JOSEPH GARDNER | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
The ASWSU Senate is a significant part of student representation at WSU. While the senate positively impacts students in many ways, the lack of direct elections for the freshman delegate position is deeply troubling.
Improving mental health services, community outreach, maintaining student employment rights and combating sexual assault are just a few of the vitally important responsibilities held by the ASWSU.
“We are here to be the voice of the students,” ASWSU President Quinton Berkompas said.
Having the voice of students heard clearly and accurately in ASWSU is integral to representing what makes WSU great, its student body. Freshmen make up about a quarter of the student body. Having these thousands of students not be able to select their representation undercuts the voice that students need and deserve.
Comprised of 24 members, the ASWSU Senate is responsible for representing both the general student body at WSU and its various colleges. There are senators for the general student body, senators for each academic college and senators for uncertified majors and transfer students. If students feel the need to change an unfair rule at the university, they can contact their senator to see this rule addressed.
Of the 24 senators, 22 are elected directly by the student population the year before they begin their term. The other two members are not elected by the student body, they instead are appointed by the senate.
This means that the incoming class of students each year, despite making up roughly a quarter of all students, gets zero direct votes for who their representative is in the ASWSU Senate.
However, the current appointment-based system is not without reason. In order to have an election for ASWSU positions, an election board must be assembled to establish rules and transparency for the election.
At the beginning of the year, when incoming students are first starting to go to classes, the election board is often not assembled yet.
This means that elections cannot physically take place until spring.
However, this is not the nail in the coffin for direct voting of the freshman delegate position. A potential solution to this problem is to confirm the election board the year before the election.
This would enable incoming students to vote directly for their delegates, giving them not only the representation they deserve, but a reason early on to become engaged in ASWSU.
This needs to happen. This lack of representation for freshmen is wrong. It doesn’t encourage students to get involved with ASWSU and share their perspective. The very goal of ASWSU is to make sure students have a say, and giving freshmen zero say in their voice is blatantly hypocritical of that goal.
“Having elections for those freshman delegate positions would be a lot better for freshman students, because it immediately gets them engaged,” Berkompas said.
Having an engaged student body is vital to a successful ASWSU, as they would be directionless without active feedback from the students that they represent.
While ASWSU has fulfilled this job in the past, increasing student participation can only serve to make the ASWSU senate better, and further the already high standards WSU has in place already.