Though all of ASWC strives to connect to the student body, the Student Affairs Committee specifically helps students improve Whitman through legislation. According to chair Arthur Shemitz, the committee “make[s] changes to the student body” by writing and approving acts and resolutions for the Senate to review.
Resolutions serve as condensed persuasive essays that verbalize the opinions of ASWC and the student body, giving their vision for the future of Whitman College. Last year’s passed resolutions included calls for trigger warnings in the first-year Encounters program and divestment of Whitman’s assets from the fossil fuel industry.
Whereas resolutions are formal declarations released to the student body and often presented to the Whitman College Board of Trustees, acts effect change within the scope of ASWC’s power . They often modify or streamline the ASWC bylaws, which govern how ASWC operates. At the first Student Affairs meeting, the committee reviewed Act SAS 15.10, which extends the voting period and was passed at the October 4th Senate meeting. Despite Shemitz’s promise that the Student Affairs meeting would not be “tense or anything,” a notably deep discussion followed concerning how the voting period affects voter turnout.
Beyond discussion of the Act, committee members also presented their individual projects, which caused conversation about initiating communication with Intercultural Clubs, proposing changes in the Power and Privilege Symposium, and considering charitable uses of flex dollars. Shemitz proposed the institution of an “ASWC hour,” a time that committee members set aside in their schedule to do ASWC work, essentially treating it like an “ASWC class” that they “attend” every week. He urged committee members to “come out of meetings with a concrete plan of what to do next” and stressed their ability to “pursue the issues that need to be resolved.”
Every student attending Whitman College can write legislation, and ASWC encourages any interested student, whether with ideas or drafts, to reach out to the members of the Student Affairs Committee (along with any other ASWC members): Arthur Shemitz ‘17, Gillian Friedman ‘16, Tom Howe ‘17, Gordan Kochmann ‘17, Emily Bowen ‘18, Emma Bishop ‘18, Caroline Bauwens ‘19, and Shannon Zander ‘19. More information regarding how to write acts and resolutions or otherwise get involved in ASWC is forthcoming.