Student government 101

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Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) is funded by student fees and advocates for students within the larger institution of Occidental. ASOC is made up of four branches — Senate, Diversity and Equity Board (DEB), Honor Board and Renewable and Sustainability Fund (RESF) — which all follow the guidelines of the ASOC Constitution.

The student body of Occidental College voted Sept. 10 to elect new candidates to the ASOC Senate and Honor Board. The student body also voted in favor of a constitutional amendment and a revised ASOC fee structure.

The Constitution

The new constitutional amendment, which failed to pass in April 2021, creates an Executive Committee of representatives from each branch of ASOC to oversee and fund student services, whereas Senate previously oversaw these tasks. The new fee structure created a separate general student body fee to fund student services and clubs. There is a separate fee to fund Senate, DEB and RESF. Students will pay the same amount as before for these services.

Senate

ASOC Senate serves as a voice for the student body, allocates funds to various student organizations and serves as the main legislative body for all of ASOC, according to its mission statement.

ASOC President Ellie Findell (junior) said she is responsible for meeting with senior staff and administration members so she can advocate for students on an institutional level. Findell said she hopes to be a person students can come to when they need assistance.

“Our funds are your funds,” Findell said. “I want to help more students know about what ASOC can do for them because each student pays fees in order for us to operate.”

Finance Director Braedon Hatt (senior) said he is in charge of helping clubs get access to funding if it aligns with the ASOC mission statement.

“There are so many barriers [to getting funding] and it is hard to think about how to break them down,” Hatt said. “One of my goals this year is to simplify the process for every club who wants to go to ASOC for money.”

Sophia Guerrero Gonzalez (first year), ASOC senator, poses in front of the Marketplace at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Sept. 7, 2021. Sophia Stein/The Occidental

Sofía Guerrero Gonzalez (first year) was elected to ASOC Senate in this year’s election.

“One [of my goals] that I already started is to uplift BIPOC voices, and to make them comfortable,” Gonzalez said. “And also just to communicate, to strengthen the communication between staff and students.”

ASOC Senate meets 6:30 p.m. Thursdays in the Brown Learning Lab. Their meetings are open to all members of the Occidental community.

RESF

Members of Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fund (RESF) are appointed rather than elected by the student body. Kayla Heinze (senior),* president of RESF, said members of RESF are committed to supporting students in sustainability projects by providing them with the funding they need.

“Student government can be confusing, and people do not understand the structure,” Heinze said. “I think a lot of students do not know that there is a group of people working on sustainability constantly and that we have this huge budget dedicated to sustainability.”

Heinze said that student government can be confusing because many students do not know what meetings look like, but she still wants students with any sustainability ideas to reach out to RESF.

RESF meets 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the Johnson Student Center (JSC) Studenmund Room.

DEB

The mission of the Diversity and Equity Board (DEB) is to foster inclusivity and equity on campus and to empower and provide resources for marginalized groups.

This semester, Kenya Sterns (junior) will be the intercultural affairs liaison as well as an executive committee representative of DEB.

One of the demands of the five-day 2015 AGC Occupation was to create more representation of marginalized groups in ASOC and increase funding to DEB, Sterns said.

“One of the demands was more representation of marginalized groups in ASOC, just because the students felt like their needs were not being met.” Sterns said. “Our [DEB’s] purpose is really just to ensure that there are advocates for minorities and other groups in ASOC and directly dealing with admin as well. Marginalized groups do not have to fight admin on certain things, DEB can handle that for them.”

DEB meets 3-4:30 p.m. Thursdays in the JSC Studenmund Room.

Honor Board

Honor Board is ASOC’s judicial branch that voices student perspectives in cases that relate to Occidental’s Code of Conduct, Academic Ethics policy or the Honor Principle. The student body elects the ten jurors on Honor Board.

Henry Kinskey (first year), an Honor Board juror, poses in the courtyard outside of the Marketplace at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Sept. 6, 2021. Sophia Stein/The Occidental

Henry Kinskey (first year) was one of the students elected to Honor Board Sept. 10. He says he hopes the program will be a good way to get involved in college and to be a resource for other students.

“Honor Board is important because when we have cases and things that are going on that involve students, it’s important to get a student’s perspective and look at it from their view,” Kinskey said. “People who have been out of college [for a while] and haven’t been in that culture and environment just won’t understand and view that perspective similarly.”

Honor Board typically meets 8-9 p.m. Wednesdays.

*Kayla Heinze is an opinions editor for The Occidental

The Occidental receives funding from ASOC.