Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

ASWC’s Bold Move for Campus Growth

During their March 31 meeting, the Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC) quietly passed a resolution to increase the student fee after three years at the same rate. The increase moves the membership fee to 0.85 percent of tuition, or an increase from $422 this year to $539.84 for next year. 

Junior ASWC Finance Committee Chair Maximilian Walthers emphasized the need to support clubs, which the increase will facilitate. This semester, 16 new clubs that affiliated over the course of the 2023-2024 school year requested budgets for the first time to fund their organizations in the coming academic year

“I didn’t want to take any risks. Last year for budget allocation we made a mistake and were around $100,000 below what we had to be, which unfortunately led to a lot of frustrations. For this year, I didn’t want to risk it with the budgeting and have the same thing happening this year. I would rather take the safe route with this number and be sure we can provide our clubs with what they need and with what they are asking for,” Walthers said.  

Junior Basil Shevtsov, President of ASWC, contextualized the increase. 

“In essence, we wanted to standardize the ASWC student fee to take away the social aspect of it. It seems to be too politically motivated (especially around election times as well), so now the student fee is a fixed percentage of tuition. Last year we approved very few new clubs. This year we have seen a huge increase in demand for new student clubs and they’re submitting budget requests. It is also important to know that we went the longest period of time that ASWC has gone without increasing its fee. This is why it is such a big jump: because instead of it being gradual year by year by year (which is how it should have been done to match growth and inflation), now we had to have such a big jump to get back in line with the fiscally responsible budget,” Shevstov said. 

Junior Nominations and Appointments Chair Tayva Anderson had a different perspective than Walthers and Shevtsov. She believed that there was a different way to approach the problem rather than increasing the fee so dramatically. 

“I voted ‘no’ specifically because I thought that the increase was too intense. I have been on ASWC for three years and one thing I’ve been really adamant about, in terms of how we budget and operate fiscally as an organization, is that we need to be very considerate of the fact that ASWC is not a company and we should not be making a profit nor operating with money in the same way a company does. One of the things I was hesitant about was that next year we will have about 100 less students. With fewer students, we should be requesting a similar amount of money every year,” Anderson said. 

Although there is a social pressure to not increase the fee, now it is a fixed percentage of tuition and, for those students who are on need-based financial aid, the fee is covered by aid. Due to the high demand for new student clubs this semester compared to others, the significant fee increase is intended to address growth and ASWC’s need to align with fiscal responsibility after a long period without any adjustments. 

“I want students to know that we are definitely not approaching this callously, there has been a lot of time, effort, thought and different perspectives put into this and considered. I completely recognize how big of an impact the student fee increase is on students. At the same time, there are just a lot of different variables we consider and this is the conclusion we came to that is best for all of us in the big picture,” said Shevstov. 

“If we lower the student fee, what happens is that people with the biggest budgets will mostly get the biggest cuts — which are The Wire and the Whitman Events Board (WEB),” Walthers said. 

Anderson encouraged ASWC to brainstorm more innovative solutions and take the size of the student body into account. 

“I think that we can think more critically about the rising demand in budgets and clubs there is and possibly come up with different ways to create a vibrant campus community without throwing money at the problem. Not that they don’t deserve the money, they do, but we have so many programs on campus, almost too much to catch up with. ASWC for a long time has been not fulfilling the entire demand of students because of our budget and I am supportive of some budget increase, but I think an additional (a little bit above) $100 per year per student is a good amount and the rest is pretty unnecessary,” said Anderson. 

The fee-increase resolution passed with 21 votes in favor, one in opposition and one abstaining during the March 31 senate meeting.

On April 14, ASWC unanimously passed four budget items for the 2024-2025 school year totaling $765,720.

Editor’s note: The Wire is funded by the Associated Students of Whitman College and received 15.02% of the overall budget for the 2024-2025 school year.  Questions or concerns about The Wire‘s budget can be forwarded to the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at [email protected]

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