At the Associated Students of Lane Community College Student Government meeting in January, Amadeo Rehbein was unanimously ratified by student senators as the new ASLCC Vice President. Rehbein previously campaigned for the office in spring 2018 on an executive ticket with Becca Hill, but eventually lost the election to Keely Blyleven and Dan Good. After the election, Rehbein briefly became the Gender and Sexuality Diversity Advocate for the student government before Good and Blyleven’s resignations dropped the ASLCC into turmoil and set in motion the events that led to his ratification as Vice President.
Now a month into his term, Rehbein spoke with The Torch about his background, his experience working with the ASLCC and his plans for the future.
(Editor’s note: Some answers have been edited for length, clarity and grammar.)
Are you from Eugene originally?
I am not from Eugene! I’m from Portland, moved to Willamina and graduated from McMinnville High School, eventually coming down here with my partner in 2015.
What is your major?
I’ve finally decided to narrow my focuses into physics. Lane has given me a challenge in finding the right path, but along the way I got a degree in studio arts, which has proven to be a passion. I also took astronomy classes as an extracurricular and realized that my true interests lie in physics, so I’m starting on my journey now, four years into community college.
Why did you decide to run for office?
When I originally looked into applying for student government staff positions back in spring 2017, there were many of the same issues going on. There was lack of communication, disconnected politics and choices I felt were being made without all the right pieces present. That same feeling was present when I applied for staff this fall, so when Nick Keough asked me to be his appointee for Vice President, I saw an opportunity to speak up and use my voice for justice within these spaces where I feel inequity, to lead people who have been left without support by those tasked to do so, and to get things done. That’s why I hoped to be considered by senators, and was grateful to be eventually ratified!
Do you have political aspirations beyond LCC?
I get asked this a lot actually. I actually abhor bureaucratic institutions. There’s a lot of change that needs to happen to make them accessible to the people who need it most in our communities, especially people of color and LGBTQ people. I just don’t have the drive within me to continue on at a large scale level. That being said, I really respect small and local level organizing and politics. I come from small towns and organizations, so I see the power in that. I could see myself in 5 or 8 years sitting on a city water board or running for an underrepresented district chair, but that’s as far as it ever could go. I live for that, and maybe that’s why I love student government–the empowerment!
Have you acclimated to your new role in the ASLCC?
I’d love to say yes! I’m still getting used to it, but mostly the meetings are happening smoothly and I’m running at 90% efficiency. The student government is a really great team, so we’re all super understanding of everyone’s capacity. I have a list of projects to get to and I’m already getting started on some big ones.
What do you like about it?
“I really love how much passion everyone has. You can ask people pretty much any time what they’re looking forward to doing, what their ambitions are, and what their next steps are and they’ll always have an answer. Everyone involved in student government right now has some story and some reason right now. It almost makes me want to cry right now when I think about the passion these people have for their dreams. In most places, people don’t always feel comfortable talking. But, once you start building them as a leader, once they petition on as a senator or apply for staff, suddenly people start sharing ideas, wanting to shape this campus and make this place better for everyone. When you think about the fact that most of these people are going to school full time… it makes me want to do better, make this place better.”
Since the ASLCC has been notably controversial this year, what changes do you hope to bring?
I think the controversy from last term was due to a lack of accountability and leadership from the executive team. There needs to be a certain amount of presence and accountability as the face of an organization for the issues and mistakes that happen. There also have to be conversations and team building, working through things to make sure you put on your best face for the students. For the rest of the year, I hope to be a voice of reason and accountability, frankly working towards the best interests of the Senate while advocating for the executive team’s goals in my own time. I hope to work with groups outside student government and continue our existing work, and I don’t forsee any of the issues that arose last term to pop up again. While governments will always be rife with controversy, because we make decisions and those decisions are bound to reflect some students and not all. I hope to lead as an example for the rest of the year until the last term is put to rest.
What are your goals and plans for the remainder of your time at ASLCC?
I would love to support Senators in all their projects and events, and staff in all of their programs. I would like to have the Inclusive College Committee regularly meeting again. I hope to work with unions and amplify their voice in this college, and do better to support and explore the vast and exciting on campus groups and resources that we have.
Your past conflicts with the administration seem to be fairly well known by student government. Do you anticipate that this will cause any more friction?
I think that they are well known because I make them well known. I’m phrasing it like that because I believe my conflicts to be fairly one-sided. I don’t know how unwilling administration has ever been to work with me, or ever will be in the future. Most of my conflicts are with the system and individuals. As I progress, I meet with people and haven’t been turned away or gotten student government or the students at large in a bad position. As for friction within student government, I don’t think it will cause any. I’m sure they understand where I stand and have stood and that in my time as an elected representative of the ASLCC , it is my duty to fairly and ethically speak on behalf and for all of them. If I were to start fights or bring up drama with anyone in this school, I would get in the way of that goal. So I don’t anticipate it, no. If it were to cause friction, I’d just tell them what I just said, and leave it at that. I’m here to solve problems, not create them.
Have you witnessed any friction between ASLCC and The Torch?
No, I don’t think so! I can’t speak on behalf of any individuals, but for the organization, the Torch’s reporting activities are fine. I think any defensiveness felt from members of student government are from them as people, as many of them are new to positions of interest where interviews can happen. The Torch does valuable work for this school, bringing to light events on and off campus, talking about our sporting groups, and even reporting about resources and groups that students might not know about. ASLCCSG focuses on the reporting work you all do for us, the student body.
Do you have anything else that you would like to add?
I’m glad to be working with this new team of senators and staff towards bettering LCC and the lives of our students. I hope that students feel empowered to speak out andand realize that there are more ways to get involved than ever. There are clubs, identity unions, and other specific student groups, all targeted to fitting into student schedules.