Photo by ASSOU
With the start of the new school year underway and classes resuming, many students feel lost or uncertain about where these unique challenges will take them. Luckily, SOU students are represented by the Associated Students of Southern Oregon University (ASSOU). The Siskiyou spoke with a few of its newly elected members about how they will help the student body and offered words of advice in unprecedented times.
The Siskiyou spoke with Michael Surgeon, ASSOU’s Accessibility Senator. When asked about their plans in their new position, Surgeon replied, “I plan to challenge ableism and fat-phobia on campus [and] ensure that all students with disabilities are given proper support and accommodations.” Surgeon also hopes to educate others about everything the Disability Resource Center can offer to the students. Finally, Surgeon wants students to know that they are always available to listen to what their fellow students need.
When asked how being completely remote this term will affect ASSOU and students in general, each officer the Siskiyou spoke with offered advice and comfort to the student body of SOU. “Reaching out to students and having students respond or engage with us will be more difficult,” Michael Surgeon said, “but I am open and willing to accept the challenge!”
Another new senator the Siskiyou spoke with was Rachael Baker, the Campus Life and Housing senator. “I would like to extend my advocacy for residents further than just within Housing, and I want to make positive changes campus-wide,” she said. Advocating for the fair treatment of student-staff workers, both within Housing and on the main campus, is her biggest goal as a senator.
Rachel Baker is still living on campus, and knows that “representing [her] constituents is more important now than ever.”
Violet Crain, whose roles include Gender Equity and Sexual Diversity Senator and Vice Speaker of the House shared that, “My biggest goal is to unite the SOU campus as a whole.” Crain continued, “I want to make sure all voices are heard, and I’m ready to give our POC and queer students the extra attention they need to achieve that.” Crain plans to attend events held by the student body and encourage conversation and achieve growth in SOU’s student populous.
Diana Ramos Alonzo also spoke with the Siskiyou on her plans as ASSOU’s Multicultural Senator. “My ultimate goal is to educate people and bring cultural awareness to campus…I want there to be a much stronger and positive relationship between our administration and our minority students.” In the end, Ramos Alonzo wishes to make the campus safe so that everyone in the student body can have uncomfortable and brave conversations.
Finally, the Siskiyou spoke with Sarah Grulikowski, ASSOU’s new president, on her plans for the new school year, as well as words of encouragement to students. “As ASSOU President, I hope to serve the student body well,” she said, “I want to transform student government to be a more accessible and inclusive space for everyone to get involved about issues they care about.” Grulikowski’s biggest goal is connection, whether that is connecting students to resources they need, programs they might benefit from, or even people that can help them on their journey.
The first step in Grulikowski’s plan for this, is making sure students feel safe on campus, not just physically but emotionally. “I am acutely aware that there are students on this campus who do not enjoy the basic human right of safety and respect,” she said, “I want to learn and live in ways that empower all people to be themselves on campus and in our community.” Community is also critical to her and Grulikowski hopes to build positive relationships with those both inside and outside the SOU environment. “I want to be a welcoming and positive force for all students as a part of our campus community…To my fellow SOU Students, please reach out and let me know how I can support you.”
Violet Crain said that even though ASSOU and the rest of the SOU community has faced setbacks regarding COVID-19, the organization has been able to adapt to remote meetings in ever-changing times. She even said that they have been introducing new practices that haven’t been done before. “We recently held our training online during a zoom call, and this allowed us to introduce ourselves to the current administration and ask them any questions we may have had, something that hasn’t always happened in the past.”
“Although meeting virtually is not the same as in-person, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to have informal meetings to get to know all ASSOU staff…it has been amazing to hear their ideas for this school year,” Ramos Alonzo said. Even though she was looking forward to participating in on-campus events and getting to know the student body more, she is excited to explore virtual events that will happen this term.
“ASSOU is looking forward to finding new ways to connect with students and campus partners during this period of remote delivery,” Sarah Grulikowski said, “We are fortunate to benefit from the continued presence of dedicated, innovative student leaders and advisors who greatly value the student experience on campus.” As ASSOU’s president, she has asked ASSOU to meet completely remote throughout this term to ensure the health and safety of SOU’s student population. “I remain confident that through positive relationship building and teamwork, we will have a successful and engaging year,” she stated.
Even in the middle of a pandemic, the officers at ASSOU are dedicated to helping the student body. Sarah Grulikowski, ASSOU president, can be reached at email@example.com. Michael Surgeon, ASSOU’s Accessibility Senator, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Violet Crain, Gender Equity and Sexual Diversity Senator and Vice Speaker of the House, can be reached at email@example.com. Diana Ramos Alonzo, Multicultural Senator can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Rachel Baker, Campus Life and Housing Senator, can be reached at email@example.com. The rest of the ASSOU officers and senators can be found here and here.