Meet the Associated Students Board of Directors

By Ellis Thomson

The key word is accessibility.

Every spring at Western, students vote a fresh round of student representatives into the Associated Students Board of Directors. It is their job to access and assist the needs of the general student body. They oversee over 175 committees, staff, student employees and oversee and support all AS programs. It’s a big job and they know it.

Photo courtesy of the AS

Millka Solomon: AS President

Why is the Associated Students important?

The Associated Students are students for students. So, many of the events that you’ll see posters for, like the Outback Farm or movies that happen outside, have students doing them. A lot of those students are in the AS.

What is the role of the AS President?

The big job is going over and approving operating budgets for the AS. This is like how much money the AS needs to function. I’m super interested in it.

Representing students. The president’s job is to understand students’ needs and take that information to the administration.

Sounds like a difficult task. How do you go about doing this?

Traditionally, the idea is that office hours would accomplish this. But office hours are really underutilized, so we are planning outside office hours.

Outside office hours would allow me to physically go to Red Square, or the rec center or wherever students are, so I can set up a booth and say hello.

How can freshmen get involved in AS?

Go to the Info Fair! The AS has its own fair, and every club is going to be there. We have like 200 clubs.

What issues are you hoping to address this year?

I really want to work on having a college of ethnic studies. We used to have one and reviving that and having more ethics classes would be great.

I also really want to have more school spirit by building community and getting people excited. I feel like it’s a more fun school experience. People care more about each other and are more engaged in the community.

Photo courtesy of the AS

Levi Eckman: AS Vice President for Academic Affairs

Why is the Associated Students important?

The biggest thing for freshman to know is that the AS is here to support students. It is not the seven of us sitting evilly behind closed doors, laughing and snickering as we make a ton of decisions without students. It really is support for students.

All of the board members make sure that each other are acting in this role of shared governance, which I think is a concept kind of special to Western, where administration and faculty and students all kind of make choices together.

What is the role of the Associated Students Vice President for Academic Affairs?

I serve as the liaison between students and administration regarding academics and work with the faculty governance to kind of say, ‘How can we make sure this is all accessible to students?’

What issues are you hoping to address this year?

Next year, I will be working on re-establishing a Student Senate. This is a lofty goal. But for three years now, this position has wanted to have the Student Senate reenacted. The most important barrier is that students are not paid for their work very often. We cannot ask students to do these jobs, work extra hours and not pay them for their work.

I would like to help continue the work on college outreach and specifically looking at how GURs are accessible to students and making sure we are accounting for GURs for students with identities that are traditionally underrepresented in our community.

How can freshmen get involved in AS?

There are clubs! That is an amazing way to get involved. Last year, I was the secretary of the Arab Language and Culture Organization. I thought that was such a fun experience and such a nice community to be a part of.

I have to be really real when I say if students don’t get involved, that is a bummer choice and you are just hurting yourself at the end of four years here. Or two years, for our transfers. Get involved!

There is a million and one ways, and if you are ever curious, my office is VU 504E and I will plug you in with the person that will get you involved. I pinky promise. Anytime. Anywhere.

Photo courtesy of the AS

Anne Lee: AS Vice President for Student Life

Why is the Associated Students important?

The Associated Students is you as a student with some elected leaders to represent you in the larger university.

What is the role of the Associated Students Vice President for Student Life?

I serve on the Board of Directors, and I represent student voices in housing, dining, transportation and sustainability.

What issues are you hoping to address this year?

Safety, security, housing and transportation are the big ones. It’s really about ensuring that students have access to their shuttle for late-night traveling.

There is also conversation around the best way to create access, knowledge and structure for gender-inclusive student housing.

For sustainability, we are looking at a couple of things. Our campus is known as a water bottle free campus, but there is current work by students in the environmental realm to transition into a plastic-free campus.

How can freshmen get involved in AS?

Employment on campus. It’s flexible with class hours, a great way to get involved and make money. Our student employment page has lots of AS jobs open as well as opportunities throughout the year.

Photo courtesy of the AS

Ama Monkah: AS Vice President

Why is the Associated Students important?

AS gives you the opportunity to voice your opinion outside of a classroom in more of an extracurricular setting. Use that as an opportunity to grow and express your interest in different aspects of the university.

What is the role of the Associated Students Vice President for Activities?

If clubs request money for certain events, it’s my job to ask them questions about why they are requesting it, and whether or not that request is effective. I can also approve new clubs to the AS Club Hub.

Also, I have the ability to appoint people to sit on different committees, and if people approach me on different projects that they are interested in, I can advocate for them and help that project exist.

What issues are you hoping to address this year?

I want to try and do more engagement kind of stuff. A lot of times, the students that don’t come to the VU and don’t come to AS, don’t really know about it and miss out on being a part of things that are outside the academic world.

I also want people to understand what types of money they can find to make their events successful.

How can freshmen get involved in AS?

Freshmen can also walk into the VU at any time! If people want to contact me, they are always welcome to come to my office at VU 504D.  Having students interests at heart, that’s what we want.

Natasha Hessami: AS Vice Presidents for Governmental Affairs

Why is the Associated Students important?

As an organization that is funded by students run by students, it’s a really great way to get involved in campus life.

What is the role of the Associated Students Vice President for Governmental Affairs?

I support the Representation and Engagement Programs Office, which is sort of a political activism office here at Western. I also plan and execute Western Lobby Day, which is taking about 120 students down to Olympia in the winter to lobby directly to state legislature.

We generate the legislative lobby agenda for Western. As Western students, we have lobby power. I help figure out which topics Western will be focusing on this year.

What issues are you hoping to address this year?

Increasing civic engagement, that’s definitely going be a big push. It’s a midterm year, and local elections really matter. We have a lot of seats up for grabs in our local and state elections.

I will also be really focusing on college affordability. Lobbying on the state level to increase funding to State Need Grants and also to make [them]an entitlement program to extend eligibility to the State Need Grant.

We are also going to be working on support for undocumented students and expand the pre-health track with more courses, classes and faculty.

How can freshmen get involved in S?

The absolute best way to get involved as a freshman is to apply to committees. They are a smaller time commitment and often only meet two to four times a month. There are about 200 seats for students on AS and university committees that are open to any Western student.

You apply, and the board of director approves. There are committees that range from Legislative Affairs Council, to Social Justice and Equity Committee to Parking & Appeals Board.

It’s a really good way to figure out what your interests are and expand your involvement into next year.

The Western Front reached out to ASVP for Diversity Camilla Mejiaare and ASVP for Business and Operations Genaro Meza. Neither were available for comment.

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