New members appointed to ASWC’s Executive Council

Christy Carley

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The newly appointed members of ASWC’s Executive Council are looking to make changes on Whitman’s campus next year addressing issues of communication, the environment and sexual assault. Last week, ASWC President-elect, junior Jack Percival appointed junior Abby Seethoff, junior Katie Steen and sophomore Dani Hupper to the positions of executive director of communications, sexual misconduct prevention advocate and sustainability coordinator, respectively. The position of club director has yet to be filled.

The positions on the Executive Council change year to year. The role of the sustainability coordinator was new at the beginning of this academic year and will continue in a trial period until the end of next year. The position was originally created by a student referendum calling for an election of the director. Due to its similarity to other appointed positions, however, the act that renewed the position specified that it would be appointed by the ASWC president.

Hupper has a range of goals for the upcoming school year, many of which involve forging relationships between environmental clubs on campus. She plans to expand the Whitman Sustainability Website to include a calendar of different clubs’ events and meetings, and she would also like the website to serve as an avenue by which club leaders could apply for funding. Additionally, Hupper aspires to create a service that allows students to send text messages with questions or suggestions they have regarding sustainability on campus. The text messages, as well as their responses, will appear on the website. In addition to advances with the website, Hupper plans to schedule meetings throughout the year with leaders of campus environmental organizations. She hopes that her efforts will encourage clubs to work together and share ideas.

“My purpose … is to make sure that we’re not reinventing the wheel every year,” she said. “When clubs are trying to do similar things … they can work together rather than trying to do things independently.”

In addition to these efforts, Hupper will continue working to obtain possibly two demonstrational wind turbines on campus. One of the turbines would be student-built and another would be commercial. According to Hupper, the purpose of the turbines will not be to generate electricity.

“The purpose of  [the turbines] is demonstration and education: to take what we learn in the classroom and have a real visual thing to associate that with and as a talking point or a conversation starter about renewable energy on our campus” said Hupper.

Joining Hupper on Executive Council next year is Seethoff, who hopes to expand student connections to ASWC through her role of executive director of communications.

“Communications combines all the things that I enjoy,” said Seethoff. “It has aspects of writing and graphic design and photography as well as editing.”

Seethoff plans to capitalize on a previous internship experience as well as her time as the ASWC communications copy editor to use ASWC communications in a way that will engage student interest.

She hopes to update the ASWC Communications Website more often as well as encourage resident assistants to plan a section meeting that involves attending an ASWC senate meeting. Seethoff believes this will give students, especially first-years, an opportunity to better understand the inner workings of ASWC.

Unlike the other two positions, the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Advocate was created for the first time this year by Percival. Each year the president of ASWC is given one open spot on the Executive Council for which they have the power to create a new position.

Percival felt that the addition of this position to Executive Council was important as a way to address issues that are occurring in the higher education system both nationally and at Whitman. Issues related to sexual assault on Whitman’s campus include the recent investigation conducted by the Office of Civil Rights, criticisms of current programming efforts such as Green Dot and complaints related to Title IX reporting.

“This position is designed to initiate a student-driven effort to deal with all of those things: the prevention, the adjudication and the policy,” said Percival.

Steen plans to work alongside the administration as well as student organizations with issues of policy and programming. One of her focuses will be to ensure that the various student organizations involved with sexual assault prevention have the support that they need and are on the same page with one another.

As a former co-president for FACE, Steen represented the organization on the committee that drafted the new resolution concerning sexual assault policy last semester. Having worked on the issue in various ways throughout her time at Whitman, Steen believes she has a good understanding of different student perspectives. She plans to hold office hours each week in which members of the Whitman Community may voice their concerns. Steen looks forward to using her position as a way to express student concerns to the administration and larger community.

“I can take students’ perspectives and use them in a way that the administration is going to listen to or that the whole student body is going to listen to,” she said.

Steen’s plans, as well as those of the other appointed members, fit well with Percival’s description of whom he hoped would fill the positions.

“I’m looking for people who are dedicated to student advocacy … who want to get feedback on a lot of things –– people who are really enthusiastic and energetic and want to work hard,” he said.