New leaders set goals


ASWSU President Taylor Christenson, left, and Vice President Kyle Strachila explain their plans for the coming year.

The ASWSU leaders are beginning their term with a number of projects, from reducing the cost of class materials to improving transparency in both their own and the university’s operations.

Continuing the work of last year’s ASWSU leadership, President Taylor Christenson and Vice President Kyle Strachila said they hope to decrease the cost of non-tuition items such as textbooks, access codes and clickers.

They said because legislature granted a 15 percent decrease in tuition in recent years, ASWSU must do its part to lessen the financial burden on students. One aspect of this, they said, could be fundraising and applying for grants for professors to write their own textbooks to avoid paying textbook companies for their intellectual property.

Kansas State University, former home of WSU President Kirk Schulz, implemented a similar program, and Christenson said Schulz supports the idea, particularly for highly populated freshman classes like History 105 and Chemistry 101.

She said the progress made by ASWSU last year was largely lost due to administration shifting around, but they plan to continue conversation with the Bookie, as well as faculty and staff, about the project.

“There’s a way to do it,” Christenson said. “We just need to figure out the best way.”

One of their main lobbying topics this year will be increasing transparency across WSU. Strachila said they hope to expand the accessibility of the university budget to include the budgets of individual departments, whereas only those for entire colleges are currently available, per legal requirements.

“We’d like to see it broken down a little more than that,” Strachila said.

He said that for them to justifiably ask this, ASWSU must also be more open. After a year without a functioning website, they plan to launch a new site on the first day of school. Christenson said it will display the structure of ASWSU’s different departments and committees, as well as Senate and executive meeting minutes and all yearlong initiatives.

“(We’re) trying to be a little more transparent with students of what’s going on in our offices,” Christenson said.

Another aspect of this transparency is found in both the tuition and Services and Activities (S&A) fees students pay each year. Strachila said that though these dollar amounts are available, the format is not reader-friendly. They plan to make these more accessible to help students understand where their money is going.

“We need to be really conscientious of the way we’re pushing out that important information to students,” Christenson said.

Two of their main initiatives are the #DearWSU campaign, for students to express concerns and ideas for the university, and the “It’s On Cougs” campaign against sexual violence.

The third is the Cougar Choice Housing program, conceived during the administration of Jared Powell during the 2014-2015 school year.

Essentially a Yelp for housing near campus, it would allow inspectors to review houses and apartments and, if they pass, give them a stamp of approval.

“It’s basically going to be our way of looking after our students,” Strachila said. “Making sure that the places they’re going to live are going to be up to code.”

Christenson said she, Strachila and ASWSU staff members plan to eat in dining halls several times per month to make themselves more approachable to students, who often aren’t aware what ASWSU does or that it exists.

“I feel like that’s a huge injustice,” Strachila said, “that we are representing them on such a huge level and such a big capacity and they don’t even know who we are.

“We need to … make sure that more students know about how ASWSU can help them.”