ASOSU Elections: Why your voice matters

Austin Schaeffer

As Beaver Nation is in the midst of week seven, it prepares for the next generation of student leaders and influential faces. It is time for Associated Students of Oregon State University (ASOSU), Oregon State’s student government, elections.

According to their website, ASOSU started all the way back in 1900 when the student body decided to raise money for the football team, which was in debt at the time. Originally adapted to the name “Student Assembly”, over time they gained the power of government after their constitution was established in 1906. ASOSU is set up just like the federal government, with the Legislative,Judicial and Executive branches said ASOSU Judicial Chair Luke Bennett. When asked what ASOSU meant to him, Bennett emphasized the importance of recognizing student needs.

“I usually like to describe it [ASOSU Student Government] as all about advocacy for students,” Bennett said.

ASOSU is currently going through elections, which is a three week process in which any student who filled out the paperwork and wants to run, campaigns in whichever way they see fit. The elections committee oversees the whole process, and voting takes place during February 18th through the 22nd. Bennett shared the ways that students can actually get involved.

“They can go to ASOSU.oregonstate.edu to vote, or during the week of voting we will have tables set up where students can use their iPads, and computers to vote with the assistance of ASOSU representatives,” Bennett said.

Bennett expresses that ASOSU has a lot of new initiative this year to push for voter engagement, with a goal of 20 percent of the entire student body voting.

“Twenty percent doesn’t sound like a lot, but twenty percent is about 7,000 to 8,000 folks,” Bennett added. “We have some new initiatives this year where once they cast their ballot, they actually get a coupon for a UHDS location on campus!” Bennett said.

Bennett described that one way students can engage with the candidates this year is to come sit in on the ASOSU Presidential/VP debate which will be in Studio A at Orange Media Network (OMN) on February 19th from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It will also be live streamed to OMN’s website and can be watched at a later time if needed.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to actually engage with the candidates. We also give the opportunity then for students to ask candidates specifically, what do you feel about this?” Bennett said.

Bennett believes that the best way of course for students to get involved in the voting process is let other students know to vote.

“We’ve seen within our demographics that one of the ways that people hear about ASOSU elections is simply by word of mouth. More than 35 percent of students vote because they heard it from someone else. We really like to make sure that were not just participating in civic engagement on a state level, but also at OSU and make sure students recognize that the students they elect do help affect change on a bigger scale,” Bennett said.

OSU has something that is called shared governance agreement. Bennett explains that shared governance affect things such as how much students pay in student fees every year, how money is distributed among facilities such as the recreation center and the health center.

“Students need to have a stake and a voice in every committee and decision made at the University, to an extent, which is by definition shared governance. That kind of reflects the nature of ASOSU as a whole. OSU has one of the most robust student governments in the state as characterized by our space, but also by how involved the students are within the process,” Bennett said.

ASOSU is accessible to the students and students are welcome to visit their representatives on the second floor of the Student Experience Center (SEC Building/Plaza) Bennett explained.

“I want the students to know that ASOSU is here to advocate for them. I think sometimes it can feel like there is a distance between us, but we are students as well and we understand what it means to be a student. It’s important for them to know that we accessible to hear those needs, and then express those needs to the administration,” Bennett said.

Bennett was proud that ASOSU has made a lot of success in the past with bringing student voices forward and putting them into action. This is their message for the students, and what they hope to achieve for the future.

“We are here to advocate for communities that are sometimes historically underrepresented, especially in big decision making policies. If we look at some of the successes of ASOSU in the past, we can see that those who WERE underrepresented such as our cultural centers, such as the Human Services Resource Center (HSRC), those came out of student concerns and those came out of ASOSU listening to student voice. I would like to students to understand, and know, that ASOSU is here to support them in any advocacy that we can. That’s really what we do, and what we strive to do in the future,” Bennett said.

Go vote now!