Running unopposed: one ballot, one candidate
Imagine a U.S. presidential election with only one presidential candidate and one party running. That is what this year’s ASUO elections are going to look like. Only one slate — ASUO’s version of a political party — is running in this election.
Students can either vote for Amy Schenk and her slate or write in their choice.
ASUO elections coordinator Hunter Mackin stated that another campaign was poised to enter the race but dropped out before any official announcements were made. Another campaign was in the works months ago with senator Hao Tan running for president, but dropped out of the race, citing time constraints.
ASUO controls a $16 million dollar budget funded by students through a mandatory fee called the incidental fee, or I-fee. ASUO funds student organizations, various contracts, the EMU and certain departments within the university. ASUO is organized similarly to the U.S. government, with senate, judicial and executive branches.
Members of ASUO aren’t too concerned about the idea of only one slate running.
“This might be better for the ASUO’s reputation because, when it comes to elections, it gets pretty nasty sometimes,” said ASUO senator and Interfraternity Council President Hao Tan. “As far as I know everyone who is running is very qualified.”
Although it is yet to be seen how this unexpected turn of events will affect the campaign season, candidates are scheduled to web campaign over spring break and ground campaign during week one of spring term. There will be a town hall on April 4 hosted by the Emerald. Voting will take place during week two.
Amy Schenk is running for ASUO president. She is a junior at UO, majoring in international studies with minors in political science and Arabic. She is currently the state affairs commissioner in the executive branch of the ASUO. She hopes to prove to the students that even though she is running unopposed, her mission is to represent all students and advocate for them to the best of her ability.
“We have to let students know that you have a voice in this. Yeah only one slate is running, but let’s let [students] know that they can do a write in,” she said. “Obviously I want to promote myself and the team I’m working with because I believe in my team in doing the job, but let’s provide options because it should be as democratic as possible,” she said.
Schenk plans to focus on advocating for affordable tuition, food security, safety and accessibility for students. She has been working on the issue of tuition since her freshman year.
“I recognize that it’s a very difficult thing to move and it’s a long-term project, but I think there are strides we can make here at the university,” she said of tuition. Schenk has worked with the United States Student Association on this issue in order to achieve tuition transparency and advocacy for students in this matter.
She plans to work with the Board of Trustees in order to lower the $945 tuition increase that is planned to occur next year.
Schenk also plans to make the Student Food Pantry more accessible for all students by moving it onto campus and removing the religious affiliation that it currently has.
A more personal focus for Schenk is finding more funding for the University Counseling and Testing Center. Schenk explained that during her freshman year, she experienced confusion about her identity and her sense of place at UO. “I definitely had to go see a counselor, because If I hadn’t I would not still be here at the university,” she said.
Because of her experience, she hopes to make it easier for every student to have access to mental health care as she did. “We should not be seeing a three-month wait list for students to go see a counselor, it’s really saddening,” she said.
Schenk also expressed her passion for putting a stop to aggressions toward people of color on campus. “That hall needs to be renamed because it’s a microaggression against a lot of communities here,” she said of Deady Hall.
Tess Mor is running for internal vice president. She’s a junior at UO, majoring in public relations with a minor in business. She is currently in the EMU board senate seat, and she also works at the “O”-desk and the card office in the EMU. In the 2015-16 school year, she held the business seat in the senate.
“I have been involved with leadership programs my entire life and got involved with ASUO because I was looking for a way to continue that at the University of Oregon,” she said.
As part of the EMU board, Mor helps student organizations create their budgets. She also works with space allocation and accessibility within the EMU.
Mor wants to make ASUO more accessible to students. She hopes to personally talk to students and show them what ASUO is about, so they can get involved and understand how ASUO can help them.
“I feel after being on senate for two years, I have an extremely deep understanding of what works and what needs to change, and with taking this position on, I hope I can work to create a more inclusive environment for student groups,” she said.
As ASUO internal vice president, Mor plans to listen to students with empathy and respect, and work with them in order to help achieve their goals. As for running unopposed, Mor plans to keep an open line of communication with students.
“Regardless of being the only slate running, we are still going to work hard, get out on the streets and have these crucial conversations with students because these are their student dollars and I want them to know where they are going and how they can access it,” she said.
Vickie Gimm is running for external vice president. She’s a junior at UO, majoring in ethnic studies and sociology. Gimm is an ASUO senator, a member of the Programs Finance Committee, director of the Multi-ethnic Student Alliance, financial director for the Southeast Asian Student Alliance, part of the Oregon Student Association and the United States Student Association, and chair of the National Women’s Student Coalition.
Gimm first joined the multicultural center during her freshman year, and realized that there needed to be more voices directly from the student groups themselves in ASUO, so she decided to join.
“ASUO is for student groups, and they weren’t allowing people from student groups to be involved in those decisions,” she said. She explained that she feels that many people within ASUO only joined for the leadership experience, and don’t necessarily understand the importance of allowing the student organizations to have a seat at the table, literally and figuratively.
“I wish they [members of ASUO] were directors of student organizations. I wish that they would step down and recognize that they were super unqualified to be there,” she said.
As part of the Programs Finance Committee this year, Gimm worked to get the groups that the committee was creating budgets for involved in the process.
“Traditionally, the PFC just tries to decide the budget without asking the student groups what they need, so I wanted to make sure that people practice asking ‘what do you need and what would you prioritize in your budget,’ as opposed to just making decisions for them,” she said.
Gimm plans to use her experience in both ASUO and student organizations to shift the attitude of ASUO. She hopes to make every part of ASUO more accessible, down to the computers that are located within the ASUO office. Currently, there are signs above them stating that the computers are only for student officials.
“That is completely inappropriate because every student pays the I-fee. We all pay for these resources and we should all be able to have access to them,” she said.
She also plans to shift the ASUO to being less friendly with administration, and more willing to be tough when it comes to advocating for students.
“I want to make sure that they [administration] know that student power is a force to be reckoned with on campus,” she said. She said she hopes to improve student involvement and get students at rallies and administration meetings.