Over the past few weeks, a number of ASWC Executive Council positions have gained some additional prestige – and responsibilities – as the Senate voted to elevate them from ordinary committee chair positions to co-Vice Presidents of the governing body.
Alongside the pre-existing Vice President position, now renamed Vice President of Legislative Affairs, three new positions – Vice President of Finance, Vice President of Nominations & Appointments and Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion – have now been formed from the former Finance Chair, Nominations Chair and Diversity & Inclusion Director positions. Alongside the departure of the WEB Chair from the Executive Council, this change represents a major step in the current body’s initiative to restructure themselves and their relationships with campus and trustees.
Vice President of Legislative Affairs Emily Bowen, who prior to the change had served as ASWC’s sole Vice President, expressed enthusiasm for the new model, noting that the move had been inspired by student governments of similar colleges and several Whitman clubs.
“I think [the new model] serves to do a lot of things,” Bowen said, “firstly taking the burden off of one person to fulfil the duties of the vice president, and secondly, sort of raising other positions up to… the same level.”
Bowen does not see her role as the chair of Legislative Affairs (formerly Student Affairs) as more important than being the chair of other ASWC committees, such as Finance, and felt attaching the role and responsibilities of a vice president to that position felt arbitrary. Those responsibilities included accompanying the President to all Board of Trustees meetings, hosting all ASWC Town Halls and presiding over Senate if the President is unable to do so. With the new model, said duties are now diffused over the heads of several committees; more ASWC members will be able to attend Board of Trustees meetings, while each Vice President will get to host their own Town Hall.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity to have more involvement with ASWC and the Board of Trustees, cause currently it’s kind of limited in that there are only two people going to these… meetings every year,” Bowen said. “I think the Board of Trustees are always looking for more engagement with students in any way that they can, and being able to have more people interact with the Board of Trustees will allow them to learn even more about our student body and issues of importance on campus.”
Additionally, Bowen hopes that the new Vice President positions will encourage more students to participate in the upcoming ASWC elections; while the positions are largely the same as they were prior to the name change, the significance attached to the title “Vice President” could be an encouraging factor.
“I think that it’s gonna be a good change,” Bowen said. “I think [the changes] will hopefully contribute to an ASWC model that… puts a lot of importance in these different areas… that are important to the way that the student government is able to work.”