This past summer, Governor John Kitzhaber signed SB 270 into law, clearing the way for the implementation of local institutional governing boards at the University of Oregon, Portland State University and later by request, Oregon State University.
Each University was tasked with finding a student to represent the University on the governing board. One university went about recommending a student to the board a bit differently than the others. Sam Dotters-Katz, our student body president, recommended himself to be our student representative.
Student body president of OSU, Brett Deedon, did not recommend himself to the Governor. In fact, him and his Vice President went out and sought candidates for the board, eventually finding Taylor Sarman, a sophomore, who is director of government relations. They had roughly a week to do this.
“What we did was pick someone who had the most institutional knowledge with the university and had a strong student voice,” Deedon said.
Dotters-Katz said he was not the one who received an email from the Governor’s office and was notified by the Governor’s office request by someone else in the office.
“By the time that I was made aware of the situation, I had a week,” said Dotters-Katz.
To be clear: Dotters-Katz did not have a week from the time the Governor’s office sent the email, he had a week from the time he discovered the email.
After the email was brought to his attention, Dotters-Katz met with a number of student government members who were available for the summer to discuss what the process for recommending should be. Dotters-Katz recalls external affairs director, Christina Hardesty and Senator, Taylor Allison as two of the members of the ASUO that he talked to. Ultimately, the final decision was made by Dotters-Katz.
“Basically what was decided was that within one week, in the middle of summer time, there was no way that we could set up a fair broadly outreaching process to find what we could say was the best nomination we could, throughout all of campus.”
Dotters-Katz said that he plans on creating a task force that has a fair, broadly outreaching process to make the best recommendation in the future.
If Dotters-Katz had had more time, perhaps the process would have been more fair.
The student body president of Portland State University, Harris Foster, had roughly 18 days to find a recommendation. PSU composed a hiring committee of five students both on and off student government. The applications were open for two weeks and Foster and his hiring committee interviewed each applicant for an hour. After all the candidates had been interviewed, the committee debated for over two hours as to who the recommendation should be.
“None of the other student groups on campus had a problem with it and all of the student government officials I worked with were okay with it because we were straight forward with what we were doing, how we were doing it and why we were doing it,” said Foster.
When they were short on time, PSU communicated with the Governor’s office and requested an extension to their deadline. It was granted. Dotters-Katz did not communicate with the Governor’s office.
It appears that the student leaders at PSU and OSU were a bit more concerned and calculated with who would be representing them on the governing board than our student leaders were.
Dotters-Katz and his executive staff may have had only one week to put together a recommendation, but their time crunch could have been easily averted or solved had they more diligently checked their emails or requested an extension.
The model for how to improve the recommendation process that Dotters-Katz wants to use comes from the University of Washington, but I think that the ASUO executive should take a page from the playbook of PSU and what they did this summer.
Editor’s note: Kevin Sullivan was the campaign manager for Ducks for a Difference, the slate that ran against Sam Dotters-Katz.