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ASUO members sense culture of hostility in student government office



ASUO Sen. James Dos Santos doesn’t hold office hours in the ASUO office. He’s held them elsewhere for most of his tenure since he was appointed in mid-November. @@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@

“I can’t stand that office, it has a culture,” Dos Santos said. “If you voted on the other side of OSPIRG, it doesn’t feel very comfortable for you.”

The story about lobbying on the OSPIRG issue was brought up during interviews about ASUO Programs Administrator Sinjin Carey’s recent feelings that he was unable to do work in the student government’s designated office. Carey ran for ASUO president against Chief of Staff Ben Eckstein in the recent elections and said he generally felt unwelcome in the atmosphere. @@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@ @@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@

“The ASUO has changed to a place where diversity of ideas (is) no longer welcome,” Carey said in an email on April 28. @@”a place where diversity of idea and diversity of idea are no longer welcome.” in the [email protected]@

Dos Santos was one of two appointments on the body who voted to overturn ASUO President Amelie Rousseau’s veto of the budget that concerned Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group. Because his status on that vote was unclear before the vote took place in Senate, OSPIRG members and supporters contacted him to discuss the issue with him and answer questions he had.

“I don’t think lobbying is part of the student experience … all of the ones that were appointed (were contacted),” Dos Santos said.

Dos Santos said he was contacted by OSPIRG Board Chair Charles Denson and had two meetings with ASUO Vice President Maneesh Arora that lasted up to 45 minutes. Dos Santos said whenever he raised an argument against funding the group, there was always a counterargument raised against it. @@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@

“It took a whole bunch of my time … it was just kind of tedious,” Dos Santos said. “It wasn’t even open to debate.”

Denson said several OSPIRG representatives emailed all of the senators who he said “weren’t set against funding the group,” and “anyone who hadn’t already been outspoken.” He said that during his meetings with senators, the arguments they had were mostly things he had already heard before.

“Basically, it was all ones we’ve heard before; (such as) ‘Yeah, we’ve heard that and here’s why we disagree with that and why we think we should still be funded,'” Denson said.

Carey did not fully agree with the viewpoints of people in the office, while others in the ASUO have mirrored his feelings about the office. @@Nut [email protected]@

ASUO Sen. Kaitlyn Lange, Carey’s running mate in the recent elections, also said she can’t do office hours in EMU Suite 4 — the ASUO’s office — because of the atmosphere she feels there. @@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@

“First off, I would like to commend Sinjin for staying through his entire term.” Lange said. “That’s why you will never find me in the ASUO office, because of the cloud of negativity. It’s really disheartening to be in there, that’s why I think it’s amazing (Carey)’s stayed this long.”

What Lange mentioned referred to conditions Carey said he felt prior to the email. He said that after the election he had seriously contemplated resigning his post because he didn’t feel comfortable in that office after the election.

“Because of (election comments), I believe that the ASUO is not a safe place for me. Elections were brutal,” Carey said.

He was able to work out an alternate way to do office hours outside of the office. ASUO President Amelie Rousseau said this was a positive process for them, working out an alternative to the situation, but also said she recognized it was just an awkward situation to continue to work with the person he just lost to in the election.

Carey still spoke to how it was an unfortunate situation.

“It was fortunate that she was allowing me to be on staff and work outside the office,” Carey said. “It was unfortunate that the only place I would feel comfortable and do my work was outside the office, just because of the atmosphere in there.”

ASUO Outreach Coordinator Brian Allen, after discussing Carey’s incident last week, mentioned a simple “check” system in place for members of the executive staff, which Eckstein implemented at the beginning of the year. In the system, the idea of incremental disciplinary measures is used in organizations. @@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@

Several people, including ASUO senators, mentioned the system last week, hypothetically considering whether a comment of Carey’s on the Emerald website would lead to some part of this check system.

“I’ve heard there is a three-strike system; I don’t know if this is his third strike,” ASUO Sen. Janet Brooks said. “They probably don’t like him very much.” @@http://directory.uoregon.edu/telecom/directory.jsp?p=findpeople%2Ffind_results&m=student&d=person&b=name&[email protected]@

Eckstein called the system an expectation system and said it resembled one used in other professional contexts. He said there wasn’t a connection between Carey’s Emerald comment and this system because the system deals with expectations in the staff’s job descriptions.


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