ASWC calls for student participation

Sally Hughes

Every year each student pays ASWC dues, called the “Activity Fee,” of just over $300. The Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC) controls this fund, deciding what and who to spend it on. “Every Whitman college student is a member of ASWC,” states the Web site (whitman.edu/aswc). This membership grants free membership to all ASWC events; “ASWC also serves all members by representing their interests as the student government of the College.”
You are a member of ASWC. Use that membership.

Voting is a good place to begin. Two deadlines were extended this year due to lack of student interest and/or participation. In the class of ’10, 193 students voted. In the class of ’09, 172 voted. That figures to approximately 50 percent of the class. In the class of ’08, however, 98 voted. That is approximately 27 percent.

“There’s a real disconnect between ASWC and the majority of the student body,” said junior Chase Cooper, who serves on the ASWC Nominations Committee and in the House of Clubs as the IFC representative. “There is an incestuous ASWC elite.”
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For ASWC to have “any semblance of a democratic system, students must know and care about it,” said Cooper. Student awareness legitimizes student government and is essential to accountability. “Senators are an under-utilized resource,” said Cooper. Students can contact their representatives to express concerns or complaints.

Next year, for the first time in Whitman history, a student representative will serve on the Board of Trustees. ASWC has been pushing for this since the 1970s. The details of this position (the hiring process and so forth), are still under consideration and will be finalized over the summer. The Board of Trustees serves as the check on the President.

“Students at Whitman often participate in so many activities that they cannot give 100 percent to each one,” said senior Laura Hanson, Hiring Chair. “Certain positions, like Pioneer Editor-in-Chief and KWCW Manager, are filled by dedicated individuals who will give 100 percent.” Hanson said that to raise student awareness ASWC is working with Admissions to include information about student government in first-year orientation. “ASWC News,” a column appearing weekly in this publication, has also sought to bridge the divide between ASWC and students and to make information more accessible.
The ASWC Web site (whitman.edu/aswc) has up-to-date information on various positions, as well as in-depth information about the organization of ASWC. “ASWC news,” however, on the home page, was grossly out-of-date. The last entry was posted on Dec. 4, 2005.

Cooper believes that it is every student’s responsibility to stay informed and duty to themselves and the Whitman community to contribute.

“We’re all capable of understanding,” said Cooper. “Be aware; take active interest: it’s your money.”