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ASWC Election Forum Centers on Communication, Budget

Christy Carley, News Editor

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Candidates for ASWC’s Executive Council gathered Wednesday, April 4 at a public forum to announce their platforms and field questions from the Oversight Committee, represented by Jeanette Schwensen ‘18 and audience members.

Those present at the forum included candidates for President, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Vice President of Finance, Vice President of Nominations and, as an elected position for the first time this year, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. The first three vice president positions were formerly referred to as “chairs,” but their titles were altered as part of ASWC’s six-year strategic plan. According to ASWC President AnnaMarie McCorvie ‘18, the renaming of the positions is part of an effort to “flatten the hierarchy” within ASWC.

For ASWC, naming four members of Executive Council “Vice President” has the potential advantage of increased student representation among the College’s Board of Trustees. The President and Vice President of ASWC are generally invited to attend Board meetings, but with four members of the body acting as vice presidents, it is possible that five, rather than two members of ASWC will be allowed.

Yesterday’s forum kicked off with opening statements from candidates, in which nearly all expressed a desire to increase communication between ASWC and the larger student body. Both presidential candidates, juniors Lily Parker and Ben Cosgrove, emphasized transparency as a key aspect of their platforms. Parker suggested increasing the number of ASWC Town Hall events held every year, while Cosgrove proposed a potential shift in the day and time of Senate, currently held in the evening every other Sunday, with the hopes that more students would attend.

VP of Legislative Affairs candidate Betty Zhang ‘20, and VP of Diversity and Inclusion candidate Nandin “Nadia” Ganjoloo ‘21, also highlighted their desire for increased communication between ASWC and the student body.

 

The most notable disagreement amongst candidates surfaced between Parker and Cosgrove surrounding the issue of minimum wage. Parker, if elected, hopes to continue current efforts to arrive at minimum wage for those employed by ASWC, working toward the possibility of students applying work-study to their positions. Cosgrove, meanwhile, is opposed to such efforts on the grounds that they could result in an increased student fee.

“I don’t believe it is fair to ask the Trustees to keep tuition as low as possible if we have control over one fee, and every single year we raise that fee,” Cosgrove said.

Running with the slogan, “I want to make your money work for you,” Cosgrove hopes to increase the efficiency of ASWC and suggested that ASWC dissociate from the Whitman Events Board (WEB), floating the possibility of a separate WEB fee for students.

Shelby Cutter ‘19, running unopposed for Vice President of Finance aims to balance efforts towards minimum wage with the concern of an increased student fee, continuing the work of current Finance Chair Chris Meabe ‘18. 

Other suggestions for cutting down ASWC’s budget include ceasing to fund activities in the Interest House Community and the salary for the Outdoor Program Rental Shop Director, both of which, many on ASWC believe, should be funded directly by the college.

Beyond budgetary concerns, the forum revealed ideas for a number of new projects that candidates hope to pursue if elected.

Omar Aldahleh ‘20, running against Zhang for VP of Legislative Affairs, hopes to foster an open discussion on campus about mental health and expressed interest in devoting a week of events or even an entire day – resembling the Power and Privilege Symposium – to such discussion.

Other ideas include the complete divestment of ASWC’s endowment from fossil fuels, advocated for by Cutter and Parker, working towards academic credit for internships, suggested by Ganjoloo, and increased collaboration between ASWC and the Intercultural Center, championed by Carter and Ye Rim Cho ‘19, running for VP of Diversity and Inclusion.

Voting for Executive Council will take place April 8 and 9 online.

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ASWC Election Forum Centers on Communication, Budget