Even today, Schultz is still True Blue

Anyone concerned about the so-called everyday students’ access to the needlessly insular world of student government could look to ASUO Sen. Nick Schultz as a potential champion for opening up campus politics to students who haven’t been involved since they came through IntroDUCKtion.

If only Sen. Schultz stuck around long enough to vote.

Last week the Summer Senate committee voted to give the ASUO Executive $2,000 of the committee’s $5,000 budget to send a few extra students to the United States Student Association’s National Student Congress in Boulder, Colo., at the end of the month. The funding request passed by 3 votes to 2, with Sen. Demic Tipitino and Summer Senate Chair Nick Gower voting against it.

Voting in the affirmative were Sens. Jeremy Blanchard and Zachary Stark-MacMillan, who were elected on Schultz’s True Blue slate, and Kristine Jensen, who ran with Gower. Schultz said he could only attend the meeting for 15 minutes but did not explain why. After speaking against the request and saying he would vote against it, he left before the vote was called.

If Schultz had stayed to cast a ‘no’ vote, President Emma Kallaway seemed prepared to cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of her own request.

In the end, Jensen cast the deciding vote. The Students First slate that Gower and Jensen ran with eschewed ideological definition, though the fiscally conservative Gower recruited Jensen, and one would assume he would have preferred she vote the other way.

It isn’t a surprise to see slates split after a student government election. There is no party apparatus to force senators to vote a certain way, and most senators don’t ever stand for re-election. Besides, it was the more liberal Schultz who presented the strongest arguments against Kallaway’s request.

Schultz said the conference was a “wonderful opportunity” to educate executive staff about legislative lobbying, but could also provide an opportunity for students who had not received such training before. He questioned why the executive would send students who have gone to Congress “multiple times.”

This was not the first time Schultz, a former Programs Finance Committee chairman who generally favors student group funding, has clashed with the USSA crowd. During the campaign, several students connected to USSA and the Oregon Student Association pointedly questioned his commitment to legislative lobbying. One of those students, ASUO Legislative Affairs Coordinator Rachel Cushman, will attend the conference because of the surplus request.

To accuse Schultz of a simple tit-for-tat, of still bearing a grudge because of one negative news story that probably did little to effect the election outcome (let’s be serious: It wasn’t a close race for Schultz), would miss the entire point of the campaign he led in the spring.

Highly motivated, idealistic, cribbing at every turn from the Obama campaign, True Blue knew too much about federal politics and nothing about how to win a campus election. They had no base in student unions – as evidenced by the backlash to their lobbying pledge – or in Greek Life, or anywhere else, really. So they handed out leaflets, they canvassed neighborhoods, they made a ridiculously professional Web site; they campaigned the way they had for Obama.

And in the end, it’s safe to assume that most of the 642 students who voted for Schultz may not have voted otherwise. If True Blue had never existed, it is unlikely senators Stark-MacMillan and Blanchard would have found their way onto a slate or that his spokesman Curtis Haley, now Kallaway’s messaging guru, would have found a job working for the executive.

In this context the positions Schultz took last week – that student lobbying is good and out-of-state conferences are an acceptable use of student dollars, but students from outside the establishment should have a shot at attending them too – are a logical extension of the True Blue campaign.

It’s a middle ground that could allow senators to support student programs without always capitulating to the same groups, and advocate the responsible use of student dollars without sounding like Newt Gingrich.

It could, that is, if Sen. Schultz can stay for longer than 15 minutes.

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