On Feb. 24, the Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) swore in Aidan Lawrence-Devine (‘22) as press secretary, continued to discuss the administrative reinstatement of Willamette’s College Republicans as an ASWU-affiliated club, heard a report on the winter meeting of Willamette’s Board of Trustees from President Giovanni Bautista (‘22), heard an initial presentation from Treasurer Michael Burke (‘23) about raising the mandatory student fee and discussed proposed bills.
During public comment, Juliana Ha (‘25), Lucky Schayngesicht (‘25) and Sarah Henry (‘24) raised concerns about the reinstatement of the College Republicans. Guest speaker Oli Muñoz, dean of students for community care and inclusion, followed up on questions she received at the previous senate meeting regarding her decision to reinstate the club. “I know it’s an unpopular decision, and that most of you hate it,” she said, but said she wants to focus on “education and restoration” and laying groundwork for handling similar situations in the future and working to prevent them from happening. Muñoz said she received a lot of student input and read the investigative report, but just “didn’t agree with what happened.” Muñoz said she is happy to discuss the matter with students, at any length, outside of ASWU.
In preparation for the upcoming spring executive election, ASWU is forming a commission of one senator, one justice, and three appointed members from the student body to run the election. Justice Hollis Mantle (‘25) was approved by the senate to serve on the commission. As president, Bautista will nominate the three non-ASWU members by March 11. The opportunity to serve on the commission will be advertised by Today @ Willamette and the ASWU Instagram account.
President Bautista shared more feedback he received from surveying the student representatives serving on university committees. “Due to their attention being diverted into all things COVID,” the Bishop Advisory Committee has not met this year, but they “hope to have a more robust committee next year.” The Campus Safety Advisory Committee has also not met this year, but their student representative sent feedback anyways. The representative noted that Montag has been broken into twice this academic year and that “it could happen again,” that there are ongoing concerns around swipe access to campus buildings, and they “perceive a lack of preparedness when it comes to natural disasters and mass casualty events.”
Bautista also relayed information from the recent Board of Trustees meeting about enrollment. As of Feb. 15, 2022, Willamette has sent admit letters to 3,030 applicants, a 16.8% increase over the number of admits, 2,594, at the same time last year. A total of 2,921 admit letters were sent out by Fall 2021, while the university’s target for this fall is 3,250. Bautista reported that the key factors that increase enrollment are financial aid, campus visits and virtual events. To that end, Willamette is offering a $400 travel reimbursement voucher to prospective students from outside Oregon or Washington, and a $500 scholarship for visiting campus for Oregon and Washington students who visited between Oct. and Dec. 2021. Bautista said 80 admitted students used the travel reimbursement and 232 will use the scholarship, and that an “Unpacking the FAFSA” virtual presentation drew over 200 people.
Treasurer Michael Burke (‘23) announced administration has approved his plan to raise the mandatory student fee from $113 to $140, starting next semester. In addition to raising the baseline fee, the proposed change would raise the annual increase to that fee from $1 to $5 per year. Burke explained that the raise is necessary because ASWU’s expenses are “still more than any form of income we can get,” despite student organizations cutting back requests. The proposed increase is still not enough to start covering costs immediately—Burke said it would need to be almost forty dollars higher to make ends meet—but “it’s enough to start covering us in three to five years, assuming enrollment gets better.”
The Collegian asked Burke if ASWU has information on student opinion about raising the fee. “Students don’t want to, which is not shocking,” Burke said. “I very specifically didn’t request a fee increase that we actually need to make ends meet” because “students aren’t excited about paying an additional thirty-six dollars. I wouldn’t be; I’m not particularly excited either, but it’s something I have viewed as, like, needed.”
In an email, Burke said he “will be presenting a more formal presentation on ASWU finances and the fee increase situation next week at senate.”
During senate reports, Senator Athena Marvitz (‘22) gave an update on the senior event, which is now planned to be a grab-and-go on the 2nd floor balcony of the University Center so it can be both in-person and COVID-safe. Marvitz asked for any seniors interested in helping plan the event to get in contact with her.
During new business, the senate unanimously approved two emergency funding requests: one from The Collegian, for $1,218.75, and one from Choice Action Team (CAT), for $458.00.
For the good of the order, Senator Inéz Nieves (‘24) said they will not vote to fund any requests from the College Republicans unless they are reaffiliated through ASWU, and called on her fellow senators to do the same. In response to a question from Senator Forrest Derr (‘24), Holliday explained that the Student Labor Initiative, which would have paid students in ASWU-funded jobs $15 per hour by raising the mandatory student fee, will not be on the ballot during the next ASWU election because “ASWU does not have the jurisdiction to determine who in student leadership positions is an employee, and then also what their pay will be.”