ASWC hires new Executive Director of Communications

Christy Carley

Concluding a month-long search for a new executive director of communications, Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC) has officially hired senior Annie Sirski for the position.

Since the time the position was vacated at the end of last semester, ASWC President senior Tatiana Kaehler has led the search for a new director to coordinate communication between ASWC and the student body.

“ASWC is thrilled to welcome Annie Sirski ’15 as the new Executive Director of Communications. Annie’s enthusiasm for both communications and student issues make her more than qualified for the position. We are excited for all that she will bring to ASWC,” said Kaehler in an email to The Pioneer.

Sirski’s previous work with communications includes a volunteer position with the Walla Walla Helpline, an organization dedicated to combating homelessness in the Walla Walla community, where she assisted with grant applications and working on the donor database for the organization. This experience, along with a summer spent working at a law firm, gave Sirski a skill set she plans to use to give back to the Whitman Community.

Sirski is particularly excited about the opportunity to have a considerable amount of freedom while working with communications.

“[The committee] is a very new part of ASWC. As long as you’re getting the baseline work done … you can kind of do your own projects to create the ASWC brand,” said Sirski.

The 2014-2015 academic year marks the third year since the Communications Committee for ASWC was created by former ASWC President Kayvon Behroozian ’14.

“[The committee] is a pretty new entity,” said  Kaehler. “We used to have senators who spent half their time on Nominations Committee and half their time on Communications Committee, which meant that they weren’t really specialized in communications.”

While the committee has continued to evolve since its establishment, its main function has always been to provide a crucial link between ASWC and the student body.

“I wanted the ASWC communications to be like the tip of the spear for any communications outreach,” said former ASWC President and current Senator senior Tim Reed. “Groups [in ASWC] are doing a lot of really cool stuff, but sometimes that stuff doesn’t get out to everyone.”

One of the most difficult tasks for the executive director of communications is gaining and maintaining the interest of students in regards to what ASWC has achieved or is working on.

“One of the challenges you may have as an [executive director] is taking a four to five page resolution … and convey[ing] it in paragraph form,” said Reed. “How do you get people to take time out of their day and read a really great resolution?”

Sirski says she will address this issue by trying to make background information on new resolutions available to students. She mentioned the amount of research that goes into creating a resolution, such as looking at studies done at other schools, and hopes that making these available to Whitman students will deepen their understanding of ASWC’s work.

Sirski also mentioned plans to focus on increasing the use of existing resources within ASWC.

“There’s some stuff that’s been under-utilized,” said Sirski. “There’s this really cool thing they were looking into where students could submit petitions online … I’m excited to play Nancy Drew, dust off the old files and see what connections we have existing and make sure we’re using those as much as possible.”

Sirski also mentioned plans to improve outreach to upperclassmen. Living off campus, she has noticed that the absence of Resident Life makes staying informed and connected with the community more difficult and hopes to explore ways in which this could be ameliorated.

Sirski anticipates that it will be difficult to start in the position halfway through the academic year. However, she added that members of ASWC are working hard to get her up to speed.

“People are working as hard as they can to get me equipped to the resources I need to do my job right,” she said. “I really want to make sure I’m investing the time to do the best job I can.”