ASWU Clarifies Petition Process, Adds No Confidence Vote Removal
Photos by Anushka Srivastav
On March 2, 2023, The Democratic Reform Bill created by Senator Zeke Druker (‘24) was presented to the Associate Students of Willamette University (ASWU) in order to define the petition process for removing elected officials and add a Senate no confidence vote as an additional form of removal. The Democratic Reform Bill was tabled during the March 2 Senate meeting, but passed a week later on March 9.
Andrew Caruana (‘24) introduced an additional petition to amend the ASWU constitution and Bylaws, stressing to the Senate that there is a need to define the petitioning process in ASWU as soon as possible. Caruana’s petition proposed a campus wide vote of no confidence for ASWU Executive officers that could be triggered via petition.
After Caruana presented the petition, Druker motioned that the Senate should discuss the Democratic Reform Bill, as it would address Caruana’s and many other students’ concerns.
When presenting the bill, Druker stated, “there is currently no instructions for how petitions should work. This has been a very major source of frustration for anyone who's tried to engage with that process. This petition process is referenced in section one of the bill. It also changes a few other language pieces, and clarifies definitions that are vague.”
They then discussed how the bill being presented is a “codification of the logical consequence of existing principles,” as it “wouldn’t actively change any amendments in the ASWU constitution.” Rather, it would simply define the petitioning process and how the Senate would be involved with this process, adding additional sections to define what the petitioning process would like within the scope of the Constitution. One of these additions would be a no-confidence clause, which would allow the senate to have a formal vote to indicate whether they are no longer in support of a member in the executive branch and remove that member.
After Druker presented the bill, many Senators were concerned with the use of jargon, stating that it was difficult to interpret especially because Senators were only allotted twenty four hours to read the bill prior to the meeting. Senator Adelaide Kemp (‘25) stated that she, along with many other senators “hadn’t gotten a chance to thoroughly read the bill [because of midterms] and create our own individual interpretations,” leading some to want to table the discussion and wait until the next meeting on March 9 to have an in-depth discussion about the implications and repercussions of the bill.
However, public opinion was quite the opposite. Mitchell Everetts (‘24) stated, “one of the biggest aspects about being a representative is that you have to have the trust of the people in which you represent. If you lose that trust for some reason, then you should not be a representative of the people.” He continued on claiming that, “ at this moment, we [students of Willamette] have no legitimate way of expressing that total distrust in that person, and it is for that reason that not supporting this bill feels like not supporting the involvement of the student body in this student body council.”
Both Druker and Carunana emphasized that these attempts to create a definition of the petitioning process were not aimed at anyone in particular and were to prevent situations where student voices didn’t feel heard by ASWU. President Ian Curtis (’23) responded by stating he values the discussion and wanted to highlight a few topics, including the use of restructuring committee, which is chaired by Vice President Eliza Gonzalez (‘25), and by foregoing a conversation without the involvement of the committee casts aside the purpose of why it was created–to restructure. He went on to address that, “If your cause for writing this bill isn’t related to any specific person or allegations as folks have claimed tonight, I would recommend that we move to amend the enactment date to April 28th, which is the day following our last senate meeting,” justifying that this would ensure that the remaining weeks in ASWU would be dedicated to the “important work we are doing.”
In response, Caruana claimed that the bill had no relevance to the committee as it wouldn’t allow there to be any public interaction or opinion. He additionally pointed out that Curtis’ statement was disrespectful, emphasizing to “suggest that this bill’s enactment waits until someone in this body is no longer at risk of losing their seat is incredibly disrespectful, because that tells me, that tells this entire student body that you don’t care about their opinions, you care about protecting your seat. He went on, stating, “You should be ashamed of yourself“
Ultimately after a lengthy discussion about tabling the bill and split vote in the Senate, Gonzalez voted on tabling the discussion and waiting until the next meeting to vote on The Democratic Reform Bill. The bill passed during this next meeting on March 9th, 2023.