The following is the opinion of the Emerald’s editorial board and not Emerald Media Group as a whole.
The ASUO election is an opportunity for UO students to directly participate in their school’s democracy, but election turnouts the past couple of years have been horrendous. A total of 2,799 students voted in the 2016 ASUO election and 1,439 voted in 2017 — roughly 11 percent and 6 percent of the student body, respectively. ASUO handles roughly $16 million accumulated from students’ tuition, which is one of the many reasons why students should be voting in the election.
Unlike last year, two ASUO slates are competing this year to represent the student body: Ducks Together and United UO. The Emerald will not endorse a slate this election as they have in previous elections, but we endorse the idea that students should be informed so that they vote according to what they believe is best for the university.
According to its Facebook page, Ducks Together is “all about taking back student power.” Maria Gallegos and Imani Dorsey, the presidential and vice presidential candidates, stressed in last Thursday’s town hall debate that student voices will be protected and heard on issues like tuition increases. One of the slate’s main focuses is to make the student Food Pantry more available to food insecure students. Increasing Food Pantry availability was part of Amy Schenk’s campaign last year for her slate, UO For You.
It’s important to know that Ducks Together is primarily made up of current ASUO representatives. Although it’s not a defining factor, having experience on how ASUO works may translate well into the slate’s performance next year if elected. But sticking to the status quo may not sit well with students depending on their view of the current ASUO slate. In that case, United UO is the slate to consider.
United UO is campaigning on its five pillars: student safety, student housing, student health, transportation and community town halls. Among many things, the slate is more focused on infrastructure changes than Ducks Together, emphasizing the increase of lighting around campus in response to the recent robberies and increasing parking availability.
United UO’s slate members are made up of students who are not already in ASUO. Jacob Faatz and Karishma Shah are the running president and vice presidential candidate, respectively. Faatz has interned with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and has also interned for Oregon Senator Lee Beyer. United UO believes that the slate’s experience in local government and its fresh approach to the ASUO establishment will prove that it’s the right choice to represent UO students.
UO students need to know that ASUO will decide where their tuition dollars go next year and debate how much your tuition is increased the next year. Students who care about their money allocation have a say in where the money is allocated to. Students can call their representatives, or participate in town hall debates, but the first point of democracy starts with voting in who you believe represents you best.