The night before the 1999 Portland State University student elections, Tim Young’s running mate was declared academically ineligible to run for office. Young was told his name would not appear on the ballot, but he could run as a write-in. He was given 24 hours to find a new candidate and four days to change a campaign that took three months to build.
“People came out of the woodwork to lend a hand, and I don’t think anyone slept that weekend,” he said.
Young and his new vice presidential candidate pulled off an improbable victory as write-ins and they took it by a landslide — a feat that landed the pair in Newsweek magazine the next year.
“It was the one of the most beautiful moments in my life when we all got the news that we won. The feeling that we had was indescribable,” he said. “Without a doubt, running for student body president was the most character-building experience in my life.”
Now, three years after winning the race, Young has relocated down Interstate 5 to be a University senior and aspiring law student who has spent five years fighting for student interest — and is currently one of two student members on the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.
As president of PSU, Young successfully advocated for numerous student interest issues including keeping students on the Oregon Health Plan, running a successful bone marrow drive for a needy student, advocating for lower student loan rates and establishing a 24-hour computer lab and library access at PSU.
“Its your job as a student to create an environment of opportunity,” he said. “When I got into a position of power, I did not waste my time.”
Young has continued to fight for student interest while serving on the Oregon State Board of Higher Education. Consisting of 11 members, the board is the governing body for the seven Oregon University System campuses. Members are appointed by Gov. John Kitzhaber and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. Nine members are appointed for a four-year term and the two student members are appointed for a two-year term .
The 22 year old was appointed to the board in June 2000 and has been an active member since his first day. He saw his position on the board as an opportunity to be the voice of Oregon students, and it was his goal to make his voice heard.
“I wanted to be taken seriously,” he said. “Students have not been taken seriously, and I have worked to change that attitude toward students.”
As a member of the State Board of Higher Education, he has successfully fought for student interest. He advocated for increased state investment in the OUS and supported permanent Inter-Institutional Faculty Senate and Oregon State Association report items on the OUS board agenda.
Erin Watari has worked with Young on the board and has known him since he was a freshman at PSU. Watari said working with Young has been educational and enjoyable.
“He’s so great. He has such heart and true passion, and he’s always working in the best interest of preserving public higher education,” Watari said.” He has so much passion for the board. To be able to work with somebody like that has been so educational.”
Young and Watari successfully lobbied to get student representatives on the OUS chancellor search committee. As members of the committee, students participate in the screening and selection process to find the next OUS chancellor. Young was honored when he was selected as a student participant.
John Wykoff, a former lobbyist for the Oregon Student Association, said Young and Watari are the most effective student members to be on the board in years.
“They have served the students of Oregon extremely well,” Wykoff said. “They have been very effective advocates.”
E-mail reporter Katie Ellis