Student leaders reflect on term


ASWSU President Taylor Christenson, left, and Vice President Kyle Strachila discuss their experiences in office.

JESSICA ZHOU, Evergreen assistant news editor

The current ASWSU president and vice president will soon relinquish office to their successors, leaving behind a legacy they see as characterized by greater efficiency in student government and improved relationships.

“It’s bittersweet leaving all the best and worst things of WSU,” President Taylor Christenson said.

The first woman since 2004 to serve as ASWSU president, Christenson said she loved that she was able to create connections through the job with people she never would have met otherwise. She said she built solid relationships with both the ASWSU Senate and staff, as well as the WSU administration.

Christenson said she and Kyle Strachila, her vice president, were friends before they began their campaign together. They complemented each other, she said, because while she was a dreamer, he kept her grounded. She built external relationships while Strachila developed those within ASWSU.

“I think what we did best was actually deliver on our campaign promises, improving inefficiencies we saw in the organization,” Strachila said. “We didn’t run with any big-ticket items, we just saw some inefficiencies we wanted to improve.”

Christenson, who served as the Panhellenic Council president the year before she ran for ASWSU, said she thought ASWSU had been heavily Greek-focused in the past. Now, she said, ASWSU has done a good job of collaborating with other organizations and this year had a great relationship with the Student Entertainment Board.

Strachila said he attributes the success of their term to their humility and willingness to admit when they needed to ask about something.

“I think listening a lot to your adviser is important,” he said, “because it’s easy to get elected to a position like this and feel like you have all the power and that means you have to know all the answers for everything.”

Christenson said delegating tasks to Senate members and staff benefited everyone in the long run.

“It is necessary to be able to delegate important projects and tasks,” she said. “It is going to make them better leaders and take things off of your plate.”

The passion and hard work she saw in both of this year’s campaigns reminded her of her own campaign, she said.

Strachila said he and Christenson were very focused on the election night and the end result. Although the job does not officially start until the Leadership and Engagement Awards of Distinction event in mid-April, he said the new president and vice president elects hit the ground running right away.

“What I didn’t realize necessarily was after election night, the very next day it kind of begins,” he said.

Christenson said she felt like she was responsible for any issue on campus, especially with recent political unrest across the country and on campus.

“The weight of feeling like every problem is your problem is mentally exhausting,” she said, “but really good too.”

Christenson said she set a precedent with President Kirk Schulz of establishing relationships with the WSU administration, so they recognize ASWSU as a serious organization.

Strachila is currently working on allocating money to a series focused on bringing major names to campus for speaking events. He said he wants to have the series implemented before their successors take over.

In their final weeks in office, both Strachila and Christenson said they will continue working on projects that won’t be fully completed until after they are gone.

They are both wrapping up what will be five years at WSU, although Christenson hinted at applying for graduate school at WSU.

“It’s … the most pivotal, transformational year of my life,” she said. “This was really hard and we probably could have done a lot of things better, but it was such a learning experience. I can walk away feeling like I had some sort of impact on the school.”