Sunday’s Senate, in Seconds

As the song  “Cupid Shuffle” faded out, ASWC representatives gathered for the year’s second Senate.

During Senate updates, ASWC’s committees continued to prove their productivity and commitment. Anya Tudisco, chair of the Finance Committee,  solicited advice on the use of ASWC’s Savings Fund, a sum of unused ASWC budget money that now exceeds $20,000.  Nominations Chair AnnaMarie McCorvie enthusiastically presented the new College Advisory Committees, including a potential Athletics committee. Club Director Josie Furbershaw discussed her work on revising club constitutions and supporting club leaders. Since the last senate meeting, Katie Steen worked with SVP (Sexual Violence Prevention) representatives from the Greek community, while Jack Percival met with President Kathy Murray about student safety.

Max Hanson urged ASWC to ratify WhitCity as a recognized club, emphasizing its “goal of getting students out to games… and engaged in the Whitman college athletics atmosphere.” ASWC Senators agreed that WhitCity is an effective way to increase support for varsity athletics and ratified the club  16-2-1. However, Gillian Friedman, Olivia Hagel and Anya Tudisco spoke for many ASWC representatives when expressing frustration over the quickness of the decision, which was put to a vote without a formal debate. Hagel saw the minimal deliberation time as contrary to what Senate is “supposed to be about,” especially in light of WhitCity’s unclear funding strategies.

The Borders Studies program requested $500 from the Travel  and Student Development fund to support an excursion  to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center to converse with activists, detainees and immigration lawyers. ASWC unanimously decided to fund the trip.

ASWC also confirmed Mitch Cutter and Alex Barsher as members of the new Buildings and Grounds College Committee. Cutter, a self-proclaimed wearer of many hats,  pledged “to take those garments and put them into [the] job” by focusing on sustainability and students’ input. Barsher emphasized the importance of “framing the right questions” to understand and speak for the college’s spirit.

Acts SAS 15.1 and 15.2 introduced a College Committee that will advise the Registrar’s Office, potentially about class selection, faculty hiring, and changes to the system of registering for classes. The Registrar’s office requested the committee be comprised of a student from each year and preferably from different disciplines of study. Because the Registrar’s Committee applications were distributed to the student body prior to this senate meeting even though the positions technically hadn’t been approved, Oversight Committee Chair Jon Miranda wryly  asked the Nominations Committee to “try to make sure things exists before [they] advertise them.”

Resolution SRF 15.1, drafted by Mitch Cutter, was adopted by acclamation (a unanimous vote that carries extra symbolic weight). The resolution “expresses support for the Umpqua Community College Community” following the tragic shooting of nine individuals on October 1st.

Finally, ASWC developed new speaking procedures to incorporate the ideas and opinions of non-voting members. Previously, “formal debate” only allowed voting members of ASWC to speak, leaving WEB chair Olivia Hagel and other non-voting members without a voice.  Ironically enough, a short debate led to the creation of “debate,” in which all ASWC representatives can speak, and “inclusive debate,” when everyone present can speak.  ASWC will implement these new categories of debate as a trial-run at the next Senate.

Committee Feature: Student Affairs

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.


First Senate Commences a Productive Year

Last Sunday, the ASWC Senate entered its first meeting of the 2015-16 school year to the tune of Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” As the music faded out, the formal dress code and prompt start reestablished the importance of the occasion.

To begin, the Executive Council presented a variety of ongoing initiatives, from Arthur Shemitz’s goal of connecting intercultural clubs to Dani Hupper’s push for a bike-share program. The Senior and Junior delegations trumpeted their success at Trivia Night, while the ever-passionate First-Years conveyed their continued interest in working with BonAppétit.

ASWC ratified the Whitman College Green Park Bi-Lingual Program, where Whitman students who speak Spanish mentor Green Park Elementary School students as they learn English. While already quite successful, the club hopes that ASWC recognition will facilitate its ability to collaborate with other on-campus groups and organize community events.

Additionally, the Senate ratified the Whitman Baking Club, which will donate bake sale profits to a variety of charities. Although some senators raised concerns about recognizing such a new club  (Ombudsman Mitchell Cutter commented that he “likes to see a club exist for a semester” before formally approving it), the Senate  ratified Baking Club unanimously.

Club Director Josie Furbershaw introduced this year’s Senator-Club Pairings , which give clubs a direct way to communicate with ASWC.

ASWC provided funding for the editors of Waiilatpu and four members of the Pioneer to attend the ACP’s National College Media Convention in Austin, Texas. Both campus media organizations emphasized the breadth and quality of training provided by the Convention. Waiilatpu co-editor Danica Wilbanks hopes that the workshops in leadership, photography, problem solving and design will help her lead the yearbook’s “large staff of energetic first-years” and improve the general structure of the publication. Marra Clay, publisher of the Pioneer, aims bring ACP back to the Whitman community by hosting all-campus journalism workshops upon her return.

