New ASSOU officers hope for smooth year

The newly elected officers of the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University were officially sworn in May 10, bringing an end to a very turbulent year for student government.

“I came in here years ago to help students,” said Katherine Gohring, newly elected Computer Science and Mathematics Senator. “And I believe we can still do that. We still need to push forward, despite all the nastiness of last year. We need to come together and make this next year amazing.”

A total of 23 students ran for the 17 available Senate positions, and candidates Hassan Harris and Amanda Stucke ran unopposed for ASSOU President and Vice President, respectively.

Although some of the recently elected senators are new to ASSOU, many have been involved in student government before, and are intimately familiar with the internal conflicts that characterized the previous administration.

“We clashed heads a lot this year,” said former ASSOU President Stephen Land in his farewell address. “Especially in the beginning, and we went through a lot of impeachment and censure processes because of it.”According to Land, in the past year there have been 13 resignations from Senate, two resignations from the Judicial Branch, and 3 resignations from the Executive Branch; a turnover rate many in student government have attributed to personal vendettas and lack of communication between government branches.

“Every person left for a different reason,” said Kirby Rider, former Speaker of the Senate and newly elected Non-Traditional and Military Affairs Senator. “Some people couldn’t handle the stress of school and government. Some people left for personal reasons, others went on exchange programs.”

“I believe that a lot of conflict that happened this year has happened in the past, but that it was handled internally because there wasn’t a judicial branch,” he said. “Because we’ve added a judicial branch, things are much more external than before…it’s become more apparent this year.”

Despite the internal strife of last year, ASSOU has accomplished many things this year, including campaigning for tuition equity and the funding of higher education, the passage of a bill that will ban bottled water on campus, and research into a campus blood drive and solar panels on the roof of the Stevenson Union.Hassan Harris, the newly elected ASSOU president, remains optimistic about next year’s student government, and plans on building on the successes of Land’s administration.

“Amanda and I ran because we thought we could serve students and help ASSOU become a more cohesive group, and create a new culture in ASSOU, a culture of inclusion with the student body,” he said. “I think we have to do more with the student body. People are looking at ASSOU and all they’re seeing is a lot of disorganization.”

“What we really want is a positive outlook, inclusion, and a better campus community,” he said. “I think that the new Senate is taking good steps towards a better ASSOU. They know what they want to do as senators. It’s all about inspiration. Anything is possible.”

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