ASUO introduction: Meeting the people who represent UO students
They represent the University of Oregon student body. They meet weekly to develop projects and campaigns that serve students’ best interest. They decide on how and when to spend a $16 million Incidental Fee budget throughout a school year. They are the Associated Students of the University of Oregon.
The ASUO is made up of the executive, senate and constitution court. ASUO President Helena Schlegel leads the executive branch with vice presidents Claire Johnson and Francisco Morales-O’Connor. The executive staff also includes other positions that focus on student advocacy.
Although every year the ASUO goes through the same list of duties, Schlegel chose to kick off this year differently. To strengthen communication among students, a new website is underway, along with a bi-weekly or monthly newsletter that will be sent to all students. The newsletter will inform students of ASUO campaigns and projects as well as ways to participate, Schlegel said.
“We try to make everything more accessible to students,” Schlegel said. “The newsletter will help us to interact more with students and let them know how to get involved with what we do.”
Schlegel said the executive staff will also continue to grow and develop last year’s campaign for cultural competency through workshops that will be accessible to the public. Cultural competency training will help improve both students’ and staff’s skills when interacting with others from different backgrounds, Schlegel said. The ASUO is looking to hire a multicultural advocate to oversee the program.
The student government is also focusing on other issues such as making gender-inclusive bathrooms available in all buildings on campus, changing the stipend model and helping expand the University Counseling and Testing Center.
Finance Director Shawn Stevenson said his committee has been working to improve the athletic contract and the budget for this year.
“We will also have the street fair happening on week three,” Stevenson said. “I’m looking forward to that, too.”
The ASUO senate, composed of 20 elected senators and one non-voting freshman representative, meets weekly to hear special requests and budget changes. In these meetings, students can also voice grievances, concerns or requests in the public forum. The senate can also vote on resolutions on behalf of students of UO.
Senate spends much of fall term on special requests, as well as ideas for potential projects and plans to execute them.
Winter is budget season. Finance committees meet with student groups to renew or modify their annual funding.
As the heat in spring term rises, the heat in ASUO also rises — it’s election season. From grievances about potential fraud to sexual harassment, ASUO elections have historically been plagued with conflict.
On Sept. 25, Schlegel resigned from her position as the student member on the university’s Board of Trustees and the board is now looking for a replacement. The executive staff also has several positions to fill. Open positions are listed on the ASUO website.
Students who are interested in learning more about the ASUO can attend weekly senate meetings or visit the ASUO office in McArthur Court.
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