• Collegian staff

Q&A with ASWU presidential candidates

Piper Lehr

Staff writer


Note: All presidential candidates were given the same questions. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name. Candidate Connor Robson had not replied to the Collegian at the time of publication, and his responses will be added to this post upon his reply.


Giovanni Bautista


In your opinion, what is the role of ASWU?


ASWU exists to serve students by representing and advocating for their needs, interests, and values. Through campus improvement projects, dialogues with administrators, support for students clubs and organizations, and communication with the student body, ASWU wields significant influence to improve the Willamette experience. As such, ASWU must be responsive and adaptive to the needs of the student body. To ensure ASWU is successful at this, ASWU needs a President that is experienced, committed to the Willamette community, and can collaborate effectively with student organizations and administrators.


What are you involved in on campus? How will your involvement influence your leadership role if you are elected?


I serve as a student representative on the College of Arts and Sciences Academic Council where I advocate for Willamette students’ interests during deliberation and votes on academic policies, programs, and standards—such as extending the credit/no credit deadline. I have learned about university governance, policies, and structures and how they shape the student experience. As ASWU President, I will draw on this experience to make these processes more accessible and transparent to students through consistent communication and through my appointments to different university committees.


I also have the honor of serving as an ASWU Senator for the Class of 2022 and taking part in important discussions on issues that impact the student body like anti-racism and the university’s response to the ice storm. As ASWU President, I will continue and expand the important work of ASWU on anti-racism, student representation and advocacy, and ensuring student organizations have the resources and support they need.


Additionally, as a resident advisor, I work hard alongside more than 30 dedicated RAs to foster a safe and inclusive community for all on-campus student residents. As ASWU President, I will ensure the voices of resident advisors and other student workers are represented during important discussions such as further reopening campus.


What would be your number one priority as ASWU president?


Many students lead busy lives juggling academics, extracurriculars, work, and establishing connections with their peers on campus. As ASWU President, I will work hard to ensure students are informed on what is going on at different levels of their university, how it impacts them, and how they can help shape their campus experience. I will do this through consistent communication with the student body through social media and town halls where I will share important updates and seek student input. Additionally, I will encourage student participation in university committees through a transparent appointment process and I will coordinate with other organizations to ensure students are aware of the resources available to them.


How do you plan to support ASWU initiatives such as restructuring, anti-racism plans, developing a code of conduct, etc?


ASWU must reflect the interests and values of the student body. As ASWU President, I will support initiatives like restructuring, anti-racism, and developing a code of conduct by seeking student input to ensure that these initiatives reflect the interests and values of the student body. I will also lead by example by adhering to the values and changes made as a result of these initiatives. Furthermore, I will work with administrators, university departments, and student organizations on ASWU initiatives that are larger, campus-wide conversations like anti-racism.


Zeke Druker


In your opinion, what is the role of ASWU?


The role of ASWU is relentless advocacy for the student body on every level for every issue. We, as representatives of our constituents, hold the administration accountable, participate in the University's shared governance, and fight for student welfare at every opportunity. ASWU is at its best when we are listening to students about what they need, and taking their concerns to the administration and whoever else can help them. That's the most rewarding part--when a student feels empowered because you've helped them navigate the system and make themself heard. I hope that, as President, I get to keep doing that for folks.


What are you involved in on campus? How will your involvement influence your leadership role if you are elected?


I've been fortunate to be involved in a number of ways on campus. Currently, I'm working closely with the Restorative Justice Coalition on producing a zine about pregnancies in the prison system, and have been working on setting up a bail fund. I also founded the Student Solidarity Union, which is a student group focused on building solidarity in our wider communities through mutual aid and activism. I'm also a practicing Jew and greatly enjoy our community and fellowship in the Jewish Student Union. My involvement will influence my leadership in reminding me where a sense of belonging and community and the drive for change actually comes from--dedicated students working hard for the things they believe in. I hope I get to honor that dedication as President.


What would be your number one priority as ASWU president?


My number one priority would be fighting for student workers--ASWU has a lot of potential in many important fields, but when it comes down to it, my top priority has to be what affects many students' ability to pay rent, get groceries, and support their education. While the University is going through serious financial challenges, I feel that my experience on the Budget Advisory Council and elsewhere in the Senate is crucial to presenting a robust case to the administration that student labor is vital to the University and needs to be compensated and increased accordingly. Student labor is, furthermore, a critical equity issue, and I want to ensure that the administration matches the equity commitments that we've made in the Senate this year.


How do you plan to support ASWU initiatives such as restructuring, anti-racism plans, developing a code of conduct, etc?


As the only Presidential candidate currently in the Senate committee on restructuring, and as the senator who wrote the anti-racism requirements for student organizations and helped to write ASWU's anti-racism plan, I think I'm uniquely qualified to support these initiatives. Institutional knowledge is key to long-lasting and truly structural reform, and the only way to get that knowledge is sheer effort--serving on committees, reading and understanding the governing documents, meeting with the Judicial branch, and doing the hard work of understanding how ASWU's many structures came to function as they do. Restructuring ASWU is about making a student government that is more accountable to the people it represents, and I think I have the record of success and the dedication to go further when it comes to these changes.


Oliver Kushen


In your opinion, what is the role of ASWU?


The role of ASWU in my opinion, is to act as a voice for the student body in the administration while also taking into account the feedback and opinions of ALL Willamette students.


What are you involved in on campus? How will your involvement influence your leadership role if you are elected?


I am a member of the dining advisory committee, IFC, a former ASWU Senator, and a former student athlete as well as a member of SAAC.


What would be your number one priority as ASWU president?


My number one priority would be transparency. Too often the administration does not effectively communicate to the student body and the Willamette community ends up paying the price.


How do you plan to support ASWU initiatives such as restructuring, anti-racism plans, developing a code of conduct, etc?


I plan on supporting restructuring by possibly going even farther then what has already been done. Anti-racism policies are also something I plan on fully supporting. The recent hate crime that happened on campus is very disturbing and it is important that we do what is needed to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.


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