Correction: ASOSU president Isabel Nunez Perez's name was originally misspelled. This correction has been made.
Every year, Oregon State University students have the opportunity to elect a new president and vice president to lead its student government, the Associated Students of OSU.
The goals of ASOSU aim to help promote academic excellence and to help students be able to feel their needs are being heard and met.
All students on the OSU Corvallis campus are eligible to vote for the ASOSU president and vice president. Last year, the student body chose Isabel Nunez Perez and Metzin Rodriguez as their president and vice president respectively.
Dhru Patel and Dylan Perfect will serve as ASOSU president and vice-president respectively for the 2021/22 academic year.
Nunez Perez is a political science major with an option in law and politics and a minor in Spanish. Before running for president, she had been elected to the ASOSU House of Representatives and the Senate. In addition, she was also a part of the Presidential Student Legislative Advocates and she participated in a dance team led by students of color at OSU.
Nunez Perez chose to take on the daunting challenge of running for ASOSU president after encouragement from a close friend and her community. She also wanted to be able to build a better sense of community for other students.
According to Nunez Perez, “when I first got to OSU, I felt isolated and alone. I did have friends, but I was missing community and lacked a sense of belonging that started once I found people that I could relate to in Spanish class.”
”Through my experiences I saw how ASOSU has been set up to not necessarily support everyone and how some fundamental processes had Queer and [Black, Indigenous, and people of color] students as an afterthought,” Nunez Perez said. “I also noticed that at times ASOSU could be a hostile environment due to it being a white dominated space.”
During her time as president, Nunez Perez has held many responsibilities including meeting with OSU President F. King Alexander, the vice provost for student affairs Dan Larson, the senior associate vice president for finance and administration Paul Odenthal, and the Faculty Senate. In addition, she advocates for various student priorities such as tuition and basic needs.
Throughout her time serving OSU students, Nunez Perez has learned that “it is very hard to initiate change in a system that is inherently built to advantage some over others.”
In other words, for Nunez Perez being able to enact the change she desires can be difficult, especially when she is only given one year to do so and there are many forces working against her. These forces include OSU’s administration.
“My role means that I interact with and work heavily with admin. Something that has changed is that they are learning to adapt to better ways to include students in their decision making,” Nunez Perez said. “Although there is a long way to go, I do believe that I have been able to open their eyes to the very real struggles that students are facing and how there is a lot more that could be done to help us.”
Serving alongside Nunez Perez is Metzin Rodriguez, the ASOSU vice president. Rodriguez is a bioresource research major with an option in sustainable ecosystems. Like Nunez Perez, when Rodriguez came to OSU, she did not feel a sense of belonging or community. She was also hesitant to run for the position of vice president despite wanting to do so due to feeling like she, a woman of color, would be unable.
“I always wanted to run for a position in student government and oftentimes I would say ‘one day I will run for president or vice president of ASOSU,’ but at times it felt like an unreachable goal because I never saw someone like me in those positions,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez’s responsibilities as vice president include being the president of the ASOSU Senate, co-managing and overseeing the executive branch, and chairing the election process for the 2020/21 election cycle.
Like Nunez Perez, Rodriguez feels that many of the goals they set when running for president and vice president will take many years to meet.
“My goals for OSU when I ran for vice president were to break stigmas about student government and intersectionality of different topics about the environment, racial justice, inclusivity, and others,” Rodriguez said. “Not only that, but engaging our student voices in conversations where we oftentimes were left out from.”