The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Taylor Sarman Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Chris Petersen.

November 16, 2015


Taylor Sarman was born in La Grande, Oregon and raised in Union, a small town east of La Grande. Interested in politics from an early age, Sarman joined student government immediately upon beginning high school, and also became involved with Future Business Leaders of America during his freshman year. After two years as a state officer in the Oregon chapter of FBLA, Sarman successfully ran for national FBLA president prior to his senior year, 2011-12.

Sarman graduated from high school in 2012 and enrolled at Oregon State University that fall, majoring in Political Science. Even before he arrived on campus, however, Sarman became involved with student government at Oregon State, accepting a position as congressional clerk for the Associated Students of OSU one month before school started. During winter term of his freshman year, Sarman also began a six-month internship with Representative Jeff Reardon in the Oregon Legislature, focusing on issues related to career and technical education.

That June, Sarman was hired into another ASOSU position, Executive Director of Government Relations, where he oversaw all of the student government's lobbying efforts in Salem and elsewhere. In June 2013, Sarman likewise became a board member of the Oregon Student Association, continuing in this position until September 2015. Most notably, Sarman became the first student representative on OSU's newly created Board of Trustees when the board convened for the first time in January 2014.

As Sarman's term as Executive Director of Government Relations began to wind down, he decided to run for ASOSU president, and he and his vice president, Bryan Williamson, were subsequently elected to office in June 2014. Sarman spent his junior year as president, with a primary goal of dialoguing with students and rehabilitating ASOSU's image on campus. During his year leading the executive branch, Sarman vetoed a bill that sought to create seats in the ASOSU legislature that were set aside specifically for identity-based populations - a bill that Sarman saw as well-meaning but flawed in its execution - and worked to change the student incidental fee system.

In June 2015, Sarman finished his tenure as president and in September 2015 he completed his term as trustee. Sarman immediately began working with the OSU Athletic Department as Manager of Athletic Operations and with the Our Oregon political coalition as a community outreach fellow. In January 2016, Sarman began a four-month internship at the White House with the President's Commission on Fellowship. Scheduled to graduate from OSU in 2016, Sarman plans to work in public service and serve the state of Oregon, with a particular focus on labor policy and rural economic development.