The way that students of color vote is vastly important for this ASUO election. The harassment that UO students of color face has recently become more public, whether because of the nazis on campus, anti-immigration graffiti or racist costumes from faculty. Both slates have stated that the safety of marginalized students is a major concern for their platform, but students of color should be concerned about the inexperience of United UO.
Last Thursday, I went to the ASUO town hall debate. Ducks Together and United UO were ready to prove the importance of their slates and why they deserve the vote. A common theme in the questions being asked was the focus on marginalized students, particularly students of color. Questions circling around cultural competency, safety of students of color, mental health and First Amendment protections were posed.
Toward the end of the Q&A with both slates, United UO vice president candidate Karishma Shah, in expressing support for students of color on campus, showed UO students the potential concerns with leaders who have little experience in ASUO. She stated, “We can also encourage the cultural groups on campus to ask for more funding.”
Shah, who is a member of the Indian Student Association, showed good intent and experience on the issue concerning student organizations but didn’t propose a sufficient plan to assist those groups.
Marginalized student organizations have been denied increases in stipends yearly and have had to fight to keep ASUO from allocating their funds elsewhere. Student of color organizations do not need “encouragement” in requesting funds because they are continuously begging to keep the pennies that they are able to have.
Due to rises in tuition, employment of college students has risen to an all-time high. According to a survey released by Business Wire and Seventeen Magazine, nearly four out of five students are employed for full or part-time jobs. Students’ time is more costly, which makes it hard for them to do labor that is not properly compensated. For marginalized students, this issue is on top of the stigma and harassment they receive from peers, and as vice presidential candidate Karishma Shah stated, marginalized students are more likely to feel unwelcome on university campuses. Yet they are supposed to be fine with practically doing free labor for the university.
Many marginalized student organizations do the major recruiting for their community – enough work for a full-time paid position. The ranges in stipends vary between organizations, but even groups like the LGBTQIA3, with one of the highest stipends for marginalized student organizations, will still have student leaders struggle in their leadership roles because they are not compensated properly.
In response to concerns about stipends, United UO stated that they were unsure how to help fix stipends because of their lack of experience on ASUO. Ducks Together stated that there are problems with the current stipend model which currently allows the university to not “[pay] students the money that they deserve.” Though Ducks Together does not promise hourly wages, they are willing to work on the current stipend model with their senate and financial officers.
“We’re not here giving students a voice. I know you don’t need encouragement. … I know what you need because I’ve been there,” said Gallegos, presidential candidate for Ducks Together.
Ducks Together is more equipped and more experienced to handle the issues that marginalized students face so that we don’t have to take any steps back. Marginalized student groups that care about progressing on the issues that we still face today should vote for Ducks Together.