Guest Opinion: The O’Leary Ticket: ASUU is Broken


Chloe Shewell (left), Jack O’Leary (middle) and Parker Madsen (right) walking on campus. They make up the O’Leary ASUU Presidential Ticket. (Photo via O’Leary Ticket)

By The O'Leary Ticket


As we exit the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this campus feels alive — students are in class and the campus is active. Nowhere is this activity seen more than in the Associated Students of the University of Utah election for Student Body Presidency.

This presidential election is set to be one of the most consequential in our campus’ history. We have three tickets vying for control of the ASUU executive branch, and many are proposing similar reforms to address big issues, including campus safety and building a sense of belonging.

The O’Leary Ticket is different.

We are running knowing that student government is broken. As former ASUU Chief of Staff, Jack O’Leary, our presidential candidate, saw the agenda items students voted for in the last election get stonewalled by a broken system. That is why he, along with our entire ticket, wants to present a new vision for ASUU, a restructuring of how it works so that ours and future administrations can implement the agenda students vote for.

ASUU’s guiding document, Redbook, is over 70 pages long — longer than some state constitutions. But more important than its length is its function. Redbook contains many outdated and cumbersome procedures that delay and stop essential ASUU operations, like the funding of clubs. But ASUU’s most fundamental problem is how it interacts with the rest of campus.

In last year’s Student Body President election, less than 10% of students voted. This year, ASUU had to push back the filing deadline for legislative candidates due to a lack of interest. And as a consequence, the majority of the legislature, who represent individual colleges, are appointed by Senate and Assembly leadership instead of being elected. This gives leaders in the Senate and Assembly a disproportionate amount of power over the makeup of both chambers, which was not an intention of the Redbook creators.

This leadership vacuum has also led to $200,000 to $500,000 of ASUU’s funding going unspent. That money is students’ money, given to ASUU through the student activity fee we pay at the start of every semester. These are student dollars that should be spent every year, not held on to like a bank. And as a ticket, we commit to doing everything in our power to spend this money effectively.

Moreover, as outlined by many past members of ASUU’s executive branch, the work is long and hard, and they are under-compensated. This needs to change. Many of the directors and associate directors of executive departments within ASUU work long hours and get paid only at the end of each semester. How can we expect to engage students if our student employees are underequipped and underpaid? Furthermore, we are proposing a complete overhaul of the structure of the executive cabinet so that it is more organized and works better for students. If ASUU is to represent students, empower change and address our campus’ problems, the internal structure needs to evolve.

We are running to represent you. We have a comprehensive platform we can’t wait to implement if given the opportunity. But we know what the obstacles are to implementation. ASUU is broken. We can’t trust those complicit in that broken system to be the ones to fix it, nor can we entrust the job to those who will need to learn how the system operates. We need experience, not insiders. We need real solutions, not empty promises. We need a presidency that will fight for students.

The O’Leary ticket is that presidency. Join us in being the change.


— The O’Leary Ticket, Candidate for the Presidency of the Associated Students of the University of Utah



The Daily Utah Chronicle publishes guest op-eds written by faculty, elected officials and other members of the public on topics relevant to students at the University of Utah. The Chronicle welcomes guest op-ed pitches here.