure that ASUP’s financial resources best serve every student on our campus – so much so that this year, the Opportunity Grant was fully utilized for the first time since its creation. Students, clubs, and organizations asked for more money from ASUP this year than ever before. His work on making ASUP accessible and approachable has been central to our organization’s growth.
These efforts towards accessibility and visibility have also been so strongly supported by Director of Communications Kathleen Burks. Her work to keep ASUP transparent with the community is first and foremost seen with the ASUP newsletter which now maintains nearly 1,000 subscribers. This semester, Kathleen’s efforts to revamp the newsletter to be an all-encompassing platform of campus events and to provide feedback outlets throughout the campus, have tangibly demonstrated our promise to remain in open communication with the student body.
And lastly, Speaker of the Senate, Brady Boos, has brought so much order, focus, and accountability to our Senate. His passion for ensuring that Senators serve the student body, his dedication to following through with every student concern, and his efforts to ensure we are efficient and effective are admirable.
I want to conclude the State of the Campus address today by emphasizing that this list of accomplishments, of highlights, of important leaders on our campus – these are all examples of the changes we are implementing now to prepare for our future.
As we continue on this trajectory, it’s crucial that we continue to ask ourselves how our actions and our efforts are benefitting our current community and students for years to come in our community. Thank you all for contributing to this change and to this movement. I look forward to continuing next year with all of you and with more enthusiasm and energy than ever before. Thank you.
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