Letters to the EditorOpinion

Letter: ASUO will continue to fight for student input

Fall term was a time of challenge and triumph for the student body of the University. The term repeatedly tested the strength of our student voice, and at every turn the ASUO Executive stood with students to assert our right to a say in our own education.@@At every turn? Really? damn it. And you know who else used the words challenge and triumph in everyday language? [email protected]@

The year began when we fought for students to reclaim control over fees and their student union and recreation center. Many on campus are excited by the prospect of renovating the EMU and the Student Recreation Center, but these are student buildings, and they must be tailored according to student needs. From the beginning of the process, students were left out, right up until the point when the ASUO successfully advocated to the State Board of Higher Education to put a stop to the project plans until University administrators put the projects in student hands.

From that point on, the ASUO fought to put student interests at the center of the projects. Many student groups were left out of the process of planning the EMU renovation, and some even faced losing their group spaces in the new building. The ASUO secured a written agreement from Student Affairs that guaranteed the projects would include students and protect their needs, first and foremost. They also created student-steered committees for each project and secured guarantees to protection of space in the new buildings.

When given a chance to vote on the proposed projects, students turned down the projects as they stood. The ASUO will continue to ensure that no projects will move forward without student support and will work with Student Affairs to bring students a revised proposal for a more affordable, more student-centered renovation project.

Students were also shocked to hear about the termination of President Richard Lariviere — a process that allowed no student input. As the University moves forward with the search for a new president, the ASUO will not allow students to be left out of the process. Students are guaranteed at least two seats on the search committee that will select the new University President, and the ASUO is negotiating for more student seats.

This last term also marked an attempt to restructure the Office of Multicultural Academic Success@@http://pages.uoregon.edu/omas/@@ without the consent or input of the students who use its services every day. Students stood up and fought back, calling for a halt to the restructuring until students were brought into the decision-making process. While Student Affairs has continued to resist student involvement, the ASUO has maintained its support for the coalition of students of color and allies who continue to fight for a restructuring plan that serves student interests.

This fall, students spread awareness about the lack of financial accountability our athletic department has toward the academic mission of our University. Student and faculty leaders on our campus have pushed the athletic department to open the curtains and re-examine its priorities, and we have engaged in substantive conversations with the athletic department on how we can make sure our athletic success contributes toward our academic mission and not the other way around.

As we look ahead to winter term, we can expect the student body will face challenges and opportunities, new and old. At a time when four out of five eligible Oregon Opportunity Grant recipients are shut out of their aid due to a lack of state support, the ASUO will be in Salem on a regular basis throughout the February legislative session as we empower students to protect their right to a quality, affordable and accessible University of Oregon education.

With the changes and challenges facing us this year as students, and as citizens, we have an unbelievable chance to rediscover the unlimited potential of our education. We will fill Salem with our voices as we demand a future for public education. We will demand more funding for student financial aid. We will demand lower tuition. We will decide the future of our state — that’s part of the heritage of being a Duck. Whether we’re from in-state, the farthest reaches of the U.S., or the farthest reaches of the world — we are Oregon. Here on campus, we will continue building strong partnerships with our University administrators while holding them accountable to our interests.

We will not let them forget that it is we, the students, whom they are here to serve. We will shape the future of our campus and our University — on issues ranging from sexual assault reporting policies to the EMU/SRC projects to tuition levels. It is our school and it is our say. The power rests with every single one of us, because we are this University.

Ben Eckstein
ASUO President

Katie Taylor
ASUO Vice President

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