Ducks Together won the 2018 ASUO elections by a landslide last week. Students have learned about each campaign’s ambitions and goals throughout the election process, but now that we know who will be taking over, what should we expect?
Ducks Together’s slate focused its campaign on “taking back student power” by protecting student voices and funding student aid services, such as mental health counseling and a food pantry. As students, you can expect that the 2018-2019 ASUO administration will prioritize marginalized student communities, push back against administration and get an early start on their agenda.
Supporting marginalized students
Diverse students and minority groups can look forward to support from ASUO. The Ducks Together slate includes many minorities, including people who are working class, queer, trans, immigrants, disabled and people of color. These minorities can expect to have their voices heard with representation in ASUO. Beyond that, president-elect Maria Alejandra Gallegos-Chacon wants to make supporting marginalized communities a priority.
“This position comes with an enormous amount of power and privilege, and I just want to make sure that all of that goes back to benefitting the marginalized communities on campus and hopefully for the [larger] community, because this was a largely community-led campaign,” Gallegos said.
One way Gallegos plans to support marginalized students is by re-working the stipend model given to ASUO-funded groups on campus, which became a hot issue during the ASUO town hall debate prior to the election. Gallegos believes that changing the stipend model will benefit large student groups who bear a tough workload with little pay.
“The stipend model really hurts some groups. Some of the larger groups don’t get a very beefy stipend. … Only certain staff members get stipends, but if you have more [members] then it kind of punishes groups for hiring more students,” Gallegos said. “I think that’s a good thing the senate will be able to work on over the summer.”
Another thing students can be sure of: Gallegos isn’t afraid to challenge the current UO administration.
“I think it is important to have [us] work against administration sometimes,” Gallegos said. During the 2016-2017 school year, she witnessed ASUO president Quinn Haaga advocate for last year’s 10.6 percent tuition increase “because [President Schill] basically told her to.”
“It does a disservice [to students] because we’ve seen that [working with administration] doesn’t work. We’ve seen that president Schill will discount [students] for being friendly,” Gallegos said. “I kinda know where president Schill stands. … I’m not here to get a recommendation letter.”
Getting an early start
Gallegos has already started conversations about what to do better next year with current ASUO president Amy Schenk. Schenk’s main suggestion, one which Gallegos took into account before the elections, was to start early — Gallegos made plans to stay over the summer “just in case” she won. She anticipates that having the opportunity to stay in Eugene with other ASUO members will give next year’s slate a head start on their agenda.
“Since [this year’s ASUO administration] didn’t have the summer to work as much, I think that kinda delayed them setting forth their agenda until fall term,” Gallegos said. She hopes to be able to start work on fixing the stipend model, funding the food pantry and begin meeting and working with student groups over the summer. It’s also important for her to be present for student conduct code meetings and as a check on UO administration.
“The administration takes advantage of students being gone over summer break, over winter break. … historically some things will pass when no students are there to know about [it].” But Gallegos and her “core team” will be there.
Only 1,846 students voted in this year’s elections, but the decisions that ASUO administration makes affects every student at some level. Having a say in these decisions goes beyond voting — it is our responsibility as students to hold ASUO administration accountable for what they do and how it affects the university. Ducks Together emphasized taking back student power, and students are the only ones who can ensure that happens.
The 2018-2019 ASUO elected slate will take office on May 25.