My name is Mario Parker-Milligan, I am the current two-term, student body president at Lane Community College@@, former Oregon Student Association Board Chair@@ and student commissioner on the Oregon Student Access Commission@@, and today I am officially endorsing ASUO Vice President Katie Taylor and Alex Sylvester@@ for the ASUO Executive.

Although I am not yet a student at the University, I do understand and continue to appreciate the undeniable importance of electing leadership that is a real advocate for access and affordability to higher education. As a student body president I have seen what power and influence an office such as mine is able to wield, as well as the incredible scrutiny and stress it can bring. Having worked with three previous ASUO Executive administrations I also can appreciate the level of professionalism and passion it takes to utilize that same power and influence appropriately.

I write to you, the students, the voters, because this year there is undoubtedly more at stake than in recent history and if students don’t turn out to vote then the right people, the people who are capable of running the ASUO and funding the programs and services that many of you and your friends utilize, won’t be elected. Subsequently those services and programs and autonomy will be at a greater risk.

I first met Katie while she was a fresh-faced senator at Lane Community College, where she was first introduced to “social justice” organizing. Then, our relationship was merely social. As a student rooted and developed in the unions at LCC I heavily valued Katie’s strong push for having a fully student-led, student-directed student government. She was adamant about not allowing administration or advisers to influence the student senate during business meetings, which was often the case and had led to policy decisions that were often not student-centric.

However, over the past year Katie and I have worked more closely than ever on issues such as textbook affordability, student loan debt, Federal Pell Grants@@ and the DREAM Act@@ As a nontraditional student who has gone through a community college, Katie has been a positive role model and an example for what community college students are capable of accomplishing.

As a two-year president, I know that what matters most in a president is a commitment to advocating for affordability, listening to and including all students and having real solutions to help students and the community. Katie exemplifies these values and her work as vice president proves her commitment to the student voice: from demanding that students vote on the EMU/SRC fee to supporting the UO Truth Coalition@@, to her advocacy work in Salem for cheaper textbooks, increased financial aid and increased funding for the University. Katie is a leader that truly leads by example and is not afraid to move back and follow when needed. Organizing is a fundamental tool that every president must have and be able and willing to utilize in every part of their job and Katie is unmatched in her skills and abilities to effectively mobilize students around core issues.

As president, Katie plans to make student life better by making campus safer, by keeping guns and tasers off campus and by expanding Designated Driver Shuttle and Safe Ride; by negotiating to secure both a lower fee for the EMU/SRC renovation and negotiating to secure more football tickets for students, and by protecting survivors of sexual assault by reinstating the Anonymous Reporting forms.@@This sentence made my brain explode Katie is the only progressive candidate working on the real issues for students. Her experience on campus has shown her commitment to involving students in the ASUO and to advocating for students’ rights.

Not only is Katie the strongest ally on the ballot for nontraditional and working class students but for students of color and LGBTQ students alike. She stands in solidarity with us and I applaud her ability to articulate all of our issues as if they were her own. Katie and I both believe that education is a right for everyone regardless of class, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, documentation status and ability, something that other candidates will say but will refuse to take necessary action for.

Katie Taylor is the only progressive choice for president and I believe her values and actions thus far are testament to her continued ability to activate her peers to do better by themselves and their university. I invite you and your friends to join me in supporting my friends Katie and Alex: Your School, Your Voice.

Mario Parker-Milligan

President, Associated Students of Lane Community College

Please consider donating to the Emerald. We are an independent non-profit dedicated to supporting and educating this generation's best journalists. Your donation helps pay equipment costs, travel, payroll, and more!