Our stance: Samara Mokaya for ASUO president, funding initiatives ballot is harmless

The following is the opinion of the Emerald’s editorial board and not Emerald Media Group as a whole. The editorial board is comprised of: Dahlia Bazzaz, Editor in Chief; Tanner Owens, opinion editor; Kira Hoffelmeyer, engagement editor; Jack Heffernan, digital managing editor; and Cooper Green, print managing editor. Kaylee Tornay, who normally sits on the editorial board, abstained from this editorial because of her involvement in ASUO reporting. 

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that candidate Quinn Haaga is the vice-chair of the Programs Finance Committee. She is the chair. 

The Emerald editorial board has decided to endorse Duck Squad’s Samara Mokaya as the ASUO’s next president.

Mokaya seems ready to bring about change for University of Oregon students based on a combined experience in activism and informed research. A political science major, Mokaya has served as a member of the Student Orientation Staff, Black Student Union and an outreach coordinator at the Multicultural Center.

Although Mokaya has no experience in student government, her two running mates do. Duck Squad’s external vice presidential candidate — Sophie Albanis — served as the ASUO Executive’s sexual and mental health advocate, while its internal vice presidential candidate — Abel Cerros — is currently in his second year as an ASUO senator and was the 2014-15 student representative on the UO faculty senate.

At the ASUO presidential debate on April 5, Mokaya touted her slate’s commitment to activism, stressing Duck Squad candidates’ multiple lobbying trips to the Oregon State Capitol in Salem. On top of that, Mokaya’s advocacy of students of color (who total roughly 24 percent of the student body) and other minority groups on campus could go a long way to providing such groups with a stronger voice.

While the candidates have all struggled to communicate satisfactorily concrete ideas, Mokaya and Duck Squad’s proposals stand out above the rest. Her ideas — including a new ASUO Senate liaison position and a new EMU food pantry for financially struggling students — mainly center on inclusion and accessibility, areas which could certainly stand to be a bigger focus at the UO.

Candidate Zach Rentschler and his slate One Oregon also support a food pantry in the EMU. While Rentschler’s commitment to the ASUO and breadth of knowledge is notable, it’s difficult to look past One Oregon’s exciting yet completely unfeasible ideas, such as bringing Uber back to campus.

Additionally, the questions raised against One Oregon’s campaign — questions of funding from local businesses and special interests such as the conservative activist organization Turning Point USA — leave us unsure whether they truly intend to serve the entire student body.

For a campaign that advocates for accessibility and affordability, One Oregon seems to have propped itself above the student body through its funding — which included $7,000 donated from its own external VP candidate, Tori Ganahl. That’s about double what either of the other platforms spent on their entire campaigns.

I’m With UO’s Quinn Haaga made a strong appearance. Her experience as ASUO senator and chair of the Programs Finance Committee showed in her concise, well-informed answers at Tuesday’s debate. Her confidence in conveying the ideas of her platform is indicative of a leader, and someone who will likely be a great asset to the ASUO next year. But much of her rhetoric is comprised of non-specific, recycled ideas — many of which seem to be moderate attempts at small change — and she seems to lean heavily on experience alone.

Despite our endorsement of Mokaya, we have concerns about whether she has a demeanor outspoken enough to sway the opinions of UO officials who may otherwise not support positions beneficial to students. But her responses were passionate and professional, and she spoke with a personal interest in the issues that matter on this campus.

When deciding who to vote for this week — and possibly next, in case of a runoff — voters need to consider which candidate has both the best vision for this campus and experience fighting for the things they believe in.

For us, that candidate is Samara Mokaya.

Ballot measure: funding initiatives of the student body

Why not? – This amendment to the ASUO Constitution would give students, not just the PFC, a say in what percentage of the annual incidental fee would go toward certain student groups.

As long as 50 percent of those voting for the initiative approve it, such initiatives would have to be factored into the budget. Since the incidental fee cannot rise above 5 percent in any given year, the senate could cap the increase if it rises above this threshold.

At best, the measure gives students more of a voice in the ASUO budget process. At worst, the ASUO Senate could strike down any request that pushes the incidental fee cap.

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Dahlia Bazzaz

Dahlia Bazzaz

Dahlia is the 2015-2016 Editor in Chief of the Emerald. Before becoming EIC, she worked as a crime reporter and columnist. She has also interned with Oregon Public Broadcasting.

When she's not in the Emerald newsroom, she enjoys listening to podcasts and figuring out ways to meet Amy Poehler.

You can contact Dahlia via email: [email protected]