ASOC student representatives share their goals for the semester

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A poster at the Johnson Student Center exhorts students to vote in ASOC election at Occidental College in Los Angeles Feb. 16, 2018. Margaret Su/The Occidental

Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) Elections Chair Junko Anderson (senior) announced the results of the Fall 2020 election via campus-wide email Sept. 18, with 341 total votes cast. There were seven positions filled, including vice president of external affairs, vice president of policies, two first-year senators and two Honor Board jurors. According to ASOC President Kitty Lu (senior), while ASOC is primarily operating online given remote instruction, they are also working to improve physical spaces on campus, such as the Johnson Student Center (JSC), the new Obama Lounge and the MLK Lounge in Pauley Hall.

“Right now, we’re really taking advantage of the fact that no one’s on campus and trying to use the student fees to improve student spaces so that when we come back, we can have more spaces to have meetings or events because there’s limited numbers [of spaces],” Lu said. “MLK Lounge is one of the spaces that we’re really working towards making better. It’s one of the only spaces that exists for affinity groups so having that space improved is crucial.”

Jason Park (junior) was elected to be an Honor Board juror alongside Candy Wu (first year), and said that while ASOC meetings will be held on Zoom instead of in the JSC, the goals of the organization remain the same.

“It might be in a different technical format, but I think the fundamental desires and values of student representatives such as myself to serve the student body has not changed and so being on Zoom, being on these on these virtual call environments and platforms, is merely a different platform of facilitating this, but the work and the substance remains the same,” Park said.

Park said he wanted to run for the position because of his previous experience working in public service. Park said he was also appointed as Honor Board’s liaison to Diversity and Equity Board (DEB) in order to better facilitate inter-branch communication.

“I think it’s important for all the activities of each branch to not be siloed — for us to collaborate and cooperate with one another in order to effect real and positive change for the student body,” Park said.

Wu said she ran for Honor Board in order to deepen her understanding of the law, a subject she hopes to pursue in her first year at Occidental.

“I think I’m excited to learn from my peers and to explore deeper into the world of law because I feel like I’ve learned a few things from my past experiences, but I kind of wanted to see how it works differently in a different setting in college,” Wu said.

Angela Chen (first year) was elected vice president of external affairs. Chen said her primary goal as a member of ASOC Senate is keeping the campus updated on all things ASOC during remote learning.

“I’m very interested in connecting with different people and as a freshman, since we’re in quarantine, and because of COVID-19, I haven’t had many opportunities to connect with my peers and with upperclassmen,” Chen said. “So I just thought this was a really great opportunity and I like to give back to my school and community because it’s like my second home.”

Ellie Findell* (sophomore), was elected Vice President of Policies. Findell said this position involves keeping the constitution and ASOC bylaws up to date and potentially introducing new amendments, and that one of her goals is to keep people informed about other aspects of the college.

“I really wanted to demystify for myself and for other people what is going on with the administration and how administration can really be a better support to students and foster a better relationship,” Findell said.

Lu said the vice president of policies is also supposed to promote inter-branch communication.

“Their role is to facilitate the implementation of the new amendment, as well as making sure that senate bylaws adhere to how that system is going to work,” Lu said.

While representatives for sophomores, juniors and seniors are decided in the spring, first-year senators are elected at the beginning of the fall semester. Mali Abel (first year) and Hannah Christensen (first year) were elected to represent their class. According to Abel, she ran for the position in order to foster more inclusion on campus and in ASOC.

“I know how Black students feel like they aren’t being heard enough and I want to make sure that they are heard and the same with LGBTQ students,” Abel said. “I guess, it’s just trying to make sure everyone feels like they have a voice, but also, realizing that some minorities have it harder, and they might not get the representation that comes so easily for everybody else.”

According to Christensen, she wants to connect with the student body.

“I think Oxy is a phenomenal place and I really want to help contribute to that as much as possible and make it even better,” Christensen said. “I am an athlete. I am an academic. I am a music kid. So chances are with any given person, I can relate to them in some way, and I can represent them in some way.”

While the first-year senators haven’t yet come to campus and experienced ASOC in person, Lu said their fresh perspective is important.

“For me, it’s really advantageous to have first years,” Lu said. “They’re new, and they also bring in a fresh perspective. Once you’ve been at Oxy for a while you’re just so used to how things are and then these first years come in and go, ‘Why do you do this like this?’ and you’re like, ‘Yeah why do we do it like that?’”

*Ellie Findell was previously a staff writer for The Occidental.