UPDATE: Josh Kaufman confirmed as new ASOSU vice president

Josh Kaufman now serves as the vice president of ASOSU, following previous Vice President Radhika Shah’s resignation.

Joe Wolf, Engagement Editor

Previous VP Radhika Shah resigns, citing lack of support, implicit bias

Josh Kaufman was unanimously confirmed as the new Vice President of the Associated Students of Oregon State University.

The ASOSU Senate voted on Tuesday, Feb. 27 to approve Kaufman, who currently serves as the student government’s Judicial Council Chair, after former Vice President Radhika Shah resigned from her position two weeks ago. Kaufman will take on the responsibilities of vice president for the rest of this academic year, serving as president of the Senate in the legislative branch and assisting ASOSU President Simon Brundage in overseeing the executive branch.

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Kaufman, who formerly served as speaker of the House, a senator and the executive director of finance in ASOSU, said he had not previously considered serving as the vice president.

“It is a great honor and a position I will really enjoy working in,” Kaufman said.

Before the Senate approved Kaufman, he was nominated by Brundage to fill the vacancy left by Shah. Brundage explained he selected Kaufman because he has a great deal of institutional knowledge, meaning the new vice president can begin work immediately.

“I had to select someone I knew I could trust to run a government with,” Brundage said.

Shah said she vacated her position because her physical and mental health were being negatively impacted, and she felt she needed to put herself first.

“I have made too many sacrifices to this organization,” Shah said. “I am paying upwards of $30,000 a year to be here at OSU and my education was suffering.”

Another reason for her resignation Shah highlighted was the implicit bias other members of the organization showed against her as a woman of color. Shah also felt that she was taking on responsibilities beyond her position, but after voicing her concerns, there was never a solution.

“Even if these biases did not exist, I think I still would have been underappreciated and overworked,” Shah said.

Shah said she had felt unsupported in the organization since October of last year, noting that Brundage attempted to ease her workload to encourage her to stay. However, she felt that doing the bare minimum would be akin to stealing the student fees that pay the vice president’s salary.

“Me leaving will allow someone else to step in and deliver what students deserve on this campus,” Shah said.

According to Brundage, Shah had made clear to him and the rest of the staff over the course of the year that she felt underappreciated.

“I know that there was always more that I could have done to make her feel more welcome,” Brundage said. “I was not expecting a resignation, but when it came, I think she made the decision that was in her best interest and the best interest of the organization.”

Kaufman echoed Brundage, noting that Shah’s resignation is the first time in recent memory an ASOSU official in a position as high as the vice presidency has stepped down before the end of the year. He commended his predecessor for her hard work, especially remaining in the position until after the election process was complete.

“I was aware she was not happy in her position, but I was not expecting her to resign,” Kaufman said. “I consider her a friend and myself somewhat of a mentor to her, and while I am excited for the new position, I am very sad to see her leave.”

In the executive branch, Kaufman’s first action as the new vice president will be to meet with all Cabinet members to find out what projects they are currently working on.

“I only have 12 academic weeks at this point,” Kaufman said. “I want to gain their trust so hopefully starting day one of next term I can help them accomplish their goals.”

Going into the confirmation hearing, Kaufman said he was unsure what the outcome was going to be, but had positive inclinations from some members of the Senate.

According to Senate President Pro Tempore Katarina Rodak, the body came prepared with questions to learn more about Kaufman and hear how he could assist with their ongoing work to reform the organization’s statutes.

“He is honestly the most experienced person within ASOSU who is still a student,” Rodak said. “I think he is a great asset to add to both the executive branch and here in the legislative branch.”

While the Brundage-Kaufman administration’s successors, Justin Bennett and Aiden Tariku, were recently elected for next year, Kaufman noted that the lame duck session is more productive than other terms. He explained members are more accustomed to their positions and major agenda items such as student fee levels and elections have already been finalized.

“Every spring term I have been in this organization there is a big push for reform,” Kaufman said. “Last year we passed a Student Bill of Rights and Student Fee Committee changes. In some ways it appears I am out of time, but I think I am coming it at the point where things are really starting to happen.”