Special Senate

To the delight of all involved, ASWC held a “special Senate” this past Sunday to discuss Divestment, debate campaigning rules, and plan for the upcoming year. While Sexuality Misconduct Prevention Advocate Katie Steen promoted her sex-positive “Sextravaganza” week (which commences on Saturday, April 30th) ASWC President Jack Percival announced that the Board of Trustees will hold an on-campus meeting this week. In his presentation to the Board, Percival plans to discuss work-study programs, the Pioneer’s name change, WIDE’s new strategic plan, and the possibility of Divestment.

After welcoming the group “to this weird Senate,” Nominations Chair AnnaMarie McCorvie oversaw the confirmation of Olivia Barry as Whitman Events Board Chair. Though currently studying abroad, Barry’s excitement and aptitude under stress became clear in her and Olivia Hagel’s messages to the Senate.

McCorvie then introduced Danica Wilbanks, Mickey Shin, and Zoe Lahaie as the future Editors-in-Chief and Publisher of Waiilatpu. Despite lingering concerns over the yearbook’s new fall release schedule and lack of a business model, the leaders’ abundant passion won over the senate. Additionally, Zoe Lahaie announced possibly changing the yearbook’s name, due to the misappropriation of the term “Waiilatpu” from the Cayuse people.

Oversight Chair Jon Miranda led the Senate in considering sanctions for two groups of Junior Senate candidates who continued to campaign during the voting period (which is prohibited). Although Miranda strongly advocated for the candidates’ disqualification and NoahLani Nitwinsella argued that “disqualification is the only option for a sanction,” the Senate carefully considered the implication of such action; Executive Director of Communications Abby Seethoff weighed the impact of ASWC seeming “too harsh” versus “too soft.” After much debate, the Senate took the advice of Finance Chair Anya Tudisco and put the offending parties on probation.

Previously tabled Resolution SRS16.2 returned to Senate in a different format, which advocates that the Trustees issue an updated official response to Divestment. Anya Tudisco expressed her full support for the resolution and Senator Mitch Cutter even suggested adoption by acclamation, though Senator Caroline Bauwens rejected the motion. Still, the resolution passed unanimously in time for the Trustees’ visit.

Finally, the Senate quickly and unanimously passed Act SAS16.3, legislation written by Executive Director of Communications Abby Seethoff that thoroughly documents the responsibilities of her Committee.

“Knocking’s Good”

In the intended penultimate Senate of the 2015-2016 school year, ASWC focused on transitioning into the upcoming year, continuing to pursue long-term projects, and wrapping up smaller initiatives. President-elect Arthur Shemitz promoted applications for Executive Council positions, and thanked students for their input on the Socially Responsible Investment Framework Working Group’s latest policy draft. Anya Tudisco, on the other hand, plans to bring her Finance Committee’s Final Budget to the last Senate meeting of the semester.  Incumbent Nominations Chair AnnaMarie McCorvie and her committee hired student representatives for governing boards and student committees. In his last weeks as ASWC President, Jack Percival is ready to usher the Executive Council into a new year and meet with the Trustees at their late April meeting.

Senate quickly passed Act SAS16.10, which allows club Budget Managers to serve as ASWC Senators. Finance Chair Tudisco, assuring ASWC members that this change offered no “opportunity for embezzlement,” heralded the Act for providing new avenues for student involvement.

Chief Diversity Officer Kazi Joshua attended Senate to present about the progress of the Whitman College Inclusion Diversity and Equity Council (WIDE), which published a draft of their Strategic Plan. Following the release of the Campus Climate Survey’s results, WIDE will consider the response to three central questions: “(1) Is anything missing? (2) Is anything mistaken? (3) What can we add?” From there, Kazi and WIDE will strive to create a more inclusive campus environment, including expanding options for investigations and installing a campus Ombudsperson.

AnnaMarie McCorvie oversaw the nomination of Christy Carley to the Academic Affairs Committee, where the well-spoken student will exercise her passion for making “bigger picture decisions” and communicating with students. Senate also confirmed Lily Monsey and Hillary Smith as co-editors of campus literary magazine blue moon. Both hope to increase the magazine’s accessibility and inclusivity while continuing its celebration of Whitman’s artistic community. KWCW also experienced a change in leadership, with Cillian Mitchell and Alicia Burr stepping up as next year’s general managers. Mitchell seeks to make “it easier for anyone to be a DJ” and foster a stronger community at Whitman’s radio station. Finally, Senate approved the nomination of Marra Clay and Mitchell Smith as publisher and editor-in-chief, respectively, of the school newspaper formerly known as the Pioneer. Ombudsperson Mitch Cutter commended Clay’s success in working with students, faculty, and alumni “with much aplomb.” Though abroad, Smith still conveyed his excitement for the job, citing “high expectations for a high-impact year.”

Arthur Shemitz and AnnaMarie McCorvie jointly introduced Acts SAS16.7, SAS16.8, and SAS17.8, which substantially update the Nomination Committee’s by-laws. Under the changes, the Committee will focus more on liaisoning between CMOs, governing boards, and students.

