Quinn wins: what happened, and what’s next for the new ASUO President
The newly elected ASUO President Quinn Haaga has always stuck to one principle when it comes to student government: “to either go all the way or not do it at all.”
Haaga, a junior majoring in planning, public policy and management, led the I’m With UO campaign that won the executive race and 19 open seats in the election this year. In the runoff election, the I’m with UO executive ticket beat its opponent, One Oregon, by 1,689 votes.
“I want to be a hands-on president. I want people to know who I am and what ASUO is; I want them to know what we can do for students, what we are working on and what we are accomplishing,” Haaga said.
Haaga’s ASUO involvement began during her freshman year when she interned for senator Taylor Allison, who ran for president that year. Haaga’s job was to research student governments around the nation. The same year, she ran in her first election for Senate Seat 2 and won.
She later became the chair of the senate Programs Finance Committee, where she worked closely with Zach Lusby and Natalie Fisher, who are now her vice presidents.
When she assumes the role of student body president on May 25, Haaga will act as an official spokesperson for the entire student body. The ASUO President, paid a $650 stipend per month, is also responsible for appointing members to her cabinet and any vacant finance committee positions.
Haaga felt that the combination of her ASUO experience and past activist involvement prepared her for the job. In high school, she was involved in advocacy work with her school’s Rotary Club, combatting human trafficking in California. The San Carlos, California, native also spent her time playing water polo and participating in choir.
A school trip to the Yosemite Valley in fifth grade sparked her appreciation for nature. Since then, Haaga has wanted to make positive environmental changes. She plans to attend graduate school and work with nonprofits to battle climate change.
Her parents, an art teacher and a graphic designer, do not know much about politics at University of Oregon, but they are Haaga’s biggest supporters.
“My mom even asked if she could phone bank from home,” Haaga said. “It’s hard to explain all the nuances of everything that was going on, but I tried to update them as much as possible, and they were very excited with all the campaign’s drama.”
Despite the familial support she received, she described herself as the “black sheep” of her family.
“[My parents] are very artistic, so are both my [little] brothers,” Haaga said. “My grandparents are too. It pretty much runs in the family.”
Haaga, though, is described by others as an example of organization and efficiency.
“I don’t have any room for procrastination,” she said. “I map things out and get them done pretty early on.”
Haaga, in fact, was planning her role in this year’s election early – with another slate. She initially agreed to run as a vice presidential candidate with Duck Squad.
But soon after, Haaga decided to run for president with her own slate, taking several potential Duck Squad members with her.
“By running by myself, I would have more ownership and I felt like we could create a strong campaign,” she said.
Duck Squad’s executive slate was eliminated from the runoff ballot because it received less than half the number of votes received by its two competing campaigns.
“I don’t feel confident that [Haaga] will uphold her promises at all,” Duck Squad campaign manager Vickie Gimm said. “She is not somebody that will take responsibility for her actions, and it’s hard to hold her accountable.”
Haaga, who is the vice president of accountability for the Panhellenic Executive Council, and others formed I’m with UO within a couple of hours one night in late February, Haaga said.
“There were six of us, and we had Zach [Lusby] on the phone,” Haaga said. “It’s just amazing how fast we were able to put together this group of amazing individuals.”
Haaga didn’t give up any of her other commitments while running for president, including her involvement as a co-development coordinator at the nationwide Camp Kesem, a summer camp for children who have parents with cancer. While her slate members were celebrating the overwhelming victory last Friday, Haaga was driving to Portland to hold a fundraising campaign for Camp Kesem. The event surpassed its goal, Haaga said – over $21,000 was raised that night.
One Oregon’s presidential candidate Zach Rentschler spoke right after election results were released, acknowledging Haaga’s experience.
“I’m glad that Quinn [Haaga] has become the next ASUO president,” Rentschler said. “She has been a strong leader on the ASUO Senate, so I am excited to see her take on the role as executive.”
I’m With UO focused its platform on issues such as campus lighting, merging DDS and Safe Ride and advocating for tuition transparency. Haaga also plans to work with the current ASUO president Helena Schlegel and her executive team to continue their projects.
“The ASUO Executive has worked on a lot of important initiatives. They started the conversation about the active shooter response and campus lighting; they also tried to work on the food pantry.” Haaga said. “[A lot of those] issues are what our campaign wants to continue and definitely make happen next year, so we will be in discussion with them.”
One of Haaga’s goals is to amend the language in the ASUO bylaws, known as the Green Tape Notebook, to force all ASUO events to be inclusive to all students regardless of their age, reading level, learning style, native language, culture or religion.
For Haaga, it’s important to stay connected with the student body as the ASUO president.
“My goal is to serve the students, make this campus a safer and more inclusive place. I’m looking forward to representing all the students at the University of Oregon and having their best interests at heart,” she said. “That’s what an ASUO president needs to do.”
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