Junior Dennis Young, praised for his exceptional active listening ability, was enthusiastically confirmed as an appointed member of the Nominations Committee. The Senate also confirmed Lily Parker and Conor Scanlon (commended especially for their prior student government experience) as the newest members of the Oversight Committee and Mitch Cutter as Ombudsman, a decision that Senator Tom Howe dubbed “pretty above average.” As Ombudsman, Cutter will liaise between the Executive Council and Senate as well as connect with individual Senators through one-on-ones.

The Senate concluded its official business  by passing Act SAS 15.10, which extends the election voting period from twenty to forty-four hours. Oversight Chair Jon Miranda supported the Act, suggesting that it would increase voter turnout from fifty to sixty-five percent. First-year Senator Shannon Zander, however, expressed concern, claiming that because low turnout results from voter apathy, not time constraints, the act might not improve turnout.

In their closing comments, ASWC members Katie Steen, Emma Bishop, Anya Tudisco, Dani Hupper and Jack Percival expressed joint concern over an incident at an off-campus party  and affirmed their commitment to ensure student safety. A Town Hall meeting addressing these and other issues will be held on October 20th at 7:00 PM in the Reid Coffeehouse.



ASWC Senate Plans Ahead During Retreat

At last weekend’s annual ASWC retreat, roughly thirty students convened at the Johnston Wilderness Center. Exchanging names, ambitions, years and positions, the group was quickly united by its common passion for bettering Whitman College. Students discussed broader issues such as dissatisfaction with the school mascot and financial aid policy as well as shorter-term goals. Sexual Misconduct and Prevention Chair Katie Steen called for increased lighting on campus, while first-year Senator Erin Lopez advocated  for a system that notifies students when they receive packages. Senators also outlined cultural changes that they hope to foster both on campus and in the greater Walla Walla community; first-year Senator Caroline Bauwens proposed putting “as much weight on [racial issues as on sexual violence]” in light of recent events. The breadth of the student representatives’ concerns, as President Jack Percival put it, “speaks to the level of impact that ASWC has on campus” and its potential to effect change. After a discussion of the resources needed to turn these ideas into actions, the group retired to a long night of card games, casual conversations and s’mores.

In typical ASWC fashion, students broke up into committees the following morning to practice their roles. Anya Tudisco’s Finance Committee, for example, decided whether to grant funds to “AnyaMarie McDisco,” an imaginary  jazz-enthusiast hoping to attend a John Coltrane concert. Each committee oversees a distinct element of Whitman life: while Student Affairs acts as “a liaison between student interests,” according to Chair Arthur Shemitz,  the recently formed Sustainability Committee, led by Dani Hupper, is building a wind turbine and reinvigorating the bike share program, among other projects.

Then everyone staged a mock Senate meeting to learn about the mechanics of discussion and voting. The issues on the table were much more lighthearted than usual: the potential formation of a Napping Club, the funding of a “Prancercise” class, and the confirmation of Kanye West as ASWC President for the 2020-2021 school year. By addressing these less-than-serious agenda items, members improved their mastery of Senate proceedings, using vocabulary and techniques from Robert’s Rules of Order to dictate the meeting’s style.

In total, ASWC evaluated and voted on five agenda items, held three formal debates, conducted four question-and-answer sessions, and spent $500,000 to provide each Whitman student with a kitten.

By spending a weekend developing personal goals and the skills needed to reach them, the ASWC Senate took the first step towards creating a productive year — and a closely bonded community with which to approach it.

First-year Platforms

ASWC_Ben_Cosgrove ASWC_Erin_Lopez ASWC_Jacob_Case ASWC_Shannon_Zander

Each of the first-year senator candidates submitted a platform in order to be included on the ballot.

Ben Cosgrove

Hometown: Fall City, WA

Res Hall: Jewett

My name is Ben Cosgrove, and I’m here to represent the Whitman College class of 2019.  I have only been here for two weeks, but I already feel right at home. This is one of the most accepting, welcoming and friendly communities I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of. My goal is to facilitate this inclusive environment and help everyone feel important.

I have been a member of student government since my sophomore year of high school, where I was elected to be on the ASB class board. I facilitated the school events, organized fundraisers, and rallied my fellow students’ school spirit. My senior year I led the prom committee. We raised all the necessary funds with events such as the talent show, senior tea, Tolo, and several others. I designated the venue and communicated with its staff. Read more

Senate Recap 4/12/15

The Senate convened for its third to last meeting of the school year this past Sunday, covering some new legislation, continuing the solidification of next fall’s campus wide leadership positions, and beginning to ponder the transition into next year. The Whitman Tabletop Games club, already an appreciated presence on campus with regular, popular game nights in the Lyman Lounge, was formally recognized by ASWC. The ratification of the will open new doors and give the club a chance to expand its following and its impact in the community.

New legislation included a resolution urging the Encounters course to require the use of trigger warnings for texts with specific instances of sexual assault, physical and gun violence, and suicide or self harm. Despite a mixed, hesitant response from the program, (a reflection of the current national debate about the need for trigger warnings) the Senate passed the resolution. Another new piece of legislation modified the ASWC Election Scholarship Fund to be set at $300 instead of $1000, a more reasonable choice given the amount the fund is actually used.

