ASWC senators reflect on more ‘proactive’ semester of work

by Lizzie Norgard

Many of the projects ASWC undertakes for Whitman take place through the Senate and the committees each senator belongs to. Senators participate in the Policy, Finance and Programming committees and typically discuss policies, events and issues in committee meetings before they address them in senate meetings and to ASWC as a whole. This semester, the Senate has been working on several recent issues under the aegis of each committee.

ASWC has recently approved and re-recognized several clubs, a procedure which takes place at senate meetings. The new clubs include the African Awareness Club, Student Movement for Real Change, Campus Republicans and the Whitewater Club.

The Policy Committee has been trying to secure funding for STD testing at the health center, which used to be free for students. Since funding was cut by the Department of Health in 2004 for all but HIV tests significantly fewer students have been getting tested at the health center.

Junior senator Kate Rosenberg, who has been leading the project, said, “It sends a message of misplaced priorities, I believe, for Whitman to secure enough money to put TVs in the gym, while disregarding sexual health. Essentially, it’s a problem with roots in the state bureaucracy, but Whitman should have immediately picked up the state’s slack on this critical issue.” Rosenberg hopes to secure funding from a private donor for a test called APTIMA, which would test for gonorrhea and chlamydia. She has been working with Whitman Health Center Director Ellen Collette.

Another recent undertaking for the Policy Committee has been to pass a campus resolution against the Military Commissions Act. The resolution has been initiated by senior senator Thomas Miller. The Policy Committee is also contacting other schools to encourage them to do the same. According to sophomore senator and Committee member Julia Nelson, “the purpose of the resolution is for Whitman to show opposition as a school [to the MCA]. ASWC can be seen as reactionary, and this resolution shows its activist edge. The goal is to be more proactive about things.”

The Policy Committee has also been working on getting a student representative on the Board of Trustees, which currently consists mostly of alumni. The student representative would report to the Board of Trustees on the needs of students and provide input on decision making. The Policy Committee has yet to determine how the student representative would be selected.

The Finance Committee recently approved two contingency requests for special funding to campus groups. The committee allocated funds for a trip to Washington, D.C. for the Whitman Civil Liberties Union and for the production of “quarterlife,” the new campus literary magazine. The Finance Committee has also been trying to secure more money for the ASWC budget from the college’s investment-with-trust fund.

The Guster concert on Dec. 5 has been an important item on the agenda of the Programming Committee, which has been responsible for planning the event. The Programming Committee has also been trying to more clearly distinguish its responsibilities from those of the Campus Activities Board.

The Oversight Committee was recently involved with the special election for junior class senators. Because two senators will be going abroad, juniors Gabrielle Arrowood and Dan Shaw were elected in their stead. The Committee proposed changes to an amendment in the bylaws that required senators to hold a forum in all of the first-year halls, which is superfluous in the case of special junior elections.

The Executive Council is currently working on a new ASWC web page.

The information for this article was provided by senators Gabrielle Arrowood (’08), Julia Nelson (’09), and Bryce McKay (’09).


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