After the Associated Students of the University of Redlands (ASUR) ceased its operations this academic school year, there will no longer be campaign posters placed around the school mirroring marketable slogans, and there won’t be an election for students to vote for their favorite candidates. In fact, the university will not have a student body government at all. In this void, the Student Voice Task Force (SVTF) was created to establish a new student government framework. By addressing the current issues faced on campus and finding modern solutions to these problems, the SVTF is hoping to repair the issues confronted by ASUR.
ASUR was the university’s student body government. It mirrored a Republic government with the existence of a Cabinet, consisting of a Judicial Council, Social Affairs, Convocations, Lectures, and a Senate. ASUR also had an elected body to represent students on a plethora of issues, from academics and university policy to student life. As ASUR was incorporated with part-time positions and separate clubs, students of all grade levels could participate in this governmental structure.
However, as of the 2023-2024 academic year, ASUR operations have been suspended. From a glimpse, it is hard to fathom how a system so integral to the university could falter. What errors can end a student-led government? The Redlands Bulldog published an article detailing the reasoning for its failure, which revolves around issues including limited student awareness and interest, systematic inefficiency, and an abstract, out-of-date constitution that is not reflective of modern times.
“Before, there was no participation and a lack of transparency,” Student Voice Task Force representative Peter Vargas ‘25 said when asked about the reason for ASUR’s failure.
Though ASUR is currently out of commission, the possibility of revitalization lies in its future. This is the first year of the Student Voice Task Force (SVTF), which was created “to try and find an alternative student government, […] with new codes that student governments could follow to better fit the needs of students,” according to Vargas.
All members are students nominated in response to an email sent by Vice President of Student Affairs, Donna Eddleman, who sought out student representatives with an active role on campus to bring unique, intuitive, and diverse ideas to the force.
“We got a wide representation of students from across campus[…] We are optimistic where [SVTF] is at, and where it is going,” said Eddleman.
While there is no current timestamp for when ASUR will re-emerge, and uncertainty if it will keep the same name, Vargas explains, “The goal is for next [academic] year to have ASUR government back, so currently we are working to build a backbone for the new government.”
SVTF member Starla Murillo ‘24 adds, “I think everyone affiliated with the school should be excited about this because SVTF is not only run by a really diverse group of people but is composed of enthusiastic students who know the university well. Since most of us are upperclassmen, we have seen the changes made to the school throughout the years and have seen where things went wrong and where things went right. People who are part of SVTF also have their own opinions on things they would like to see happen, so there’s a sense of personal motivation that is tied into this as well.”
The urgency to modernize ASUR is not without reason. Murillo explained, “We aim to get students involved as much as possible because, at the end of the day, we need to cater to students’ needs. If students want to see change being done, we need to work together to ensure that we exhaust all the resources we have to follow through on the changes students want and need.”
On Oct. 4, a Town Hall was hosted to update students and to raise awareness about the SVTF’s efforts. So far, the SVTF’s main priority is getting students to fill out their survey response, which asks students their priorities, thoughts, and inputs about a new government, and what reforms they want to see. Once enough responses have been collected, the force can begin analyzing this data to craft a constitution that most people can agree with. Filling out this survey automatically enters students into a giveaway for free dining dollars and gift cards. Vargas also encouraged students to follow the SVTF’s Instagram account at “uofr_svtf” to be notified of important updates and key events.
“People should take initiative and fill out the form so your voice can be heard, rather than just complaining about issues, which will get nothing done,” implored Vargas.
While the SVTF is a monumental step towards the restoration of a new student government, it will take collective cognizance, appreciation, and action from the next student body to ensure the success of the restructuring process. While it’s not going to be easy, the SVTF is determined to generate lasting change that will positively impact all students on campus.
Photo by Aspen Aldama.