ASWU 3/3: Chief Justice and Senator Resign, Reaffiliation Process for Clubs Clarified
At the March 3 Senate meeting, the Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) heard resignation letters from former Senator Cameron Cole (‘23) and former Chief Justice Alexander Knorr (‘22). The Senate tested and approved a bill allowing the use of Zoom for public comment, passed a bill clarifying how clubs can and cannot be reaffiliated with ASWU, and discussed a bill to clarify ASWU’s election procedures.
Vice President Angel Park (‘22) read the letters of resignation first. Cole’s letter read: “I do not see the point in participating as a part of this body when the Senate’s autonomy is not respected by the administration and the Senate’s decisions can apparently be overturned at any time, despite no policy existing to justify this.” She cited two examples from recent weeks: the administrative reaffiliation of Willamette’s College Republicans club and the removal of the Student Labor Initiative (SLI) from this spring’s ballot. The SLI would increase student wages by raising the student fee. Cole said they hope their colleagues will continue to stand up for shared values and push back against administrative overreaches while taking care of their mental health, and that senators will be paid in the future.
“Hello my fellow comrades,” Knorr’s letter began. He cited ongoing health complications and hate and intolerance, both in ASWU and in the broader campus community, as reasons for his resignation. “The only weapon against hate is not simply cooler minds, but warmer hearts,” his letter read. “Although I feel a commitment to ASWU, it has become more circus than functioning student government. Different forces have been silenced, intolerance celebrated, students harassed in ASWU, basic duties sacrificed in favor of the agenda of a small and hateful clique. I hope that it will eventually live up to its potential for good rather than chaos, but that will likely be after my time.”
Cole’s letter was met with knocks; Knorr’s was met with silence.
During public comment, Cole and Senator Athena Marvitz (‘22), who had sent a proxy, both called in to test out using Zoom audio for public comment, which worked smoothly.
President Giovanni Bautista (‘22) reported that he is making his requests for feedback from university committees’ student representatives a monthly check-in, as he found what he learned informative. Bautista said he would send out the March check-in the following day and, depending on the response rate, try to report back at the next Senate meeting.
Treasurer Michael Burke (‘23) secured a senator to be ASWU’s hiring representative for the Willamette Events Board (WEB) and a senator to sponsor a bill for the proposed student fee increase discussed last week. Burke gave an in-depth presentation on the increase, which will be covered in an article to be linked [here].
Vice President Park (‘22) announced she is choosing a commencement speaker and sent out a form to seniors for feedback. If they don’t fill out the form, Park said she will choose the speaker for them. Park also announced that elections for ASWU executive, meaning the President, Vice President, Treasurer and Press Secretary, will be held the week before spring break.
During Senate Reports, Senator Gus Gunter (‘23) expressed concern over a policy that allows senators to retract statements from the official minutes: “I think that creates a sort of unreliability for the record and creates a concern that what is in the official minutes is not actually what happened.” He asked executive to reconsider the policy as not in the “best interests or good conduct” of the senate.
Senator Forrest Derr (‘24) said they plan to present the Student Labor Initiative to the senate at the next meeting, in line with ASWU policy around ballot initiatives. “I realize there was some contention with the initiative being put on the ballot, so if there is any sort of process we want to undergo to challenge that decision, it has to be presented to the senate first,” Derr said.
Carter McMahon (‘22), proxying for Marvitz, shared that Marvitz had a meeting scheduled with faculty advisor Emily Morris for Friday about the senior event, and that so far the biggest difficulty with the event has been the “not so big” budget.
Senator Inéz Nieves (‘24) talked about Charlie Li, a student recently expelled from Willamette Law school “for reasons that were unclear,” Nieves said. Li’s student visa was terminated when she was expelled, leaving her residency in question and ending the health insurance she needs for medical bills relating to her disabilities. “As a student who has medical chronic illnesses and disabilities myself, I am incredibly disappointed in Willamette University as a whole,” Nieves said. They condemned the racism leveled against Li, including “labeling her aggressive,” and ableism within Willamette’s Accessible Education Services (AES), which Nieves said has been “a continued problem” addressed by Willamette’s Disability Advocacy Club (DAC) and Neurodivergent Student Union (NDSU). Nieves said as someone who was not accommodated when she had to take a medical withdrawal, she is “incredibly disappointed” and hopes the school will “stop relying on a third-party PR firm,” as they did when giving comment to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) regarding Li’s case, adding, “I hope they will respond adequately to the situation now that it has risen to this level.”
The Senate unanimously passed a bill to clarify how clubs can be affiliated, disaffiliated, and reaffiliated with ASWU, written by Derr and Senator Billie Henderson (‘24). The bill specifies that affiliation decisions can only be made by ASWU, and cannot be decided by administration or any other body. Senators Nieves and Gunter both conceded that the bill is mostly symbolic and would be impossible to enforce, but that they support it as a statement.
The Senate unanimously passed a bill to make public comment accessible by Zoom, written by Cole.
In For the Good of the Order, Nieves gave a “quick shoutout” to Greg Jensen, a frequent commenter on The Collegian articles, often ones related to ASWU, with whom Nieves has exchanged ripostes. “Thank you for being our number one fan- a stan, if you will,” Nieves laughed. “Thank you for brightening my day with every ridiculous comment that you make, I really appreciate it; have a good night.”
Park announced that the elections commission needs a senator who is not running for an executive position to serve as the senate representative. Gunter volunteered specifically so he cannot be pressured into running for an executive position.