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Saturday, August 8, 2020

AS Board decides not to fill vacant VP seat after Ramirez steps down

By Laurel Messenger

The Associated Students Board of Directors announced they will not be filling the AS vice president for governmental affairs position that is now vacant due to Ana Ramirez’s resignation on Monday, Feb. 5.

“We recognize that this decision may not have come easily and we applaud Ana’s efforts and willingness to serve on this board. We honor and respect her decision to resign and are thankful for what she has contributed to this organization,” AS President Simrun Chhabra said, reading the board’s statement at the end of their Feb. 7 meeting.

Chhabra then said the AS Board decided not to fill the now-vacant position. She said this is in line with the decision they made at the beginning of their terms to respect the votes of Western students, who elected Ramirez, despite going against AS bylaws.

“Our decision remains the same. Filling the position would be very decontextualized and ahistorical approach to what is fundamentally a deeply rooted symptom of white supremacy,” Chabbra said. “Approaching this issue simply by asking who fills the position simplifies and delegitimize the mass magnitude and complexity of the context and ignores the larger issue being a fundamental lack of support for undocumented students.”

The statement also said that the board has been examining how it handled the situation.

“Throughout this process, we have become acutely aware of and have had the opportunity to critique ourselves in a way that we uphold the societal norms of oppression,” Chhabra said. “Therefore, we have chosen not to fill this position because we recognize that filling it would uphold the neoliberal structures in higher education that we are committed to breaking down.”

Food pantry

During the meeting, the AS Board passed the AS food pantry funding request. The food pantry is proposed to help deal with food insecurity that some students face.

The total funding is $5,100, but will be split between three years, said AS VP for Activities Julia Rutledge.

While the original name for the pantry was going to be Viking Food Pantry, it will now be called the Western Food Pantry. This is due to negative feelings some students have toward the Western mascot, said AS VP for Student Life Annie Gordon.

Ethnic Studies Conference

Erick Yanzon, AS vice president for diversity, discussed the upcoming Ethnic Studies Conference, which will take place from March 8-11.

“It is important to continue this type of work at Western, how we can represent the identities of marginalized students,” Yanzon said.

Yanzon said there will be about eight students attending the conference and the board is still working on where they will get their funding.

Dorm safety assessment

Gordon discussed how the AS is collaborating with the residence halls to send out a safety assessment survey to students in dorms to make sure the students are feeling comfortable.

Elections Advisory Committee

The board voted to add a student-at-large position to the Elections Advisory Committee, bringing the total to eight. This is to increase the voice of the students, as not all of the current students come to every meeting.

 

This post is being updated with more information about the AS Board’s statement and meeting. All updates will be listed here.

Updated 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 7 to include information on other topics discussed at the meeting.

Updated 8:10 p.m. on Feb. 7 to reflect that the AS Board passed the food pantry and elections committee measures, instead of just discussing them.

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