The campus campaigning season is at its peak this week, as candidates for Associated Students of Oregon State University positions and Memorial Union leadership posts vie for last-minute votes from students.
An open debate for candidates is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. today on the Memorial Union Quad. If it rains, the event will move to the MU Lounge.
The two teams running for ASOSU president and vice president are Andrew Struthers and Nolan Nichols versus Shawn Nemati and Farbodd Ganjifard.
Craig Bidiman and Charley McGowan are running for Memorial Union president and vice president against incumbent Jorge Michel and his running mate, Jennifer Lam.
Bidiman and McGowan, who also are co-presidents of the Oregon State University Musicians Guild, have organized a nonpartisan "Rock the Vote" event to encourage voter turnout on Wednesday afternoon.
Three musical groups will perform from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday on the MU quad. They are Future Sonz (aka Corvallis DJ Ben Metzger), the Tim Karplus Band and Oxbow Drive.
All candidates for all positions are invited to the event, which is meant to improve voter turnout. Fewer than 3,000 students out of the 21,000-plus who are enrolled voted last year, according to ASOSU.
The lack of voter participation is puzzling, given the considerable power that student representatives have over how student fees are spent.
"By the numbers, the '09-'10 allocation to ASOSU alone was roughly $947,000," said Christian Matheis, ASOSU student advocate and leadership instructor. "With the allocation of the newer program - the Human Services Resource Center - the total ASOSU budget will probably operate at about 1.1 million starting on July 1 of this year."
He said the positions, particularly the ASOSU president, also are heavily involved in the funding allocations and decisions affecting the entire $23 million incidental fees budget. The president serves on the University President's Cabinet, is heavily invested in state and federal lobbying and is considered the lobbyist for the students on campus.
In addition, the ASOSU president and vice president supervise a staff of around 70 students, three professional employees (including Matheis) and two attorneys on contract.
Similarly, the Memorial Union president and vice president oversee the business affairs of the MU, and are in charge of hiring and overseeing the MU Planning Council staff, usually 10-12 students, as well as overseeing the MU Board of Directors, which is comprised of eight students who represent a diverse array of campus interests.
Each year, the MUPC organizes many of OSU's signature events, including Moms' Weekend, Dads' Weekend, the Battle of the Bands/Flat Tail Festival and Snow in the Quad.
In the next few years, the Memorial Union leadership will be heavily involved in the creation of a new "student experience center" that will house ASOSU, student media and other campus offices and replace Snell Hall/MU East, which is scheduled for demolition in the next two years.
Online polls will open at 10 p.m. Wednesday night and remain open for 24 hours. Students can vote through their accounts on the university's Blackboard website - a forum for class discussions, grade books and assignments.
Other ASOSU positions up for election include speaker of the house, senators, undergraduate and graduate representatives, and Student Incidental Fees Committee representative. Students elected this week will be inaugurated May 25.
To learn more about the candidates and their platforms, see http://asosu.oregonstate.edu/elections.