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  • Collegian staff

ASWU establishes new officerships for restructured Senate

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

Emma Innes

Staff writer

The Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) has passed another bill amending the ASWU bylaws in its efforts to restructure to [increase student participation] and increase ASWU involvement in campus life. Following the [reduction of the number of senators], this bill redefines the different officerships Senators can fill and changes how Senators carry out projects. The new bylaws will take effect May 31. The bill was passed during the April 8 ASWU meeting.

The new officerships available to senators will be Financier, Communications Officer, Equity Officer and Administrator. ASWU previously [got rid] of the Caucus Whip role that would lead each class of Senators. Positions will be decided by the Vice President, who will receive input from senators in the form of ranking the positions based on what they prefer. Senators have the choice to accept their position, but declining will mean forfeiting their Senate seat. Senators representing the students from the American Studies Program (ASP) will not be assigned officerships. ASP only has two Senate seats compared to each class having four. Each class will have a Senator in each of the positions. There will also be responsibilities shared by every Senator, including writing bills and running weekly class caucus meetings.

The Equity Officer position is a new position created to serve on the Senate Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee as part of anti racism legislation ASWU passed [last semester]. The Equity officers’ other responsibilities will be to gather student concerns and give a report each academic year on diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Finance Officer position is largely the same as it was, a position that manages their class’ account and helps the Treasurer manage the finances of ASWU as a whole. The new bylaws state that each class account will get a semester budget of $100. The Financier can request more funds and spend funds, but only with the majority consent of other Senators of their class. During discussion before the voting on the bill a Senator asked about why the $100 for class accounts was being put into bylaws. ASWU Treasurer Michael Burke (‘23) clarified that this was a budget for routine outreach and PR done by Senators. According to Burke, it was being put in bylaws to ensure that a future Treasurer could not withhold needed funds.

The Communications Officer is an adjusted role with a rename and shifted duties. They are responsible for outreach to the student body, especially their own class. The Communications officer will be responsible for outreach to the class, gathering feedback, serving on external committees and serving on the Public Outreach Committee.

The Administrative Officer also had a shift in duties, taking a lead in keeping the operations of ASWU going. Their duties are listed as taking minutes and attendance during class meetings, serving on the External Affairs Committee, creating town halls and being the main volunteer for creating legislation with the Judicial Branch’s assistance.

Section eight of the bill goes into the details of how ASWU projects will be conducted. Previously, projects would be done by class, but now Senators can work on what project catches their interest. The ASWU Executive Board will send out a survey for proposals. Each Senator will need to sponsor or co-sponsor at least one project each academic year but cannot sponsor or co sponsor more than one project at a time. The Project must be approved by the Executive Board, who will then advise the involved Senators. Approved projects will be announced to the public and funds will be approved by the Senate.

Article VII of the bill lays out the protocols for committees, first the rules for meetings and then the makeup of each committee, with some of their overarching responsibilities. The committees listed are: Executive Council; Public Outreach; External Affairs; Finance and Affiliation; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Ad-hoc committees.

The last part of the bill addresses ASWU-affiliated student organizations. It affirms that all student organizations must submit an anti racism plan to the Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee. The bill states that if the Committee finds an organization’s anti racism plan is insufficient or the organization is not in compliance, they may regularly review the organization’s progress in upholding or building an anti racism plan. The Equity committee has the escalating options of removing club officers and disaffiliating the organization.

ASWU still has several things to do left for its restructuring, and the process will continue into the 2021-22 academic year. Currently, three Senators are writing the bills with assistance from the Chief Justice and Vice President. [Former Senator] Zeke Druker (‘24) was previously part of the group as well. Chief Justice Sam Johnston (‘21) said that the group is now prioritizing what can be accomplished during the rest of the semester. Johnston said another consideration for what to prioritize is the [overall goals] of ASWU restructuring: “I think a lot of which [overall goals of restructuring] are related to making ASWU a more attractive opportunity for students and increasing engagement that way. And also making ASWU kind of a more visibly active group on campus that lots of students can be aware of the work that we're doing.” Johnston said the group is also working on cleaning up the ASWU bylaws, including taking out outdated things such as Wulapooluza.

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