Do you know your dorm senator? Do you know who the vice president of ASWU is? Most students are unaware of the members who make up ASWU and the immense power that they hold. The body serves as a bridge between students and administration and many issues that impact students are decided by them. ASWU encompasses a wide variety of individuals who represent different perspectives of students on campus. These 30 or so individuals are elected or hired to serve as the overall voice for the student body, which is comprised of around 2,200 people. Such a small percentage of individuals maintain power on issues that influence all of us on varying levels.
Every semester, each student makes a mandatory payment of $110 in order for concerts, campus programs and more to take place, which ASWU also handles. These individuals hold the power to determine what events will happen, what clubs will be given what resources and how much of the administration’s actions will be shared with students. For example, ASWU members are often the first to know about administrative decisions or tentative future plans. Along with this, ASWU members are often the student representatives on a variety of committees around Whitworth.
This board firmly believes that students need to become more familiar with the role of ASWU on campus and become more knowledgeable about what’s going on. There are plenty of ways to be clued into what is taking place in the chambers; the first one being the open meeting held every week.
Students are invited every week to join ASWU on Wednesday nights to learn about what the issues that are of concern to the campus. ASWU even bribes students with a free meal if they attend. Also, each week in The Whitworthian, there is a breakdown of everything that was discussed in the ASWU meeting the previous week if people are not able to go. This year, a video version of the discussion has also been implemented to cater to those who dislike reading and to adapt to a social media era.
Just as there are checks and balances in the government for a reason, students are responsible for holding ASWU accountable in many ways. Since such a small body serves as the voice for many, it is crucial that they be held under a microscope to a certain extent. If students aren’t aware of what is taking place in the chambers, information could be withheld or distorted and decisions could be made that don’t reflect the perspectives of the students. Although these people were elected by the student body for a reason, they are still humans who make mistakes. If we fail to check in on them, we run the risk of giving trust blindly and having it backfire.
Over the course of a month, ASWU discussed transparency, the issue of disclosing information passed down from administration to students. Sparked by a speaker who asked information to be kept discreet in a public meeting, ASWU decided that a system needed to be put in place to ensure that information would not be kept from students. The four-week discussion eventually led to the decision of an executive session being held for sensitive information that ASWU needed to discuss. Executive sessions would only be open to elected ASWU officials; anything discussed in these sessions would not be revealed to the student body. This is an example of a decision that has been made that impacts students and hasn’t been widely publicized.
Your involvement and voice do not need to be limited to voting, whether the issues at hand are in Whitworth, your home state or the nation. In the same way that you can make your voice heard on local issues by contacting your senators or representatives, one of the easiest ways to ensure ASWU has the opportunity to hear your input is to contact the representative for your dorm or another ASWU member.
This board encourages you to remember how important it is to be informed. A lot comes into play here: your money, your school and, ultimately, your decisions.
Whitworthian Editoral Board
Contact the editorial board at firstname.lastname@example.org