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Q&As with the candidates for next year’s student body president



Starting April 4, you’ll have the chance to cast your vote for one of three students seeking the leadership of student government at the University of Oregon. If selected with more than 50 percent of the student body’s vote, by May 25 they’ll earn a $600 monthly stipend, act as the student body’s representative and oversee the operation of ASUO — which controls a nearly $17 million budget funded by incidental fees.

The Emerald’s Tran Nguyen spoke with them. Here’s what they had to say.

Zach Rentschler, One Oregon

(Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

Rentschler is hoping to improve upon student access to transportation, and be in on the Eugene City Council’s discussion to bring Uber back to Eugene. (Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

Student government experience: ASUO senator, former executive appointee to the Departments Finance Committee.
Other affiliations: member of Delta Upsilon, Oregon Student Association.
Twitter: @zachrentschler
Major: Spanish, French, Political Science, Journalism

Why did you decide to run for president?

It is something that I hadn’t thought of before this year. But there are a lot of changes that I want to see and a lot of people I want to bring into the process, so it ended up being the right decision for me. What I am really passionate about is prioritizing the services that students use every day.

“This year felt like business as usual to me, where a lot of priorities ended up slipping through the cracks because people were recycling last year’s budget into this year’s. So bringing some people into the process who can look at it with fresh eyes is needed.” – Zach Rentschler, One Oregon

On Feb. 13, Rentschler made an abrupt exit from the ASUO Senate budget meeting. He was the last senator to vote on the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee’s budget that cut the late night bus services. Without his presence, the senate didn’t have enough members to take a vote and had to send the meeting into recess.

What went through your mind when you stormed out of the budget meeting?

… Transit is one of the things that got me involved with the student government and pushing it off and acting like it was not all that important — when in fact a lot of students depend on it everyday — made me want to disrupt the business as usual.

You have been very vocal about improving students’ accessibility. How will you go about accomplishing that?

For example, people who live out in Autzen, they can’t access any incidental fee[-funded] event without thinking about the way to get home past 9 or 10 p.m. That means they can’t access Ducks after Dark, Divisi singing at midnight or a lot of experiences that make being a UO student really great. [And] making sure people basically have a way of getting to and from campus either through expanding Safe Ride, or the buses. All of those basically increase access to campus and make campus community a lot richer.

Many of the candidates on your slate are new to the ASUO; do you see that as a disadvantage?

I think it’s a challenge and an opportunity for the ASUO. This year felt like business as usual to me, where a lot of priorities ended up slipping through the cracks because people were recycling last year’s budget into this year’s. So bringing some people into the process who can look at it with fresh eyes is needed. Thinking of these people as new at the ASUO is only telling half the story, because they have been fighting on these issues already and they will continue to fight regardless of whether they will be elected.

Samara Mokaya, Duck Squad

(Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

Mokaya thinks that campus safety could be improved by more well-lit areas on campus, and that student activism is a powerful mechanism for effecting change. (Cole Elsasser/Emerald)

Student government experience: None
Other affiliations: Member of the Student Orientation Staff, Black Student Union, outreach coordinator at the Multicultural Center.
Major: Political Science

Why did you decide to run for president?

I was sitting down one day and I was like: “I could let other people make decisions and hope that they are hearing what I am saying — hope they are listening to my voice. Or I can be the one who enacts those changes.”

“We are not looking to fluff our resumes. We are not looking to launch careers in government. We’re looking to make our school better.” – Samara Mokaya, Duck Squad

Why should students vote for your campaign?

We want to hear all the voices, not where the power has been concentrated … And the best way to do that is to get students from different backgrounds with different ideas to create a shared picture and put a puzzle together.

We are making sure — whatever we do — that we are doing it for the benefit of students. That’s why we’re listed on our Facebook page and website as a community and not a political organization. We are not looking to fluff our resumes. We are not looking to launch careers in government. We’re looking to make our school better.

You don’t have any student government experience; will that be a disadvantage?

I don’t see it as a disadvantage. I think there should be an acknowledgment that senate and the ASUO do have governing power, but I also think that we need to acknowledge there’s power within our student body as a whole.

How do you hope to improve safety on campus?

There are places on campus where there are no lights. We want to make sure that the university is a well-lit campus where students can actually safely walk home. We also want to make sure DDS and Safe Ride are expanded.

How will your experiences in social justice activism help your slate as leaders?

When we have a problem, we can attack it from a governing [point] of view … Or we can protest. We can do direct action. We can do other things in which we can go around the system, which I think is very powerful.

Quinn Haaga, I’m with UO

(Cole Elsasser)

Haaga thinks that merging Safe Ride and Designated Driver Shuttle services would be an efficient move for the university. (Cole Elsasser)

Student government experience:ASUO Senate vice president, and vice chair of the senate’s Programs Finance Committee.
Other affiliations: member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, vice president of accountability for the Panhellenic Executive Council, development coordinator for Camp Kesem, member of Environmental Leadership Program.
Twitter: @astoldbyq
Major: Planning, Public Policy and Management.

Why did you decide to run for president?
…I feel like I have a really strong understanding of what the ASUO needs to do to better serve the students. Working in the ASUO for the last three years has helped me identify the weaknesses in the ASUO where we could be a lot stronger both in outreach and with programs throughout the whole budget process.

“Working in the ASUO for the last three years has helped me identify the weaknesses in the ASUO where we could be a lot stronger both in outreach and with programs throughout the whole budget process.” – Quinn Haaga, I’m with UO

Why should students vote for your campaign?
Our executive definitely brings the most experience within ASUO to the table, which I personally think is really important when running the ASUO … We [the executive] have a lot of experience working directly with the budget process, which is also something very crucial because it’s such a big part of ASUO.

What would set your campaign apart from others?
We really work to set tangible goals, things that we really feel that we can accomplish within a year, and I think that our experience inside ASUO has definitely allowed us to identify areas that can be strengthened within the ASUO.

We also want to work on the collaboration of Safe Ride and DDS — we have the support from Safe Ride in our campaign and we know from the program side how this merger could potentially work.

How do you plan to keep tuitions and fees affordable for students?
We are advocating for tuitions and fees transparency. What that would look like is a page on the student government website where students can go and see exactly where their money is being spent and how the university is using our money. Also our team would be more than willing to lobby to make sure that students’ voices are being heard.

Why and how would you merge Safe Ride and DDS?
They provide similar services and they are both funded through PFC. To combine them would use the finances efficiently and effectively.

We will start with a conversation with the leadership teams of both [services] to see how the merger fits … Something I think is very important with this merger is to get the support from the administration, which in talks with President Schill I think he expressed is something [it] could potentially be interested in.


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Tran Nguyen

Tran Nguyen

Crime and Court senior reporter, specializing in sorting through non-interactive spreadsheet. Formerly reporting on ASUO, Housing and Construction.

Send tips to [email protected] Follow me on Twitter @tranngngn. K thanks bye.