ASUO candidates discuss their goals and challenges in town hall
Candidates on the ASUO campaign slate UO For You answered questions at a public town hall on April 4 in the EMU. The town hall replaced the usual ASUO election debate because UO For You is the only slate running this year.
The slate is composed of Presidential Candidate Amy Schenk, Internal Vice Presidential Candidate Tess Mor and External Vice President Vickie Gimm. Gimm couldn’t attend the event.
This is the first year ASUO has only had one slate in recent history, according to Hunter Mackin, the ASUO election coordinator. ASUO faces a challenge in representing the entire student body’s opinions without offering them two different campaign options.
“I don’t want students to feel as if they don’t have a choice,” Mor said. Mor feels that in previous years, her, Gimm and Schenk would not have initially formed a single campaign because of their differing views; however she believes having a diverse slate is important. “The whole thing about senate is representing different views and the greater campus,” Mor said, “and the greater campus doesn’t have one view, it has many different views.”
“It’s really awesome that we’re able to coalition build and bring three groups that historically kind of divided ASUO elections all together,” Schenk said about the individual candidates backgrounds. “I see this campaign not as one slate but as a student movement.”
Both candidates said they would still do ground campaigning and phone banking for their slate even though they are running unopposed.
Schenk isn’t worried that candidates who may have initially campaigned against each other will differ over their goals. “There aren’t really different goals,” Schenk said. “We’re all really working for the same goal — providing for students and having the student voice heard on this campus.”
UO For You’s campaign platform centers around three main goals — Inclusivity, accessibility and affordability. Here are the specific initiatives the candidates presented for accomplishing each goal:
Mor mentioned advocating for a mandatory cultural competency training, possibly required during freshman orientation. “We were on the topic of diversity and things like that, and we were finding ways to put action behind our words and behind our advocacy. We really want to push that, potentially in freshman orientation, cultural competency is one of the required things that new students have to go to,” Mor said. “I think it’s a really good transition to the UO.”
Sharing her personal experience with depression in her freshman year at UO, Schenk said she will be a major advocate for increasing student access to mental health care. She wants to increase funding to the health center.
“Needing emergency care for depression really sparked a concern for me,” Schenk said. “Asking somebody to wait two months to get care for depression specifically, since I can talk on that, is asking way more than should ever be asked of a student.”
On the topic of tuition increases, both Mor and Schenk focused on advocacy. Mor said she wasn’t entirely clear on the power ASUO has in affecting tuition increases but understands it mostly as an advisory role. Schenk also advocated for increasing the number of student voices in tuition discussions. She has been involved in the Tuition and Fees Advisory Board in the past. Both candidates mentioned alternatives to increase affordability.
Mor said she wants to expand students groups without increasing fees. “I’m really passionate about student groups being able to expand their programs,” Mor said. “I hope to find a way that we can find a middle ground maybe, where it’s still affordable for students but we’re also still expanding student programs.”
Schenk wants to open a student food pantry on campus similar to the one at the Episcopal Campus Ministry on 19th Avenue. “The food security working group has done a lot of awesome work here on campus, so I want to heighten their effort and see what we can really do to bring food security here to UO,” Schenk said. “I think the food pantry is our most tangible aspect at this point.”
ASUO elections open Monday, April 10, the same day ground campaigning begins. UO For You is the only campaign registered, but the election allows for write-in candidates.
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