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ASWU President vetoes club funding over confusion during vote

Jake Procino

News editor

Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) Vice President Mary Robicheaux sent an email to ASWU on Feb. 26 notifying them that ASWU President Claire Mathews-Lingen vetoed the motion passed on Feb. 25 to approved the budget for clubs, including funding clubs that had yet to submit an anti-racism action plan.

ASWU [passed legislation] this past October requiring all ASWU-affiliated clubs to participate in an annual anti-racism training and to submit an anti-racism plan in order to be granted funding. The [ASWU Constitution] grants the President the power to “veto any legislation of the ASWU Senate” as long as the President sends a written statement to the Vice President within the week of the legislation passing.

In a written explanation of the veto, President Mathews-Lingen said she believes the senate did not have an informed conversation about the motion before passing it, saying: “Senators were still asking questions and stating confusion as the vote took place, not to mention that we were nearing 2hrs & 40min [normal meetings last an hour], and several senators had logged off by the time the vote took place.”

Collegian staff attended the ASWU meeting and ASWU Chief Justice Sam Johnston (’21) confirmed the events of the meeting as follows: the ASWU Finance Board had recommended a budget to the senate which withheld funding from clubs that had not yet submitted an anti-racism plan. Senator Zeke Druker (’24) introduced a motion to fund the Jewish Student Union (JSU) and Hawaii Club, despite neither club having submitted an anti-racism plan at the time of the meeting. When informed by the ASWU Executive Board that ASWU could not pass a budget that grants preferential treatment to specific clubs, Senator Druker introduced a motion to pass funding for all clubs that had been rejected because they had not yet submitted an anti-racism plan.

President Mathews-Lingen said of the events in the email, “the bias preference being given to some specific clubs over others last night does not align with the values of ASWU or Willamette.” Chief Justice Johnson said he supported the veto because it seemed to him that senators were not fully aware of the ramifications of the motion they were voting on.

In an email to the Collegian, Senator Druker said they submitted the motions to create exceptions in funding because ASWU has yet to establish a Senate Committee of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to actually approve anti-racism plans submitted by clubs, and because: “[Hawaii Club and JSU] are important cultural resources that keep students connected to ways of life that are very difficult to maintain at an occasionally homogenous institution like Willamette… [Missing] a major cultural or religious event is not the same issue as missing an entertainment event or tournament.” They continued, saying that denying funding for cultural organizations in this case punishes “specific intersection of students for the (in)actions of an organization's leadership.”

Senators can override the veto with a two-thirds majority vote in the next ASWU meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Mar. 4. Students can watch the meeting [over Zoom].

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