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Two senators removed, bills passed during final Fall ‘21 ASWU meeting

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

Amaya Latuszek

Staff Writer

The last Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) Senate meeting for the Fall semester occurred on Dec. 9. The meeting focused on bills regarding conflicts of officership, transparent student government proceedings and committee representative responsibilities, as well as a closed session to remove two senators.

Vice President Angel Park (‘22) called the meeting to order at 7:15 p.m and started roll call. Senators Amanda Padgett (‘25) and Eliza Gonzalez (‘25) sent proxy’s Grace Jackson (‘25) and Madeleine Montanye (‘25) in their place for the meeting. Before the agenda was approved, Park read a letter of resignation from now former Senator Joseph Gomez (‘23).

Gomez started the letter with a lighthearted “Hey gamers” and stated he was resigning because he had “spent the last few weeks feeling rather overwhelmed with negative emotion… the majority of these negative feelings stem from my involvement with ASWU.” The letter took a turn however as Gomez ended his letter with a pleading message stating that “ASWU is in its twilight, we all can see it for one reason or another” and warned the senators to be wary of the righteous anger that has been present throughout the semester and claimed that ASWU is stuck in a vicious cycle that cannot be broken.

After Gomez’s letter, the agenda was approved and Officer Reports began, starting with President Giovanni Bautista (‘22). Bautista announced that the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee (EDI) will be opening applications for a new chair to serve on the committee next semester and the results of the investigation against the College Republicans will be announced on Dec. 15 as opposed to the previous date of Dec 8.

Treasurer Michael Burke (‘23) gave tentative plans to increase the student fee that funds ASWU and thus the clubs on campus. Burke will need to submit a request to Vice President of Student Affairs Lisa Landreman to increase the student fee and is hoping to get an answer once break is over. If that request is approved, it will get moved to the Senate for approval. Burke went on to say “our budget is tight, it's real, real tight. I’ve done some deep exploring into accounts to get as much money out of them as I possibly can.” Programs have gone through extensive budget cuts in order to support the short budget.

Chief Justice Alexander Knorr (‘22) stated in his report that the Judiciary will be going to formally hire two new justices for the upcoming semester. That is due to one justice's term expiring and another justice studying abroad. Knorr encouraged people to apply.

During Senate reports, Senator Cameron Cole (‘23) reported on behalf of the ASWU Trans Advocacy Committee in regards to the [town hall meeting] that occurred on Dec. 7. Cole expressed concern for the response given by Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Ruth Feingold at the meeting and said, “this insulting behavior only exacerbated student disillusionment with the administration not listening to students.” Senator Inéz Nieves (‘24), who was a moderator at the town hall meeting, read comment cards written by students present at the meeting. Many of the cards expressed surprise and confusion at Feingold's sudden exit and anger or frustration at what students saw as a failure to listen and lack of professionalism on the part of the administration. Nieves criticized Feingold for saying she "isn't paid to be here," pointing out that they and other students have overcome many difficulties, especially in an ongoing pandemic, to pay the dean's salary as part of Willamette tuition. They also compared student on-campus jobs' pay, benefits and expectations unfavorably to that of administrators. They demanded an apology from Feingold for her behavior at the town hall. Senator Hollis Mantle ('25) echoed Nieves' criticisms, saying she was seated next to Feingold during the town hall. Mantle said she heard Feingold scoff and roll her eyes throughout the meeting.

Old Business was then discussed with the first bill being the Bill to Solve Conflicts of Officership, which meant the Senate would vote on officership changes, passing with 10 ayes and 3 nays. Second, was the Bill to Establish Transparent Student Government Proceedings, which meant the clerk would record the names of senators who vote aye or nay on bills, passing unanimously. The third and final bill being discussed was the Bill to Amend Committee Representative Responsibilities, which would require committee members to submit a report to the Senate. The bill was tabled as too much time was being spent making changes to the bill and Mantel, one of the authors, felt time should be spent discussing the rest of the items on the agenda. More information on the bills can be found [here].

During New Business, the new Mill Stream Boardgames Collective was approved unanimously. Their mission statement is as follows: “The Millstream Board Games Collective seeks to provide a sense of community for students, offering a safe, equitable, and inviting space to enjoy tabletop games through play, conversation, and creation.”

The Resolution to Renew the Trans Advocacy Committee until Feb. 10 was approved unanimously, along with the Resolution to Deposit Funding into the Unallocated ASWU Accounts and the Pre-Spring funding round. The Resolution to Deposit Funding into the Unallocated ASWU Accounts takes six thousand from the Collegiate Readership Fund to help the ASWU spring budget. The readership fund pays for a New York Times subscription for each student, paying six thousand each year. The account previously was to last ten years but with the reallocation will now last nine.

Then came time for the closed removal hearing in which the Senate would discuss and vote on a recall against Joseph Gomez (‘23), Kasey Englert (‘23) and Kaleb Raever (‘23). The petition gave reasoning for why the senators should be recalled: "Due to repeatedly ignoring the wishes [of] their student constituents, the willful obstruction of equity policy within ASWU sessions, and continued bias against trans students on campus, we call for the removal of Senators Joseph Gomez, Kasey Englert, and Kaleb Raever." ASWU has recently failed to pass [statements] in solidarity with transgender students with legislation in support of transgender students passing with [one] or [four] nay votes. At the start of the meeting, senators and petitioners were still unsure if the recall was going to occur as it previously was not on the agenda. It was only clarified four minutes after the meeting started that the recall was to occur. For a recall, members of the senators’ graduating class must collect 50 signatures, which are checked by the registrar. Following a successful petition, 2/3rd of the Senate must vote to remove the senators. As Gomez had already resigned, only the recall of Senators Englert and Raever was being discussed. At this time all guests had to leave, which included The Collegian. Petitioners who were present at the meeting were able to give a ten minute case as to why they support the recall and then had to leave for the remainder of the removal procedure. Senators could give a ten minute defense before leaving while the Senate deliberated and voted on their removal. Englert’s case was discussed first and Raever was still allowed to vote on his removal.

After about an hour, the deliberation was over with the Senate voting to remove Englert and Raever. Guests were allowed back inside to listen to the Good of the Order and the meeting was adjourned at 10:19 p.m.

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