ASUO executives shuffle their cabinet, add positions dedicated to students of color

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

This year’s ASUO executive slate is shuffling its cabinet, adding positions dedicated to students of color and removing underutilized positions.

ASUO President Maria Alejandra Gallegos-Chacon, her two vice presidents and her chief of staff created five new positions, which include anti-racist, food insecurity, student code of conduct and tuition coordinators, as well as a staff supervising director. The cabinet advises members of the executive branch.

These new positions reflect their campaign goals: Increasing student engagement in tuition and the student code of conduct policies and amplifying the voices of students of color in campus-wide decisions.

“The idea behind those three was that we could have someone who would kind of be spearheading it,” Gallegos said of the anti-racist, student code of conduct and tuition coordinators. “We would obviously work with them, but we wanted someone who could be at all the meetings that we can’t be at.”

The team also cut or merged a handful of positions: The fraternity and sorority life (FSL) liaison and sustainability advocate were cut. The veteran student advocate is being absorbed into the non-traditional student advocate, and the international student advocate and multicultural affairs commissioner positions were merged into the anti-racist coordinator.

Some positions did not have enough tasks to justify stipended positions, according to the feedback that Chief of Staff Tan Perkins received from former ASUO officers, and other positions will take on their responsibilities.

Part of the idea behind the reshaping is also because Gallegos wishes to increase the stipend amount paid to ASUO officers from the current $150. She said a higher stipend would incentivize officers to invest more time into the position as well as attract applicants.

ASUO stipends are capped at $250 per officer, and ASUO finance committees must discuss changes to the stipend model before they can be implemented.

Hiring efforts for cabinet members began during the 2017 spring term, and Perkins expects to fill out the cabinet by the end of the 2018 fall term. Each cabinet position has had at least one applicant, and the executive team has filled around half of the 18 total cabinet positions.

The kinds of positions that the team has created have resulted in several candidates who are people of color applying to cabinet positions, according to Perkins, who uses they/them pronouns. This happens when “you run a campaign that focuses on queerness and POC politics” and is vocal about it, they said.

“We’re focusing on these issues because no one else is,” said Perkins when asked about the rationale behind adding positions dedicated to students of color. They added that people who are upset about their focus don’t understand how often UO fails people of color on a daily basis.

Each new presidential slate is allowed to reassemble its cabinet, and the number of cabinet members has ranged from eight to 20.

Certain positions have held out over the years, such as the finance director, and some are required by the Green Tape Notebook — the ASUO Constitution — such as the elections coordinator.

“I think it’s all trial and error,” Perkins said. “We’re just trying to make sure that we’re going to learn from them and do it as best as we can.

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