Whitman the Translucent?

The sudden appearance of signs outside Memorial and suit-clad strangers made one thing quite clear: the Trustees have arrived.

Though Whitman students have always been active members of their college community, recent calls for transparency signal students’ desire for an even deeper involvement in the college. Whether in circulating surveys, on the Pioneer’s front page, or with statistics on posters, the buzzword engages diverse groups in campus-wide discussion.

This week, the beginning of the 2016 Global Studies Symposium, “Human Zoos: Photography, Race, and Empire,” involved students, faculty, and visiting professors in a conversation regarding the roots of racism. As explained in a widely distributed petition and Pioneer articles, faculty and students alike were surprised by the revocation of course releases for professors on the Global Studies Steering Committee. Over three hundred community members called for the “transparent and inclusive” consideration of the Symposium, leading to an ASWC Resolution that expressed support for Global Studies. While an enlightening experience on its own, the Symposium also serves as a reminder of student-administration disconnects over the role of transparency.

In December, ASWC Vice President Arthur Shemitz hosted a Town Hall dedicated to ascertaining the tangible goals and concerns related to transparency. Shemitz explored how “[t]ransparency is a really perennial issue” due to “consequential decisions [that] have been made” without consulting students. Nevertheless, Shemitz added, “students are involved when Trustees come to town” through their participation on governing boards. Though the lack of a working microphone at this event complicated the conversation, students’ desire for greater representation remained clear.

In addition to conceptualizing ways for the Board to increase transparency, ASWC invites all students to apply for a position on a college committee or governing board; each board deliberates on a certain facet of Whitman College, student-related or administrative, and meets with the Board of Trustees biannually. Email a resume and cover letter to aswc_nominations@whitman.edu to apply for open governing board positions Of course, students can always contact aswc@whitman.edu with any suggestions or concerns.

Senate Reconvenes for Spring Semester

In a prompt start to the Spring Semester, ASWC’s Senate convened on Sunday to discuss club leadership, support Slam Poetry, and confirm a new Ombudsperson. President Percival celebrated ASWC coverage in the Union Bulletin about a Resolution’s “sex assault legislation opposition” as well as myWhitman’s newly added pre-registration form about preferred gender pronouns. He also introduced a “tri-college collaboration” with Walla Walla University and Walla Walla community college. Sustainability Director Dani Hupper, meanwhile, anticipated the growth of the Bike Share Program and progress on upcoming carbon tax legislation. The first-year delegation reported on their participation in a Mascot Working Group and outreach to other Panel 13 colleges.

Josie Furbershaw, ASWC’s Club Director, reviewed a survey of twenty-nine student clubs to encourage greater support of student organizations. She noted their appreciation of strong core membership and organized communication, and mentioned that many desired more funding and increased attendance. Ultimately, Furbershaw called upon Senators to communicate with and assist their three to four assigned clubs.

Senate welcomed Almighty Ink and approved funding for their attendance of CUPSI, a national college slam poetry competition. In addition to hosting upwards of sixty colleges in a competitive capacity, CUPSI offers writing sessions and promotes social awareness. Whitman’s team is intent on “bringing positive energy back to [the] school,” and Paige Dempsey graciously performed a polished poem for the Senate. For the first time in Senate history, two Senators were equally eligible for the position of Ombudsperson because they have served the same number of semesters on ASWC. Following substantial debate regarding the voting process, incumbent Ombudsman Mitch Cutter was elected to serve his second semester. Cutter affirmed the importance of continuity and looks forward to scheduling more one-on-one’s with Senate members.

