Presidential candidates Kerner, Paola lead ASOSU elections for 2022-23 academic year

ASOSU Presidential candidate Matteo Paola stands in front of Weatherford Hall on Jan. 21. Paola and his running mate, Sierra Young, want to change the ASOSU constitution and ensure that student fees are distributed to student services.

Sam Misa, News Contributor

Update: This story has been changed to reflect a new presidential team that joined the ASOSU presidential race after this story was published. A full story on the new presidential team is coming soon.

The Associated Students of Oregon State University elections for the 2022-23 academic year include 39 open positions in the presidency, House of Representatives, Student Fee Committee and Senate. 

The campaign registration period for ASOSU elections began on Jan. 12 and the deadline is Feb. 8. 

As of Feb. 4, only two people were running for ASOSU president, Matteo Paola and Alexander Kerner, though more candidates may join the race before registration closes. On Feb. 14, Calvin Anderman joined the presidential race alongside Kerner and Paola. Anderman will be running alongside vice-presidential candidate Braeden Howard. 

Paola and his running partner Sierra Young, who is campaigning for vice president, are both ASOSU veterans. Currently, Paola is a representative in the House and Young is in her second year as senator. 

“I believe that my two years experience as a Senator, my year of chairing the student government committee, as well as my leadership experience in other groups since my time in high school student government qualify me for the vice president position at ASOSU,” Young said.

 Paola said he decided to run for ASOSU president because he noticed a disconnect between the ASOSU student government and the OSU student body.

“Most people I ask, when I ask them about ASOSU-related things, they either don’t know what it is, or they think that it doesn’t do anything,” Paola said. 

However, according to Paola, the student government controls over $26 million in student fees which is distributed to many student services across campus.

“That money can be used for a lot of good,” Paola said. “Like this year, it was used to create a $15 minimum wage for student-funded employees, which is about one-fourth of student workers at OSU.”

Besides wanting to see OSU students more involved in student government, Paola said one of the issues he wants to focus on is changing the ASOSU constitution.

“With less student representatives, elections will become more competitive,” Paola said. “So representatives will have to actually appeal to the student body and have to represent their interests, as opposed to our current system where no matter what your thoughts are, you can usually just run even if the student body doesn’t like you, you’ll probably still be elected because you’re usually on a post.”

If elected ASOSU president, Paola said his other priorities include crafting more specific and attainable carbon emission goals and extending the current administration’s work on guaranteeing a living wage for all student employees by expanding which OSU jobs are paid a $15 minimum wage.

Kerner, who has been in the House of Representatives for two years, said he believes changes need to be made to the constitution to simplify the legislative branch, although he and his running mate, Isabella Griffiths, want to see other changes as well.

“I’d like to go for a unicameral system,” Kerner said. “So basically there’s only one House of Congress. That would really increase ASOSU’s efficiency and also lower student fees just a little bit because you admittedly just take the Senate and the House and put them together, and then you cut out some jobs.”

Additionally, Kerner said he wants to make the constitution easier to amend by changing the number of student votes that are required to amend it.

“As it stands, ASOSU needs 15% of students to change [the constitution],” Kerner said. “The thing is, only like 12% of students come out to vote. So we’re stuck in this gridlock where we can’t do anything.”

Kerner said he wants to prioritize unemployment issues on the OSU campus.

“There is massive unemployment here,” Kerner said. “It’s more willing than unwilling, but a lot of the services here are cut short because of low employee numbers. Right now, we have our Survivor Advocacy and Resource Center. They only have two employees right now.”

According to Kerner, Counseling and Psychological Services also suffers from unemployment, and wait times for appointments are two to four months long.

Griffiths said she and Kerner also want to reopen the OSU Pharmacy, which has been closed since June of 2020, so students don’t have to visit less-accessible places to get their prescriptions.

Dylan Perfect, the current ASOSU vice president, said he also believes the OSU student body and ASOSU should be more connected.

Students can vote for ASOSU candidates between Feb. 14 at 9 a.m. and March 4 at 5 p.m. 

“There are some significant opportunities to make student governance more integrated with the university experience,” Perfect said. “The more students we have engaging in these processes, the more representative our model of shared governance becomes.”