ASOSU begins transition process

Simon Brundage and Radhika Shah packing up and moving into their new office. The pair will officially begin their new positions as president and vice president on June 1.

Joe Wolf, News Contributor

Current administration already working to prepare replacements for year ahead.

ASOSU President-elect Simon Brundage and Vice President-elect Radhika Shah will spend their spring term preparing to assume their roles officially on June 1.

While the pair was only elected a little over a month ago, they are already meeting with the current president and vice president to learn about the positions the student body of Oregon State University have chosen them for, according to sitting ASOSU President Rachel Grisham.

Despite limited student government experience, the positions the newly-elected duo have held in organizations outside of ASOSU have prepared them for the challenges of the executive branch, according to Brundage. The incoming president has served in multiple roles on the College of Engineering Student Council, including vice president of development. He has also served as a legislative intern in the U.S. Senate, as vice president of the College Democrats on campus and as an ASOSU representative. 

According to Shah, her time as a committee member in the Student Sustainability Initiative, as a community relations facilitator for University Housing and Dining Services and as an officer in her sorority have given her the leadership skills necessary to govern nearly 30,000 students.

“Radhika and I complement each other really well in areas that one of us is not as familiar with, the other is certainly much more familiar with, so we do believe that we carry an effective range of experience that will make our administration a lot more effective in the long run,” Brundage said.

Grisham explained what she and current Vice President Brett M. Morgan have been doing to prepare their replacements for the year ahead.

“Brett and I are each meeting with Simon and Radhika individually based on position and so we’re talking a lot about specific individual responsibilities,” Grisham said. “The four of us will meet as well to talk about teamwork-oriented things, like bigger-picture things that we work on together.”

Grisham explained that Brundage and Shah will also be holding external meetings with administration, faculty, programs funded by student fees and various student leaders on campus (including with those of Orange Media Network, of which The Barometer is a part). Grisham went on to explain that she and Morgan are also developing a written guide for the president and vice president-elect.

“It’s basically a book,” Grisham said. “That will capture everything we talk about in person and other things as well.”

Grisham explained one of her foci in both the in-person meetings and the written guide is giving Brundage and Shah the necessary context about ASOSU operations.

“Rather than having them spend time doing all that work over the summer, compiling everything that we’ve done this year and that we know has been happening,” Grisham said. “(They can) pick up and take what ASOSU is and what our campus is right now, and go in whatever direction they see fit.”

Brundage echoed Grisham’s description of the process and highlighted specific goals such as making the Student Incidental Fees Committee process more transparent and efficient, as well as making the ASOSU website a better resource for students.

“I really want to work on the relationship between ASOSU and DCE (Diversity and Cultural Engagement),” Shah added. “While it’s a very complex issue, so it’s definitely going to take time and dedication and listening to people, that’s something I definitely want to see happening.”

Brundage added he wants to ensure students hold himself and Shah accountable.

“One of the main reasons we wanted our platform to be as comprehensive as it was, was so that students in the future can hold us accountable to the promises that we make,” Brundage said. 

In the fiscal responsibility plank of their platform, ‘A New OSU,’ the pair committed to focusing on preventing tuition hikes as well as reforming the SIFC budget approval process. The SIFC determines the budgets for all student fee-funded programs on campus, including Athletics, Student Health Services and ASOSU itself.

Brundage reiterated his focus on finances, and explained the current SIFC process.

“The budgets come from the individual budgeting boards and they go to the (ASOSU) House to be approved and if the House doesn’t approve the budget then it goes back to mediation,” Brundage said. “But once it goes to mediation, that budget doesn’t come back to the House, and often right now when the budget goes to mediation, it’s too late to make any changes in that budget.”

The mediation committee is made up of six representatives from the ASOSU House as well as six from the SIFC. Those representing the program being debated attend the mediation session to make their case for the funding level they have requested. 

Brundage went on to discuss the reforms he would like to implement next year.

“Mediation in that way is much more of a symbolic notion than anything else, so something we mentioned in our platform was reconsidering the chronology of the process, moving budgeting earlier on in the year and training ASOSU House representatives to be more proficient in budgeting,” Brundage said.

Shah identified the concern that students not affiliated with the budgeting process do not know how to make their voices heard at the public SIFC meetings.

“While it was open to the public, a lot of people didn’t know about it,” Shah said.

While the future president and vice president of ASOSU both have clear priorities for their time in office, Grisham offered her advice to the two.

“I think the best model of leadership in this role is servant leadership,” Grisham said. “My role here is to serve every student that’s on this campus to the best of my abilities, which isn’t always perfect, but it is my job.”

“There’s a lot of perks that come with the job, but the most important thing is: if you get too wrapped up in that, you won’t get anything done that you want to, and you will lose yourself in that process,” Grisham added. 

Brundage offered his thoughts on what else he has learned throughout the transition process up to this point.

“There have been a lot of surprises, I’ll tell you that,” Brundage said. “I just always assumed that they (the ASOSU president and vice president) had a much more hands-on role, but realistically the strength of having a large cabinet is that you’re able to delegate those responsibilities out to your executive directors, and then they take on much more of a leadership role in those projects.”

Both the future president and vice president were insistent that as many students as possible, from a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints, should apply for the available executive cabinet positions by Wednesday, April 19, according to Brundage and Shah. Applications and more detail about the open positions are available on the ASOSU website.

“One of the things our campaign really wanted to emphasize was unity after the election,” Brundage said. “From whatever student group you’re a part of, your voices are going to be factored into our administration.”

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