Senate tripled legislation activity since last year

JESSICA ZHOU, Evergreen reporter

The 46th ASWSU Senate tripled its legislative activity from the previous year by solidifying its mission and goals and restructuring the expected responsibilities of each senator.

As of last week’s meeting, the Senate has passed 35 resolutions and 57 bills, in comparison to last year’s Senate, which passed nine resolutions and 14 bills.

“What makes us different from the rest of ASWSU,” Senate Pro Tempore Garvin Price said, “is that we’re the only ones that can do legislation.”

Price said in previous years, senators mostly focused on the immediate duties of the committee they sat on. This year, the Senate required every senator to write legislation, regardless of whether they sat on the Internal, External or Finance committees. By doing so, senators are more actively engaged in the entire Senate, Price said.

“Something we’ve done really good this year … is to get to know each other,” Price said. “People feel like they’re welcomed [into the office].”

The efforts of the Senate leadership set the tone for the rest of the year, he said, leading senators to feel more comfortable to voice their thoughts during gatherings. In meetings, senators have time to discuss amongst one another before a motion goes to a vote, and they are given the opportunity to justify their vote.

Sen. Josue Zuniga, who recently voted against the majority in a resolution honoring President Kirk Schulz on his first year at the university, said he did so with “the hope and idea that the students believe in our vote with reasoning.”

This year, ASWSU doubled the amount of funding it provided, from roughly $30,000 last year to $60,000. The Senate had an $80,000 budget to fund student organization events, in comparison to an $8,500 budget two years ago.

Two years ago, ASWSU President Adam Crouch and Vice President Kyle Geiger decided to limit the distribution of newspapers, such as USA Today and The New York Times, previously offered throughout campus to only within the CUB.

The extra money saved was allocated to the Senate and distributed among different registered student organizations (RSOs). During the last school year, Price, who served as a senator at the time, and Sen. Allen Cherry asked the Services and Activities Committee (S&A) to keep this allocation, which was originally supposed to be a one-time occurrence, for the purpose of distributing the extra money to RSOs.

“And now it’s become part of our budget,” Price said. “We also got it approved by S&A this year as well. We’re now able to be a primary source of funding.”

Funding has the most instant impact on the student body, Price said. Other student organization funding sources include the Student Entertainment Board arts grant, the Residence Hall Association, the CougParents fund, the Zero-Waste Football Program and the Student Advertising Fund.

However, the ASWSU Senate’s Crimson and Gray funding is less restricted, Zuniga said. The fund’s application is rolling, and there are no limits on the amount that can be requested. The only requirement for a requesting RSO is that they are an undergraduate student organization.

This year, people are talking more about ASWSU, Price said. In a February meeting, the ASWSU Senate discussed a resolution supporting undocumented students, which passed 14-2, that lead 17 WSU community members to speak during public forum. The Daily Evergreen live streamed the event, which received nearly 5,000 views.

Price recalled the room filled to the point of standing room only until it posed a threat as a fire hazard.

“We have never had people come to a Senate room and have police escorts come,” he said. “[The community members] showed up because they care.”

While bills are amendments to the ASWSU bylaws, Price said, resolutions go beyond ASWSU-elected members and affect all students on campus.

In the future, Price envisions more communication with students, in-person and through social media, as well as developing relationships with administration.

“Our next step is communicating to students who have nowhere to go to access this information,” he said.

Price referenced the ASWSU Senate OrgSync page, an online hub to access Senate meeting minutes, agendas, bills, resolutions and committee meeting minutes.

According to Washington State’s Open Public Meetings Act, ASWSU Senate, as a governing body with the ability to make a significant impact on the community, is required to make its meetings open to the public.

“People don’t know we pass this stuff,” Price said. “For the Senate this year, we’ve done a good job of getting stuff done.”

The 46th ASWSU Senate tripled its legislative activity from the previous year by solidifying its mission and goals and restructuring the expected responsibilities of each senator.As of last week’s meeting, the Senate has passed 35 resolutions and 57 bills, in comparison to last year’s Senate, which passed nine resolutions and 14 bills.“What makes us different from the rest of ASWSU,” Senate Pro Tempore Garvin Price said, “is that we’re the only ones that can do legislation.”Price said in previous years, senators mostly focused on the immediate duties of the committee they sat on. This year, the Senate required every senator to write legislation, regardless of whether they sat on the Internal, External or Finance committees. By doing so, senators are more actively engaged in the entire Senate, Price said.“Something we’ve done really good this year … is to get to know each other,” Price said. “People feel like they’re welcomed [into the office].”The efforts of the Senate leadership set the tone for the rest of the year, he said, leading senators to feel more comfortable to voice their thoughts during gatherings. In meetings, senators have time to discuss amongst one another before a motion goes to a vote, and they are given the opportunity to justify their vote.Sen. Josue Zuniga, who recently voted against the majority in a resolution honoring President Kirk Schulz on his first year at the university, said he did so with “the hope and idea that the students believe in our vote with reasoning.”This year, ASWSU doubled the amount of funding it provided, from roughly $30,000 last year to $60,000. The Senate had an $80,000 budget to fund student organization events, in comparison to an $8,500 budget two years ago.Two years ago, ASWSU President Adam Crouch and Vice President Kyle Geiger decided to limit the distribution of newspapers, such as USA Today and The New York Times, previously offered throughout campus to only within the CUB.The extra money saved was allocated to the Senate and distributed among different registered student organizations (RSOs). During the last school year, Price, who served as a senator at the time, and Sen. Allen Cherry asked the Services and Activities Committee (S&A) to keep this allocation, which was originally supposed to be a one-time occurrence, for the purpose of distributing the extra money to RSOs.“And now it’s become part of our budget,” Price said. “We also got it approved by S&A this year as well. We’re now able to be a primary source of funding.”Funding has the most instant impact on the student body, Price said. Other student organization funding sources include the Student Entertainment Board arts grant, the Residence Hall Association, the CougParents fund, the Zero-Waste Football Program and the Student Advertising Fund.However, the ASWSU Senate’s Crimson and Gray funding is less restricted, Zuniga said. The fund’s application is rolling, and there are no limits on the amount that can be requested. The only requirement for a requesting RSO is that they are an undergraduate student organization.This year, people are talking more about ASWSU, Price said. In a February meeting, the ASWSU Senate discussed a resolution supporting undocumented students, which passed 14-2, that lead 17 WSU community members to speak during public forum. The Daily Evergreen live streamed the event, which received nearly 5,000 views.Price recalled the room filled to the point of standing room only until it posed a threat as a fire hazard.“We have never had people come to a Senate room and have police escorts come,” he said. “[The community members] showed up because they care.”While bills are amendments to the ASWSU bylaws, Price said, resolutions go beyond ASWSU-elected members and affect all students on campus.In the future, Price envisions more communication with students, in-person and through social media, as well as developing relationships with administration.“Our next step is communicating to students who have nowhere to go to access this information,” he said.Price referenced the ASWSU Senate OrgSync page, an online hub to access Senate meeting minutes, agendas, bills, resolutions and committee meeting minutes.According to Washington State’s Open Public Meetings Act, ASWSU Senate, as a governing body with the ability to make a significant impact on the community, is required to make its meetings open to the public.“People don’t know we pass this stuff,” Price said. “For the Senate this year, we’ve done a good job of getting stuff done.”