The Associated Students Board is beginning the process of restructuring to divide their duties.
One proposed change is reinstituting the student senate after a four-year hiatus. The senate was suspended in 2013 for lack of direction and went through review, according to AS Board minutes from 2014.
Academic matters would be referred to the senate, rather than the AS Board. The number of senators from each college would be proportional to the percent of students in the colleges.
Students will vote on a proposed constitution in this spring’s election which will go into effect fall 2018. Upon approval, the new constitution would go before the Western Board of Trustees.
AS Vice President for Governmental Affairs Bryce Hammer supports the proposed changes.
“There are seven elected board members that try their best to represent 15,000 students,” Hammer said. “Because of the amount of things we have to do, we are not always able to communicate with the students that we represent to the best of our ability.”
The heavy workload the AS endures is too much for the limited staffing in the organizations, Hammer said. Staff members feel they are overworking themselves to meet student needs and fulfill day-to-day duties.
The redistribution of duties would allow the Board to increase focus on advocacy, Hammer said.
Also proposed is the creation of a programming council to give AS programs and services more control over matters concerning them, Hammer said.
Sabrina Houck, the AS Board program coordinator, is optimistic about the proposed changes underway. There are many aspects of the AS that have not been optimized due to understaffing and ignorance about what the AS does, Houck said.
“If we’re not engaging with the students and having their needs met, then we’re failing as an organization.”
Sabrina Houck, AS Board Program Coordinator
She referred to events, advocacy and support services; as well as being a bridge among faculty, administration and students, as resources the AS provides.
Houck said she hopes more students can interact with the AS, which is the ultimate goal of the changes.
“If we’re not engaging with the students and having their needs met, then we’re failing as an organization,” Houck said.
AS Assistant Director for Student Activities Lisa Rosenberg and Assistant Dean for Student Engagement Director Eric Alexander agree.
“Two key hopes are that workload issues [are solved] and ultimately through that, how the board can serve students is enhanced,” Rosenberg said.
The addition of a strong student senate would bring greater opportunities for student and faculty voices to be heard, Alexander said.
The AS Board will present the changes to the Board of Trustees on April 21, according to Houck.