As the Senate moved to consider allowing the college newspaper to change its name, Memorial 331 filled with student journalists wearing paper hats and carrying signs to lend their support to the newspaper. Sarah Cornett and Jessica Faunt expressed their concerns about Oversight’s ruling on the change, arguing that the decision set a precedent of limiting free expression. Oversight Director Jon Miranda, however,  assured the room that their choice did not represent “an attempt to defund the Pioneer.” In the end, the Senate unanimously agreed with Marra’s claim that “a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet,” amending the by-laws to allow for a future name change.

The senate also unanimously passed Act SAS16.6, which formalizes the position of “Publisher” within Waiilatpu leadership. However, ASWC members rejected Resolution SRS16.2, which requested that the Board of Trustees issue a formal response to Divest Whitman. President Jack Percival called a Special Senate for this upcoming Sunday the 23rd, where ASWC will discuss a revised version of the resolution.

We All Scream (for Transparency)

Though it occurred over a month ago, the latest Town Hall’s topic of transparency remains just as pertinent today. Vice President Arthur Shemitz launched a large-group discussion with an overview of ASWC’s goals and accomplishments, including the success of his Personal Gender Pronoun initiative and the Bike Share Program revitalization. As well as noting that “transparency is really a perennial issue” of student concern, Shemitz acknowledged a large gap between “what is being done and what we know about what is being done.” On the other hand, he urged students to consider that the “complex tightrope” of evaluating which decisions should take student input into account.

Immediately following, President Jack Percival took the stage to present on the larger structure of Whitman College. With the aid of a graphic by ASWC Graphic Designer Dorothy Mukasa, Percival illuminated the complex system of committees and interactions that supports this institution. Though a complete analysis would require hours rather than minutes, President Percival’s clarification equipped Town Hall attendees to conduct more in-depth conversations.

As always, Town Hall attendees learned how to make an impact on their communities through engagement with ASWC. Voting periods for Executive Council seats and Senator positions, for example, open on April 10th and 20th, respectively.

Senate Goes to the Ball

Thanks to ASWC Executive Director of Communications Abby Seethoff, the ASWC Senate last met in Reid Ballroom to provide a welcoming environment for visitors. As usual, the Executive Council began Senate by updating ASWC on their committees’ endeavors. Finance Chair Anya Tudisco welcomed questions and suggestions for the Finance committee’s upcoming budgeting meeting. Jon Miranda, head of the Oversight Committee, encouraged ASWC members to campaign for or vote in another upcoming event—ASWC’s elections! Current President Jack Percival continues to advocate for student interests, recently urging faculty to cancel classes for the next three Power & Privilege Symposiums.

Read more

Post-Sundae Sunday

Following a Town Hall brimming with ice cream sundaes and talk of Transparency, Senate met again to discuss upcoming events and initiatives. Finance Committee Chair Anya Tudisco announced the launch of the “Walla Wallet” blog, where students and student organization talk about their use of T+SD funds. Oversight Chair Jon Miranda heralded upcoming ASWC elections: Executive Council elections are April 10-11 and voting for senator races, for which we still need candidates, will happen April 20-21. Whitman students can now rent bikes from the library thanks to Noah Edelson, the first Bike Share Program Intern. ASWC President Jack Percival updated the senate on “dealing with Pio shenanigans” and working with Tony Cabasco to explore Whitman’s standardized test requirement.

After singing “Happy Birthday” to first-year senator Erin Lopez, the Senate considered ratifying the Young Democrats’ Club. Though all club meeting attendees have thus far been “fervent Bernie supporters,” co-Presidents Mateo and James described their group’s goal as simply “provid[ing] resources” for political engagement. Concerns about the club’s longevity notwithstanding, the Senate agreed with its belief that Whitman “needs more of a political voice” and ratified the club.

Nominations Chair AnnaMarie McCorvie oversaw the successful confirmation of Kincaid Hoffman, Kanupria Sanu, and Samuel Reddy to the President’s Budget Advisory Committee (Reddy also joined the Budget Governing Board Committee). All three nominees demonstrated strong leadership skills and experience in the financial sector, whether as Kappa Alpha Beta budget manager or a Goldman-Sachs asset manager. Anya Tudisco and Skye Vander Laan, current Advisory Committee members, offered their advice and support for the trio and advised them that they are about to embark on a stressful—though rewarding—journey.

Chris Meabe, Budget Manager for the Interest House Community, visited Senate to relate his discovery of significant budget mismanagement during the Fall 2015 semester due to a lack of communication. In response to Meabe’s investigation and creation of a more reliable  system of reporting spending, the Senate awarded the IHC $550 to provide for its programming needs.

Leaders of the upcoming Red Rocks climbing group received funding for gas expenses for their Spring Break trip, while Oversight Chair Jon Miranda explained that Waiilatpu yearbooks can be distributed in the fall based on his interpretation of ASWC’s by-laws. Despite Nomination Chair McCorvie’s desire to “open a discussion” about the change’s logistical impact, the Senate decided to keep conversation germane to Miranda’s decision.

Student Life Committee Chair Arthur Shemitz introduced Act SAS 16.4, which reauthorizes the Power and Privilege Symposium for 2017. Shemitz described the Symposium as “a young thing that is constantly evolving”; this year, hiring procedures and group organizations underwent revision.

To conclude March 6th’s Senate, Tudisco reported ASWC’s remaining budget and Percival noted that only three Senate meetings remain.

Note: In an ASWC first, Chris Meabe stayed at Senate after his request was discussed and even asked a question regarding the Waiilatpu budget; the whole of Senate very much appreciated his interest.