Ayla Bussel, Leif Larsen: Beavers together

Delaney Shea, News Editor

Candidates Ayla Bussel and Leif Larsen, running for Associated Students of Oregon State University president and vice president respectively under the slogan “Beavers Together,” have a platform based on four main pillars, with a heavy focus on diversity and inclusion.

Besides diversity and inclusion, their remaining three pillars are mental health awareness and advocacy, communication and visibility and environmental sustainability and awareness. 

Their first year at OSU, Bussel and Larsen recall joking to each other that they should run for president and vice president. In November 2018, the pair of third-years began making plans in earnest.

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Their time in leadership positions in other campus groups, they say, has made them aware of systemic problems. Bussel said hearing about a friend’s experience in a class discussion on immigration where opinions were expressed that, in their opinion, crossed the line into inhumane, motivated her and Larsen to focus on diversity. 

Bussel and Larsen hope to create and implement trainings for professors to ensure no student leaves a classroom feeling unwelcome  because of their identity. The duo believes OSU and ASOSU are facing a critical point regarding diversity, with recent mediations for Athletics and Diversity and Cultural Engagement, and ASOSU must live up to the emphasis it puts on diversity.

“Are we going to fund the services at centers that need to be funded, or are we going to turn our backs on them?” Bussel said. “For me and Leif, if we take office, we’re not making an empty promise when we say that we support diversity and inclusion, what we mean by that is we want to knock on the doors of the cultural centers.”

Bussel said a main facet of their campaign is the fact that they do not want to speak for identities they do not hold, but instead bring people from all communities into their conversations. They want to be facilitators, meeting with every student group. 

“We want to say, how can we bring you to the table?” Larsen said. “How can we make decisions together?”

Their mental health awareness pillar aims to make sure students on campus feel safe, and includes initiatives such as revamping AlcoholEdu and having a focus on sexual assault survivor advocacy. 

Their second pillar, communication and visibility, reflects their desire to make students aware of ASOSU’s services and get them involved. 

The pair say they’d implement “Mocha Mondays,” tabling in the Student Experience Center Plaza on the first Monday of each month, handing out coffee and having conversations about campus issues and how ASOSU can be more useful to students. 

The final pillar of their platform is environmental sustainability, motivated by OSU’s slow progress toward its goal of being carbon neutral by 2020. Bussel and Larsen aim to work with the environmental council, Waste Watchers and campus recycling to expand initiatives across campus and get OSU back on track.