Creating transparency between the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University and the average Red Raider is one of the top priorities for presidential candidate Torii Uyehara and her running mate Jane Silva. While some political leaders like Sal Esquivel, Kelly Townsend and others at the state and senate level have obtained degrees from Southern Oregon University, one would think of our campus as being politically active, but trends in the most recent years say otherwise.
Last Friday was the deadline for any entrants who wanted to run for President and Vice of ASSOU to declare their campaigns and by the end of the day only one ticket had been punched for the future of the university. Uyehara and Silva have been unopposed and will win their long campaign unless someone achieves the unlikely overthrow by write-in when the polls close this Friday.
Like many other small schools, Southern Oregon has had a problem with getting students on campus to care about politics.
Senior Dylan Bloom, is one of the many excited seniors who is ready to walk in the spring and begin his post collegiate career. The Ashland native who has been very involved in campus politics and issues, has begun stacking his resume in hopes of getting on a campaign team for a politician after he graduates. As a political science major and already an active participator in local campaigns, Bloom feels frustrated to see how few students are interested in campus issues. “It’s tough to get someone young to stick through all of the training and grooming.”
Bloom is involved as a ranking member of the Oregon Federation of College Republicans at the state level while Jordan Mortimore is the head of the Republican Club on campus. Both are set to graduate this Spring as well as a few of the other members who have been long standing within the SOU chapter. Now along with capstones and credits causing concern, the seniors are having a hard time finding replacements for their positions when they depart.
Though differing in political views, Uyehara and Bloom agree on how tough it is to even get students to vote. While the total votes cast last Spring were slightly higher than usual at around 750, this still means that only around 14% of students are going out to the polls.
Uyehara and Silva have been planning their run for awhile now and are in no way rookies to the game of votes. Both became interested in ASSOU when they were freshman and have only continued to grow in their political involvement. It seems fitting that during their final year, they will have reached the peak of political power on campus.
“Many people join ASSOU not realizing what a large commitment it actually is,” Torii admitted.
After years of being involved in ASSOU their main goal of this political run has been to poll students on what they want changed. Uyehara reiterated that she wants there to be transparency in ASSOU’s decisions. One of those decisions will be where the estimated 4.3 million dollars of student funds is spent. Every year about one-third of the budget goes to athletics, but the president elect would like to see some of the remaining funds help new clubs appear on campus.
“I definitely encourage students to form clubs if they are passionate about something,” she explains. “They should understand that that money is for them and how to use it.
While the two campaigners are soon to claim their titles, three senate positions have yet to be filled and with the vote closing on Friday, the student government might be running vacant for awhile until some students step up.