The Senate Concludes the Fall Season

At its final Senate of the season, ASWC continued to actively pursue the improvement of the College, discussing new legislature and reviewing the year thus far. As well as wishing the Senate a Happy Hanukah, Arthur Shemitz described his continued work on campus safety, and Anya Tudisco announced the upcoming “Walla Wallet” Finance blog. Jon Miranda, head of the Oversight Committee, distributed surveys to investigate “what [ASWC] accomplished, what they did right, [and] what they could improve” in the coming months. President Jack Percival expressed his optimism that  all of ASWC’s recommendations to the President’s Budget Advisory Committee “will go through.” Meanwhile, the Class Delegations described their goals and accomplishments, from Emma Bishop’s survey on the Whitman mascot to Gillian Friedman’s work with the Student Engagement Center.

For the first time in a decade, a sitting Whitman College President addressed the ASWC senate. President Kathy Murray explained a her “first impression” of Whitman and provided some updates regarding the direction of the College. Issues such as the Global Studies Program, school mascot and budget deficit arose in a lively conversation between President Murray and the students present.

Read more

Minute by Minute

Though summaries and email updates often give adequate updates on ASWC’s doings, more exact details — who said what, how the votes fell, and why decisions were made — appear in the Senate Minutes. Like many formal gatherings, ASWC Senate meetings use Robert’s Rules of Order, a system of dialogue often used in governing groups to organize the proceedings. 

Every other week, the ASWC Senate meets at 7:00 Sunday evening in Memorial 321; anyone from the Whitman community can attend and even add their name to the Speakers’ List. After taking attendance and bringing the meeting to order, the President calls for a motion to approve the precious Senate’s minutes — except in the case of a roll call vote, a voting member of ASWC makes a motion that must be seconded and then approved by a majority of voting members present.

Read more

Anya Tudisco, Finance Chair (Part 1)

Anya

Last week, Senior Anya Tudisco, Chair of ASWC’s Finance Committee, sat down with ASWC Unpacked to discuss her position and time in ASWC. The Seattle native described her participation in ASWC as the greatest influence on her experience at Whitman.  She is always willing to discuss students’ ideas at aswc_finance@whitman.edu

ASWC Unpacked: Why did you initially join ASWC?

Tudisco: That’s actually an interesting question — it was kind of […] a whim. Something that drew me to Whitman in the first place was that everyone seemed involved and engaged in what was happening on campus; I wanted to be a part of that energy. So, I was looking for ways to do that when I got here, and I knew that I was going to be involved in music and classes, but beyond that I wasn’t really sure. […] I went to a presentation at Cordiner for first-years and heard some of the upperclassmen speak about [ASWC,] and saw that student government here isn’t at all what it was in high school. It sounded like they were talking about issues that actually mattered to students and life on a college campus, and I felt like it would be a good use of my time. So I put together a silly campaign, and [the election] worked out. I also met a couple of upperclassmen […] to talk about ASWC. I met with [Tatiana Kaehler], who was here last year.  That was how we first became friends: I asked her on a weird coffee date and we talked about ASWC and Finance. And I was like, “Fun! She seems great, this seems great…” And I haven’t regretted.

Read more

Senate the Fourth

Sunday’s Senate began promptly at 7:00 PM with a flurry of discussion, culminating in debate over the role of the Resolution. Vice President Arthur Shemitz and President Jack Percival recalled their presentation to the Trustees during which they highlighted campus safety, preferred gender pronouns, and the Global Studies Initiative. President Percival solicited feedback on ASWC’s budget priorities for a meeting with the budget advisory committee. He planned to request additional funds for the Bike Share Program, Power and Privilege Symposium, and FGWC (First Generation and Working Class) fly-in pre orientation. After reviewing club budgets, Arthur Shemitz, AnnaMarie McCorvie and Jon Miranda worked towards drafting a new by-law concerning Campus Media Organizations’ purchases of personal items such as pens and stickers. Mitch Cutter updated the Senate on his investigations into college transparency, possible carbon taxes and transforming Reid into a community space with a “restaurant-that-serves-alcohol feel.”

ASWC ratified the Whitman Socialist Front after what Arthur Shemitz praised as “one of the most impressive presentations I’ve ever seen.” Club founder Brynn Louise explained that the Whitman Socialist Front “intends to educate the community” about socialism and “bring[…] about an… egalitarian society.” The club hopes to collaborate with other ideologically similar groups on campus, such as FACE and the Black Student Union.

