ASWC is back and on track to explore new policies with a group of people who have a variety of talents and experiences.
This academic year, The Associated Student of Whitman College (ASWC) intends to address issues related to inclusion, communication and efficiency. Throughout the year, ASWC will pursue the five points that ASWC president, senior Arthur Shemitz, included in his platform last spring: creating open forums with trustees, switching to test-optional admissions for applicants to the college, supporting the summer fly-in program for first generation college students, finding places around campus to put more gender inclusive bathrooms and creating a temporary Diversity and Inclusion Director position. Clearly explaining these goals to Whitman’s student body and then accomplishing those goals efficiently is a high priority for ASWC this upcoming year. In doing so, ASWC hopes to encourage its members to their talents and experiences to tackle the problems Whitman’s students face.
Because students of color are underrepresented in student government and in most places around campus, an aspect of Shemitz’s campaign was inventing the position of Diversity and Inclusion Director to change this. Shemitz is excited to have already accomplished such an important point of his campaign campus.
Since the role of Diversity and Inclusion Director is new, ASWC needs students’ input to guarantee all students feel safe participating in campus life and student government. Senior Cherokee Washington will fill the role. Washington claims ASWC is still exploring the best path for gaining student input.
“In terms of the position of Diversity Director and its goals, Arthur and I are both really excited and have no specific plan as to how to complete our goal,” Washington wrote in an email.
However, Washington knows that Whitman students will be key in telling ASWC how to advocate for their representation in the best manner.
“Though the manner in which those goals will be accomplished is yet to be determined, I hope all members of the Whitman community will contribute ideas in this area and assist Arthur and me in tackling the list,” Washington wrote in an email. “This position, in short, is extremely necessary and I hope we all feel the urge to partake in the accomplishing of those goals.”
Furthermore, ASWC would like to gain better means of communicating with all of Whitman’s students this year.
“I think one of my biggest things is [ASWC’s] transparency and our communication with the rest of the student body,” Dana Casterella, senior Vice President of ASWC said. “I think that is something that can be improved, and I think that Arthur and I are both really committed to that and trying to make ASWC a more approachable entity where people feel like they can voice their concerns actively.”
Additionally, Shemitz explained how he would like students to take advantage of opportunities to express their desires to administrators in a forum on October 17 with administrators and trustees.
“It is going to count as a Town Hall and we really encourage people to come and learn about how does the college function, ask questions of these administrators who they feel they don’t get to have a lot of contact with, and hopefully come away with a lot of information about how the college works and how to affect change within the college,” Shemitz said.
By communicating better amongst itself and throughout the student body as a whole, ASWC hopes to increase its efficiency in examining pertinent issues.
“I would like for us to run our meetings in a way where we are getting a lot more done and not taking as much time to do so, but in the process, also hearing more issues,” Casterella said.
Many members of ASWC cited a strong executive council as a reason they thought that ASWC would operate smoothly this year.
“We have a wonderful team of myself and 10 other extraordinarily dedicated individuals to student advocacy and to the demands of each of their positions. I think that they are all so immensely qualified, and I think that this is going to be a tremendous year for ASWC,” Shemitz said.
Casterella agreed and explained that she thought that ASWC’s members would feed off of each other’s enthusiasm, experience and organization to create an environment conducive to addressing issues.
“I think that we have a really skilled group of people who want to see a lot get done and who are also organized and time efficient…And when you are surrounded by a group of people like that, it only encourages you to be more so,” Casterella said.