ASOSU inauguration brings old memories, new priorities

(Left) Rachel Grisham, 2016-17 ASOSU president, swears in Simon Brundage, 2017-18 president (right), during the inauguration.

Joe Wolf, News Contributor

President Simon Brundage, Vice President Radhika Shah, others sworn in

What began with farewells ended with a look toward the future, as over two dozen new members of the Associated Students of Oregon State University were sworn into office, including the president and vice president.

While the official end of the previous presidential administration’s term was June 1 at noon, the ceremonial transfer of power took place on June 2 in the Memorial Union Lounge. Beyond the 2017-18 president, vice president, speaker of the house and student fees chair, members of the ASOSU Cabinet, Senate, House of Representatives, Judicial Council and Student Fees Committee were sworn in by next year’s leadership team.

After speeches from outgoing President Rachel Grisham and Vice President Brett Morgan highlighting their biggest accomplishments in office—a restructured-shared governance agreement with the university administration, the articulation of a Student Bill of Rights and the expansion of the ASOSU Office of Advocacy—incoming President Simon Brundage and Vice President Radhika Shah promised to represent all students and work to make ASOSU as accessible as possible.

According to Brundage, a junior studying radiation health physics, the inauguration was an emotional experience for him.

“(I felt) exhilarated,” Brundage said. “Nervous, but at the same time and perhaps paradoxically, confident.”

Brundage’s vice president, Radhika Shah, is a second-year environmental sciences major entering her first role in student government. According to Shah, she had felt overwhelmed by all that was left to do in the transition, but the team she and Brundage have assembled gives her confidence for the future.

Despite their optimism for the year ahead, Oregon State and the state of Oregon’s budget deficits may prove to be challenges for the new administration, according to Brundage.

“You can say college affordability in your platform, but realistically college affordability is the same as being fiscally responsible, and so we’re going to have a fiscally responsible administration, but it’s going to have to be an incremental approach to resolving the issues of today,” Brundage said.

To better prepare the new president and vice president for the challenges ahead, the ASOSU elections were held in winter term instead of spring term as in years past.

“I’m very thankful for the transition that we had, Brett and Rachel were fantastic,” Brundage said. “We also got a lot of insight from Josh Kaufman, the speaker of the house, and it really turned into a very productive transition period and I feel like now that we’re in office, we’re going to have a very productive summer and hopefully be able to get a lot of things on the agenda.”

Kaufman, along with Grisham and Morgan, ended his time in office at the June 2 inauguration. As Peter Halajian, an agricultural sciences major, takes over as speaker of the house, Kaufman will join the ASOSU Judicial Council for next year.

“It’s hard to walk away from that, but it’s also nice to regain a certain degree of freedom, and to know that I’m a stronger person for having gone through the experience,” Kaufman said in an email. “I hope that any student reading this will consider getting involved in ASOSU. It’s an organization that has changed my life for the better.”

For students looking to get involved within student government next year, during their campaign and in their speeches at the inauguration, Brundage and Shah highlighted transparency and accessibility as important themes for their administration.

“I think while information is out in the open, students don’t necessarily know where to look or there’s an oversaturation of information, and so we want to work on updating the website this summer,” Shah said. “Within the office our chief of staff is going to do a great job making sure that our atmosphere with everyone is inclusive.”

With their variety of goals and campaign promises, having an effective, productive and scandal-free term in office is the legacy the pair wants to leave, according to Brundage.

“I wrote a bill to improve the strictness of Congressional attendance regulation, so now they have more incentive to be there, basically,” Brundage said. “So now, hopefully, we can increase legislative efficiency by ensuring that representatives and senators are there more often.”

According to former President Grisham, in her four years in ASOSU and her final year as the most visible member of the organization, she tried as much as possible to not assume what concerns and issues students wanted to see addressed.

“The most important thing to me this whole year has been serving students as authentically as we could, and not just assuming what people needed, but trying to remember to constantly check in with folks about what it is they are feeling and experiencing and needing, because when you get into a position like this you don’t live a normal student life anymore,” Grisham said.

The Grisham-Morgan ticket led as a team and the incoming pair intends to carry on this tradition, according to Shah.

“I 100 percent trust Simon, I 100 percent think that we balance each other out in every way possible and that we tell each other everything. We’re friends before we’re president and vice president, and I definitely see that continuing in our administration,” Shah said.