Andrew Oswalt running in ASOSU special election

General ASOSU Graphic

Joe Wolf, Engagement Editor

The Associated Students of Oregon State University will hold a special election to choose students to serve on the Student Fee Committee and vote on a proposed constitutional rewrite, once the student government receives lists of eligible student voters.

Andrew Oswalt, a former ASOSU graduate representative known for expressing white nationalist views, appeared on the ballot for a seat on the SFC. Oswalt, one of seven students running to serve on the SFC, used his candidate biography to include links to information regarding intelligence differences between races and anti-Semitic material.

The student government, which held a vote to remove Oswalt from his position in Congress last term, has no power to disqualify a student from running for office in the future. ASOSU also has no authority to police how a candidate chooses to present themselves on the ballot, said ASOSU Vice President and Chief Elections Officer Josh Kaufman.

“Because we have no predetermined rules for what could be included in the candidate biography, we felt that we cannot and should not change the rules retroactively to exclude one candidate,” Kaufman said. “We also want to be clear that every candidate has the same opportunity to write their personal platform statement, but those do not reflect ASOSU, the Elections Committee or OSU as a whole.”

Kaufman explained the committee was concerned that treating Oswalt any differently than another candidate would set a dangerous precedent for excluding students from seeking election based on their beliefs.

“I will personally say that I find Mr. Oswalt’s views reprehensible and every other member of the Elections Committee does as well, but we are not in the business of censoring what candidates say,” Kaufman said. “As someone who personally holds an identity that Mr. Oswalt mentioned in his candidate statement and biography, I understand the harm that this can cause, but ultimately it is a decision that the Elections Committee had to make and did not take lightly.”

The SFC recommends how to spend over $35 million of student fees each year, proposing fee levels for programs including Diversity and Cultural Engagement, student tickets for athletic events and ASOSU itself.

In addition to the open SFC seats, students will have the opportunity to vote on a rewrite to the ASOSU constitution. Under the proposed new constitution, any student at OSU not represented by another student government, such as the Associated Students of Cascades Campus, will be represented by ASOSU. These include Ecampus students, students taking classes at Hatfield or students who have their fees waived. Currently, the definition charges the student government with representing every OSU student.

“We are dealing with a reality that there are multiple campuses now and those campuses are at varying levels of development,” Kaufman said. “We want every OSU student to be represented by someone, regardless of what their situation is.”

The special election ballot, which will be sent as a link to students’ ONID email accounts, was intended to open on Monday. However, because the two issues being voted on have different lists of eligible voters, obtaining complete voter rolls was more time-consuming than expected, Kaufman said.

“Because of the complicated nature of our request from the Office of the Registrar, we were not able to get that information on time,” Kaufman said. “At this point everything is ready to go so once we have those lists we can open the ballot.”

The Barometer will continue to update this story as it develops.

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