Nominations presented the appointment of Jessica Palacios ’16 and Linnea Weld ‘16 as next year’s blue moon editors-in-chief, two highly qualified individuals who look forward to next year’s possibilities both in terms of the actual publication and the advertising component.

Gillian Gray ’17 and Meritt Salathe ‘16 will serve as next year’s quarterlife editors-in-chief. Their passion and dedication to preserving the unique, accessible, and quirky image of quarterlife will serve the publication very well. The future of both magazines is bright.

Talk Arises of Changing Whitman’s Mascot

In the wake of the Power & Privilege Symposium, a conversation has been ignited about the possibility of Whitman changing its mascot.

The Whitman College mascot has undergone a more complex evolution that we often consider. The Missionary mascot was designated by Reverend Eells when he created the school, and over time the phrase “Fighting Missionary” was adopted in the spirit of competitive athletics. Since the adoption of the name, there has been lingering debate over which, if any, logo should be used to represent the Fighting Missionaries. Eventually designed by the Angelus-Pacific Company of Los Angeles, the original icon is officially not used by the College today. Approved logos include the intertwined W and C often seen in the Athletic Department, and the traditional clock tower logo. Any images of fighting missionaries are absent from the College’s approved icons.

For many members of the Whitman community, changing the mascot has long been a goal, and the conversation is getting serious. During Senate last Sunday 2/22, Vice President Sayda Morales initiated a call to action to make this change during an update from the Student Affairs Committee. Emma Bishop and Nick Hochfield, also contributors to the project, emphasized the importance of listening to student feedback as a new mascot is brainstormed. Although the project is still in its early stages, suggested plans include gathering ideas for a mascot from the student body, and eventually writing a Resolution discussing reasons the Fighting Missionaries need to be left behind, and why it is time for Whitman to unite behind a new mascot.
As student involvement and feedback will be vital throughout this process, all members of the Whitman community are encouraged to voice their thoughts and ideas! The process of deciding on a new mascot can serve not only as a chance to make a tangible change in the community, but as an opportunity for students to rally together in support of an important cause.

Upcoming Event: Sustainability Summit!

Interested in learning about Whitman’s sustainability initiatives? Looking for ways to get involved in sustainability-focused clubs and projects on campus? Come to the Reid Coffeehouse at 7pm on February 25th for an exciting evening uniting the college’s green clubs, ASWC, and Whitman’s sustainability leaders for conversation, updates, and chances to brainstorm and network within the community. This Town Hall event is a great opportunity to learn about the on-going green initiatives of various campus clubs, including Re-think Dams, Divestment, CCC, Green Leaders, Outhouse, Mycology Club, SAW, Organic Garden, Glean Team, Cool the Schools and the Bike Share Program. Come strategize future projects, get involved with new opportunities, and learn more about sustainability at Whitman. There will also be a chance for open group conversation, so bring your own ideas!

First Senate of 2015

The Senate is back for the spring in a bustle of legislative activity, with an exciting list of initiatives for the coming months and some new faces around the ASWC office.

Convening on February 1st with a heavy agenda including the SRS 15.1 Resolution regarding sexual misconduct policy, the Senate had a productive start to the semester. Several decisions were made regarding the club finance. Some members of GlobeMed will be traveling to a conference in Chicago, a selective opportunity promises to be a meaningful and unique experience. The Climbing Club was allocated funds to finance travel for its annual trip, a cornerstone of the climbing community, and requests for funding from the Fencing and stART clubs were also approved. New members to ASWC were introduced as well: Annie Sirski as the Executive Director of Communications, Shireen Nori on the Diversity Committee, and Sonya Kuzminski as Copy Editor.  Andrea Worsoe was also confirmed as a new member to the Oversight Committee.

The consideration and ultimate decision on Resolution SRS 15.1 was the bulk of the meeting. The deliberation of the resolution, and the addition of amendments, led to a powerful and serious conversation about sexual misconduct policy.

This resolution advocates changes to the language in Whitman’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, and the general investigative process. The resolution addresses Whitman’s definition of incapacitation, recommends the assignment of two investigators in a case of sexual misconduct and an increase in opportunities to appeal a case, and implements Project Callisto, an independent sexual violence reporting system. The resolution was passed unanimously and adopted by acclamation, a powerful gesture by ASWC demonstrating the serious care and thought put towards the matter.

ASWC looks forward to an exciting spring with new projects and initiatives! Looking towards the future, the Senate hopes to consider new resolutions addressing a wide variety of issues: student input in the tenure process, college credit for internships, the possibility of a Meatless Monday, content warnings for class reading material, the use of bullhooks on circus animals, and fossil fuel divestment. Concerns about the health center are also being addressed by a team from the Student Affairs Committee.

Election time is also just around the corner! Keep up with ASWC Unpacked for coming details about potential candidates, open positions, and ways to get involved.