Yu Jian Wang and NoahLani Nitwinsella, members of Whitman’s Moot Court team, received funding to attend a Moot Court competition in Anaheim, California. Wang emphasized how Moot Court allows students to practice reading case files “as long as a Biology textbook,” an especially valuable opportunity for students interested in law.

Sophomore Dan Pailthorp joined the Student Life Committee upon ASWC’s unanimous confirmation. The committee, according to Nominations Chair AnnaMarie McCorvie, “makes non-academic, non-disciplinary changes, and works, for example, on gender diversity.” Pailthorp intends to increase the diversity of voices addressing the Global Studies Initiative and other ongoing issues; he believes that “through these types of conversations, Whitman can be a campus that communicates more.”

Following recent horrific events in Paris, first-year Senator Caroline Bauwens wrote a Resolution extending support to the people of France. However, the Senate expressed concern over the implications of its passage, and chose to remand it (send it back) to the Student Affairs Committee. Finance Chair Anya Tudisco questioned whether “this is the sort of issue Whitman should be taking a stance on” through with a Resolution. First-year Senator Ben Cosgrove stated his discomfort with “supporting one country over another.” Vice President Arthur Shemitz encouraged the Senate to show its sympathy and support for the French by attending last Monday’s candlelight vigil.

Bike Share Intern — Hiring through November 29th

Bike

Cycling enthusiast? Passionate about sustainability? ASWC Sustainability Director Dani Hupper and Sustainability Coordinator Tristan Sewell are sponsoring an internship for Whitman’s soon-to-be revitalized Bike Share program. Until November 29th, interested students can apply for the chance to maintain bicycles, re-write a participant contract, establish user feedback, and more for a salary of $10/hour. Interns will be expected to work roughly four hours per week beginning next Spring. Please send questions, resumes, and cover letters to: aswc_nominations@whitman.edu

In Whitman we Trust

Last Thursday, ASWC President Jack Percival and Vice President Arthur Shemitz met with the Board of Trustees during their on-campus meeting. The students’ presentation, a yearly tradition for ASWC leaders, centered around the ideas and initiatives of the Whitman student body. The ASWC Unpacked blog, as per its titular duty, interviewed Percival and Shemitz to unpack their recent meeting.

AU: What is the Board of Trustees, and what is the purpose of their on-campus meeting?

Percival: The Board of Trustees is a group of people who are prominent in their field and who have a strong stake and interest in Whitman College and the liberal arts education that Whitman provides. These are people who are alumni, who are parents, [or] are just invested in the college without any affiliation beyond that interest. The Board has two major responsibilities. The first is that they hire and evaluate the President, which is a big deal because that person is responsible for managing the college […] Two, they have sole financial control over the college. They control the budget; they ensure that the endowment will exist in perpetuity to support students in the college […] The purpose of their on-campus meeting is for them to get updates from various staff about the day-to-day decisions that they’re not involved in… They make big decisions regarding finances [and] the direction of the college, and it’s important for them to all be in the room for those causes.

Read more

Senate, Round Three

Though shorter than usual, Sunday’s Senate had no shortage of productive decisions. During updates, Finance Chair Anya Tudisco raised concerns about the budget deficit due to under enrollment at Whitman this year. Nominations Chair AnnaMarie McCorvie encouraged upperclassmen to apply for the currently incomplete Registrar’s committee. Oversight Chair Jon Miranda and Clubs Director Josie Furbershaw sought to clarify the budget use and identity of clubs, respectively. Concluding the meeting’s opening comments, Ombudsman Mitch Cutter and Senator Skye Vander Laan raised the possibility of opening a campus bar.

