Letters to the EditorOpinion

Letter: Students spoke out on issues through ballot measures

Last week, many of us cast our votes on DuckWeb for a wide range of public offices, from ASUO president and vice president to student senators to student committee members, races that garnered a great deal of our attention and energy. But many of us also cast our votes in a series of equally important but different decisions — the series of ballot measures that gave us an opportunity to change our Constitution and express our voice on issues that affect us.

You voted overwhelmingly in favor of expanding democracy on our campus by empowering students with the right to initiate funding decisions and to participate in our budget process. You recognized, like I do, that the students outside of student government are every bit as capable of exercising sound judgment about funding decisions as the students within student government.

You also decided that we need an accessible government — one that can welcome you into the office whenever you stop by for help. You voted to increase the hours your senators are available in your student government office to meet with students on the matters that affect them. We need all three branches of government to communicate and collaborate in order to serve students, and we need all three branches to make themselves available to the student who walks into the office for support from their representatives. Your vote has increased access to your student senators, and moved us once more toward a more open and professional student government.

I took the first step this year in reclaiming control of our student buildings — and you all took the next big one. By saying “yes” to our new student building fee committee model, you have incorporated a student-run building fee process into our Constitution and added yet another safeguard to our newly regained control of our student building fees. We need always to protect the rights and responsibilities we have, because I know firsthand that fighting to get them back once they have been taken from us is an uphill battle. The student building fee process is one of our most important rights and responsibilities, and we need to fulfill it year after year in order to guard it. This constitutional change will help us to do just that.

Finally, you spoke loud and clear on a wide range of advisory measures. Some of these may have looked familiar to you, because they were questions on which students have repeatedly expressed our voice. But the issues are still alive, and we needed to remind our institution what students need and want. We said again that we want a public university with statewide regulation of our tuition — we still have no interest in privatizing our University and shifting control of our University from elected officials, accountable to us, to unaccountable private and corporate interests. We said again that we do not need a campus police force with guns and Tasers to feel safe, and that the University should make a commitment to safety by keeping our campus weapons-free. And we said again, for the second time in six months, that we want a more affordable student union renovation that is accountable to the students. We also sent another message to our athletic department that athletics ought to support our academic mission and that the athletic department should pay its fair share to the campus community.

Your voice matters. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it doesn’t. On these issues and others, your voice has made an enormous difference to our institution and our futures. Thank you for adding your voice to our collective student voice and for taking some important steps to create a better future for your student government and for our university. Go Ducks, and remember to log onto DuckWeb before 5 p.m. Friday to cast your votes in the remaining candidate races.

Ben Eckstein
ASUO President

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