Followers of civic affairs in Corvallis have noticed an additional presence in the past few months: students.
The Associated Students of Oregon State University has decided to become more active in city issues. ASOSU President Cassie Huber and three of her cabinet members testified July 20 before the City Council on plans to expand Parking District C. The campus leaders expressed concerns that student voices had not been heard.
The council, after hearing from the students and other opponents of the plan, postponed a decision and held a public hearing Aug. 3 on the matter.
In between, a group of students took a walk in the neighborhood with Ward 2 Councilor Roen Hogg.
“Councilor Hogg offered his time and walked with us across Parking District C,” Huber said. “He explained the strategy behind the district, and we are very happy he volunteered his time.”
At the Aug. 3 council meeting ASOSU director of community programs Jonathan Goatcher used his visitor time slot to express his thanks for the tour and added that students were not against parking districts … they just wanted to have a voice in the matter.
Huber also testified Aug. 5 before the Administrative Services Committee, which is wrapping up work on updating the city’s property maintenance code. Huber said that the impact of the new code on students would be huge and that ASOSU wanted to help get the word out on the changes.
Huber also is the student member of the Community Relations Advisory Group, which is continuing the work on city-OSU livability issues that was started by the Collaboration Corvallis project.
“I would like to think we’re making more of an impact,” Huber said. “People are respecting us as we testify at these meetings. We want to be involved in discussing things, moving forward and provide input.
“There is this stereotype that college students and Corvallis residents can’t co-exist. We are here to look for compromises and to help mediate issues.”
Huber also noted the importance of parking and housing issues to students.
“It’s super-important that student voices are heard on getting those (parking) permits and where they are living,” she said.
And the city continues to listen. Councilors on Aug. 17 approved a plan by Mayor Biff Traber to assign Hogg to a liaison role with ASOSU.
Involvement in community affairs started early for Huber, who grew up in Turlock, California. Her parents were active in the Kiwanis Club and Cassie got involved in Key Club and the Salvation Army in high school.
“It took me out of my comfort zone and enabled me to reach out into other areas,” she said.
Huber chose not to participate in student government her freshman year, focusing instead of establishing herself as a student. After that she said she “wanted to make an impact on others.”
During her sophomore and junior years Huber served in community affairs positions with ASOSU, and she said it was a natural extension of that work to get involved in city affairs when she was elected president in the spring.
Huber is not taking any classes during the summer, when she is allowed to work 40 hours per week on student affairs, twice the hourly load that is permissible during the school year.
Huber, a communications major who expects to graduate in June 2016, said she has no plans to attend graduate school.
“My major is kind of broad,” she said. “I would like to go to work full-time. Maybe in public relations, maybe at a nonprofit. I have a strong interest in international relations.”
Ahead of her also is the decision of whether to stay in Oregon or move back to California.
“I have lots of family and connections in California, but I also have a strong love for Oregon,” Huber said.