WOU boasts a phenomenal student government, aptly named the Associated Students of Western Oregon University (ASWOU). These leaders are dedicated to ensuring students are well-supported, as well as advocating for student rights. We had the opportunity to speak with ASWOU president Erik Morgan Jr., who offered us some insight into his experience with the organization. Here’s what he had to say:
What is your position? Can you describe what this position entails?
I am the President of the student body of WOU. My job is to advocate for student rights at the local, state, and federal level. I am the spokesperson of the WOU student body to the WOU administration, the Oregon State legislature, and the U.S. Congress.
I am also in charge of hiring and supervising the Executive Cabinet of the ASWOU Student Government. The members of the Executive Cabinet assist me in organizing events, supervising clubs, and lobbying for student rights.
What do people misunderstand about what you do?
What people misunderstand about my role as ASWOU President, and really the entire student government, is that the only service ASWOU provides to the WOU community is the supervision of ASWOU-chartered clubs. Another service we provide is the ASWOU Book Exchange, where students can sell their unwanted textbooks to other students. We also engage students in political matters that may affect the WOU community. This often involves hosting Lobby Days at the State Capitol with either the WOU administration or our partners at the Oregon Student Association.
How did you get involved with student government?
I started off going to an ASWOU-sponsored club, Unidos. This club acts as a support system for undocumented students on WOU’s campus. After a few months of attending club meetings as a general member, I became a member of Unidos’ leadership. In that leadership position, I was required to interact with the ASWOU Student Government itself. Through that work with ASWOU, I found an open position on its Judicial Board. I felt that a position as an ASWOU Justice fit my skill set so I applied and got the position.
Were you involved in student government before coming to WOU?
I was not involved in student government before ASWOU. In high school, I played soccer and participated in theatre productions. Student government was not on my radar before coming to WOU.
What is the biggest benefit of participating in ASWOU?
The biggest benefit of participating in ASWOU is getting to work together with your fellow students to make WOU the best it can be. Between the Executive Cabinet, the Senate, the Judicial Board, and charted clubs, there are hundreds of students creating spaces for their peers to thrive.
What has been your favorite aspect of student government?
My favorite part of student government is when my team and I manage to help a student realize the political power that they possess. It is my firm belief that every person has the ability to make a difference at the governmental level. Helping empower students to seize that power is what makes student government a valuable asset to the WOU community.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I plan on continuing to advocate for higher education at the Oregon State legislature level. My long term plans include going back to school to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy and becoming a professor at a public higher education institution.
If you’re interested in getting involved with ASWOU, more information can be found here.