ASWC executive council undergoes multiple changes

Abby Malzewski, Editor-in-Chief

On Feb. 7, an email with the subject line, “ASWC EC Changes,” was sent to the Whitman community. The body of the message announced recent changes to the Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC) executive council along with the announcement of Fraser Moore as the Interim President of ASWC, which was approved by ASWC Senate on Jan. 29.

Six new members presently sit on the executive council (EC). Position changes have practically created a new team for the group of students that makes decisions that represent the Whitman student body.

Interim ASWC President Fraser Moore stepped down from his position as the Chair of the Sustainability Committee to take on this new role. Moore was nominated to take on the presidency by the rest of executive council.

“Right at the beginning of semester, we called an emergency EC,” Moore said. “The succession plan was that Juli Dun and the Oversight Chair… together [facilitated] a nomination from EC to take over the presidency. Then that person would get nominated [and] voted on by EC.”

Senior Associate Dean of Students Juli Dunn played a role in helping remaining EC leaders follow ASWC bylaws and policies to elect a temporary president. ASWC has comprehensive bylaws with guidelines for succession.

Dunn shared a statement with The Wire about the change in the ASWC presidency.

The student who served in the role of ASWC President did an amazing job of building a great team in the fall semester. Due to personal reasons, that student needed to step away from school, and as a result, due to the bylaws, this position in turn,” Dunn said. “I applaud the fall ASWC President for prioritizing their personal needs.”

In addition to a new Interim President, there are five new members in executive council positions. While it is normal for two or three transitions in a semester due to study abroad commitments, to have so many positions change over is out of the ordinary.

Moore noted how unprecedented this sort of change to EC is, and described how he has looked at past documents to investigate whether this has happened before.

“In my knowledge, because I’ve looked back at documents [and] what names have been on there, I don’t think this has ever happened in ASWC where we’ve had this huge sort of tumultuous change,” Moore said.

While Moore’s start on ASWC with the Sustainability Committee was prompted by a passion for climate change and social justice, he has found a new appreciation for the leading and running of ASWC. Moore outlined how he has been working with the Trees and Landscaping Committee to integrate more native plants on campus, in addition to the Climate Action Resolution that was passed on Feb. 5.

Most recently, ASWC passed SRS23.2 and SRS23.3 on Sunday, March 3. One resolution is to oppose artificial turf on the athletic fields until a full environmental review is conducted, and the other is in support of Syria, Turkey and Whitman students in the recent aftermath of February 2023 earthquakes.

Presently, the executive council resides as follows: Finance Chair Angela Eliacy, Oversight Chair Ben Canty, Nominations and Appointments Chair Tayva Anderson, DEI Chair Gigi Peterson, Marketing Chair Nicole Huh, Sustainability Chair Owen Jakel and Student Development Chair Ken Fritzell.

The three transitions for study abroad and three resignations have taken place throughout the course of the spring semester, with the Oversight Chair position being replaced as recently as Feb. 27. 

Marketing Chair Nicole Huh has been involved with ASWC since she joined the communications committee last year. She has held her position as the Marketing Chair for both the fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters. Huh commented on the recent transfers of power within EC.

“It’s definitely harder when you’re having a committee that’s a lot newer, especially when you’re doing a lot of work that’s passed down knowledge,” Huh said. “Especially with a lot of new hires within the committees, I guess it would be a lot harder in terms of figuring things out, just making sure that everything runs smoothly.”

While Huh was able to point to these difficulties, she applauded the way EC has been handling the transitions thus far. 

“I think this EC is doing a really good job of trying to fill in the holes. I don’t think we’ve actually run into any problems so far with having such a new team,” Huh said. “It’s just getting that momentum going is a little more difficult with having so many changes.”

In a month, the ASWC ballots will come out following the traditional election cycle. Both Moore and Huh will be transitioning out of their positions as seniors that are graduating in May. Huh reported that marketing for the elections will begin soon.

In the light of ample change and reorganization, Moore and the rest of EC remains enthusiastic about their current projects and the rest of their terms.

“I’m really energized and excited about this semester,” Moore said. “We just need to make sure we stay on track with this huge turnover as the facilitators behind ASWC.”