McCorvie introduced Jackie Greisen, who was confirmed as the newest member of the Bon Appétit Advisory Committee in a 17-0-2 vote. Greisen’s experience in the food service industry and focus on sustainability secured her the position; she aims to “make sure there’s less food waste” and expand dining hall hours. The Senate was especially impressed by Greisen’s selection of the avocado as her spirit vegetable.

President Arthur Shemitz discussed the Global Studies Initiative, commenting that it had “consumed [him and] President Jack Percival over the course of the past two weeks.” Percival outlined the Initiative, describing its enrichment of professors’ teaching and research. He explained that Dean of Faculty Pat Spencer temporarily suspended course releases (which exempt participating professors from teaching one class), leading to tension The Senate passed Resolution SRF 15.2, which advocates for the Initiative and how it broadens Whitman’s focus and supports students of color.

Sustainability director Dani Hupper successfully acquired funding to compensate an intern for Whitman’s bike share program. Hupper emphasized the program’s need for revitalization and promised that she is “not just going to hire any noob.” The intern will be tasked with the organization, advertisement and upkeep of the program.

ASWC awarded the Drama Club $500 in contingency funds to support its expanding membership and student-run plays. Representative Dan Lovato expressed excitement for the club’s attendance of the Ashland Shakespeare Festival, where students will “experience what the world of theater is like.”

To conclude, ASWC President Jack Percival relayed his intentions to discuss preferred gender pronoun use, campus safety and the Global Studies Initiative with the Board of Trustees.

Town Hall: Community & Safety

IMG_2626

Whether they focus on a specific issue or address a broad range of ideas, Whitman’s Town Hall meetings have proven promising for community growth. These ASWC-hosted events facilitate discussion about the student body’s concerns. On October 20, Student Affairs Committee Chair Arthur Shemitz led the first Town Hall of the semester in the basement of Reid Campus Center. Armed with pumpkin pie bars and hot apple cider, ASWC representatives and club leaders  focused on campus safety. The meeting  also touched on improving iEngage, changing the college mascot and using PGPs (preferred gender pronouns).

Shemitz brought up recent incidents of drive-by racial harassment and break-ins, explaining that ASWC “want[s] to be able to resolve [and] to look for solutions” to the issues. Though all safety concerns are alarming, Shemitz expressed concern that the incidents have “disproportionately targeted people who are already minorities on campus.” Attendees then broke into smaller groups to address these questions: What would you do if you felt unsafe? If you were not on campus, whom would you call? Whose responsibility is it to address an unsafe situation? To whom at Whitman would you feel comfortable talking about issues of security?

While most students knew that “yellow jackets” are on-campus security escorts rather than flying insects, few people in attendance knew how to actually make use of the service. First-year Senator Shannon Zander said that many of her peers “don’t know how far campus security should, or does, extend,” and consequently do not call. Others emphasized destigmatizing its use — students often feel hesitant to contact campus security unless in immediate danger.

Junior Senator Gordon Kochman suggested “creating different ways to get out information” such as a workshop or extensive poster and email advertising. Sexual Misconduct Prevention Advocate Katie Steen echoed upper-level students’ concerns regarding off-campus housing. Steen proposed making workshops required for students who want to join the Whitman off-campus housing lottery. Additionally, Town Hall attendees broached the topic of campus lighting, particularly highlighting the darkness in the Interest House Community.

In response, Senior Senator Anna von Clemm proposed “creating — sorry AnnaMarie — a committee of sorts” to communicate with campus security. Nominations Chair AnnaMarie McCorvie assured the group of her passion for creating committees. Senator Caroline Bauwens suggested supplementing first-year orientation by “extend[ing] the meaning of ‘Green Dotting’ to after a party.”

In closing, Dean of Students Chuck Cleveland reminded attendees that “if you’re in danger, you should call 911″ rather than second-guess the role and location of campus security. Regarding off-campus safety, Cleveland emphasized the need for students to report immediately  any situations that arise.

The next Town Hall will be held on December 9th at 7:00 PM in the Reid Coffeehouse.