ASOSU elections see only minor changes in virtual format

(Left to right) The ASOSU vice president Metzin Rodriguez and President Isabel Nunez Perez as well as the ASOSU election committee (Chase Pettibone, Dari Edwards, Julia Cleric, Michaela Canete and Zachary Garrow) say that this ASOSU election feels more cut-off from OSU students due to the pandemic. Virtual platforms are the best option to reach students, but the lack of interaction and information can be difficult.

Kelsy Valentine, News Contributor

This year, the Associated Students of Oregon State University elections looked different in the form of virtual meetings and campaigning, but voting stayed in a similar format.

Similar to previous years, the ASOSU elections for the academic year still took place. Although these elections as well as the campaigning involved with them would normally be done in person, ASOSU has now needed to shift their election process online due to the continually-increasing COVID-19 cases.

“The only real difference in the election process is that… to get registered, you have to go to an information session,” Chase Pettibone, ASOSU speaker of the house, said. “You have to know what you’re running for. The difference this year is that all of them are held virtually.”

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Pettibone also said campaigning was different this year as the candidates were unable to do in-person campaigning such as hanging posters up in the Memorial Union.

Metzin Rodriguez, ASOSU vice president, said that in-person campaigning usually includes meeting with many people and doing a lot of advertising.

“For the elections, ASOSU is Associated Students of Oregon State University so in a sense, you represent the student body. In order for you to get the votes from the student body,

you need the students to know about yourself,” Rodriguez said. “So… you can go talk with different clubs or organizations. You can go to the society of engineers or some of the fraternities or sororities, or different clubs around campus, or culture ones. You can also go out around campus and put out different flyers [for] marketing or go to different events so people can know your name.”

This process looked different since students needed to do their campaign- ing virtually rather than in person, but Rodriguez said the candidates still had the opportunity to meet with clubs and organizations over Zoom.

This lack of in-person campaign– ing mostly just meant the candidates instead needed to use other resources—such as Zoom meetings or social media—to advertise their platforms. They would need to get creative with the resources they had been given to ensure their name is known.

“We were hoping that candidates would get creative with the marketing for their campaign due to the pandemic not allowing in-person activities,” Dari Edwards, director of Public Affairs and Marketing Communications, said via email.

The current ASOSU elections com- mittee still received a similar number of candidates this year as opposed to previous elections.

“For some positions, I think [COVID- 19] has had an impact,” Rodriguez said. “For certain positions this year, we have slightly more people but for other bigger positions, we may not have as many candidates.”

Rodriguez said their attendance at their information sessions was about the same that it’s always been, though they were concerned about these people submitting their candidacy forms.

Pettibone also expressed concerns about the reach that ASOSU has had in recent years due to the relatively low number of students who run for certain positions.

“We’ve had good attendance, but I don’t know if we’ve had the reach that I would want, personally,” Pettibone said. “It’s pretty similar, so far, to what I felt like in past years, but past years haven’t necessarily been up to the same level that I want.”

The pandemic, though, was not expected to significantly impact candidacy or engagement amongst those who were already interested in running for positions.

Additionally, the student body side of the elections did not look any different, despite the need to shift to a virtual format due to the pandemic. ASOSU normally sends out emails to the student body with a link to vote in the elections, and this was the same this year.

“The elections process will be mostly the same on the student’s end, we want it to be as similar as possible to previous years,” Edwards said, “but we still want to get as much engagement from the student body as we can–especially in voting for the elections!”