ASWC reflects on 2019 and looks towards 2020


ASWC held its second Senate meeting of 2020 on Sunday, Feb. 9. They reflected on the initiatives established in Fall 2019. Photos by Samarah Uribe

Jessica Lilly, Staff Reporter

The Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC) is Whitman’s student government, responsible for representing student interests on campus, sponsoring all campus programming and funding student organizations. On Sunday, Feb. 9, ASWC held their second Senate meeting of spring semester, during which they reflected upon some of their fall initiatives and looked forward to the coming months.

ASWC President Isaiah Banta shared his perspective on ASWC’s fall semester.

“This year, we have a strong executive council and a Senate full of members who are wholly committed to working on projects and being student leaders among their peers,” Banta said. “This progress is reflected in our accomplishments.”

Prominent fall ASWC initiatives include the work of the Finance Committee, Sustainability Committee and Diversity and Inclusion Committee, as well as town hall meetings mobilized by Banta.

In an ASWC meeting last week, Finance Chair Easton Powell reported that ASWC funded 16 Travel and Student Development (TSD) requests this academic year. Powell shared that ASWC has spent a total of $21,335 out of the $34,832 TSD Budget. ASWC has most recently approved funding for joint LatinX and Ritmos Latinos events and funding to send two members of The Wire to the Associated Collegiate Press College Media Convention in San Francisco next week. The TSD will continue accepting funding requests throughout spring semester.

Last semester, the Sustainability Committee partnered with Chief Financial Officer Peter Harvey and Campus Sustainability Coordinator Elissa Brown to begin the process of converting fluorescent bulbs to LED lamps campus-wide. Last Thursday, The Wire published an article detailing the LED light installation in Penrose Library; however, much of campus has yet to undergo the transition to LED lamps. Thys Reynolds, the chair of the ASWC Sustainability Committee, voiced his continued support for a campus-wide LED implementation.

“Currently, switching to LEDs is one of the most immediately beneficial measures we can take,” Reynolds said, “so ASWC Sustainability will continue to advocate in that direction.”

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee also partnered with the Counseling Center to increase accessibility and implement student feedback.

Banta organized a series of town halls throughout last semester to address the following issues: general education requirements, the Student Code of Conduct, the Power & Privilege Symposium and the Marcus Whitman statue. The town halls were attended by many notable members of the community, including Whitman College President Kathy Murray.

Additionally, this fall, the Nominations and Appointments Committee hired new members for various Whitman committees, the director of Student Organizations assisted in the ratification of many new clubs and the Communications Committee increased ASWC’s online visibility.

When asked about ASWC’s priorities for spring semester, Banta highlighted the need for more student engagement in the voting process. 

ASWC hopes “to increase Whitman student voter turnout to more than 60 percent … [through] smooth, equitable and engaging ASWC nominations and elections,” Banta said.

Banta further outlined the major goals for spring semester, saying that ASWC aims “to develop a resource that outlines the best way that various college departments [can] support students and [hear] specific concerns, to analyze and provide suggestions for changes to the College Meal Plan [and] to analyze and begin implementation of solutions to bike theft on campus.” 

When asked about student engagement with ASWC, Banta shared his view of its evolving role in the eyes of the Whitman community.

“Last [academic] year, ASWC had many changes in leadership which caused progress to falter and … student’s belief in the merits of a student government advocating for student voices to falter,” Banta said. “This [academic] year… students not only know what ASWC is, but what it is for: a resource for accessing opportunities off campus, a place for student voices, and a way to get involved in the work of continually making a better campus for all of us. I am very proud of all the work that we have done.”