Western Washington University’s Associated Students student government is holding elections for the 2023-24 academic year. The voting period is open Monday, May 1 through Friday, May 5 at 4 p.m.
Ballots can be accessed online at any time and are kept confidential. To access the site, students must log in to the Western Involvement Network using their Western username and password in order to ensure a fair election, according to AS Elections Coordinator Jonathan Salazar.
Salazar and the Office of Civic Engagement are holding a voter assistance table in the Viking Union to help address student questions or concerns about voting. The table will be open throughout the voting period from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“I'm excited to see campaigning. I'm always curious to see what candidates come up with when trying to get their message heard across campus,” Salazar said in an email.
Editor’s note: The Front had the opportunity to interview seven candidates in an open interview session, as well as over email. Read on to learn more about their candidacy and policies. This story is focused on AS Executive Board candidates. For coverage on AS Student Senate candidates, click here.
AS Executive Board
The AS Executive Board is a governing body of the AS that represents student interests by passing resolutions to enact change. It is comprised of seven seats, including AS President, Senate President and five Vice President positions. The Front interviewed three of 12 executive board candidates: Keara Ryan, Liam Pratt and Valerie Alaniz. A full executive board election guide can be found on the AS website.
Keara Ryan (she/her)
Keara Ryan is running for AS President, a position which represents the student body’s and the AS’s interests to external governing bodies and the university President. The AS President serves as the chief administrative and financial officer of the AS, as well as the spokesperson and chair of the AS Executive Board of Directors.
Ryan has experience working with the AS Office of Civic Engagement. She was also appointed Student Trustee by Gov. Jay Inslee, allowing her to build relationships with Western administrators, faculty, staff and the WWU Board of Trustees.
As AS President, Ryan plans to focus on four main points: community, sustainability, accountability and connect.
Ryan will continue working with the Chief Diversity Officer and Western’s Access, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Unit of Enrollment and Student Services to support Western’s community.
“Students need to be central in all university advancement work,” she said.
Ryan will promote sustainability by collaborating with the VP for Sustainability to increase transparency of university sustainability practices.
In regards to accountability, Ryan will ensure student dollars spent within the AS are being used to meet student needs and promote thriving student life while being aware of budget challenges.
Ryan will also focus on promoting connection between the student body and the AS. Drawing on her experience at the Office of Civic Engagement, she will support committees that have been struggling post-pandemic.
Ryan hopes to be a facilitator of conversations between students and administrators as well as within the AS.
“I really want to be an advocate for students and hear their concerns,” she said.
Liam Pratt (he/him)
Liam Pratt is running for VP for Sustainability, a position that represents students’ interests in matters relating to social and environmental sustainability. The VP for Sustainability also oversees the AS Environmental and Sustainability Programs Office and chairs the Sustainability Equity and Justice Fund.
Pratt currently holds a position as an At-Large Senator and is co-founder and president of the Students for Climate Action organization. He also has extensive experience with local sustainability and climate action clubs and organizations.
As an At-Large Senator, Pratt did a deep dive into university sustainability practices and will use that research to enact change.
“As VP for Sustainability, I’ll be able to take all that investigative work and start implementing it into different policies for the university and start pushing us in a more sustainable direction,” he said.
He will also ensure the university stays in accordance with the sustainability action plan, especially when it comes to budget cuts.
“I’ll make sure that when it comes time to look at the budget and allocate resources, that sustainability isn’t ignored,” he said.
As At-Large Senator, Pratt voted in favor of supporting Western Academic Workers United and is a card-carrying member of the organization. Going forward, he will continue to support student workers by combining sustainability and labor rights.
Valerie Alaniz (she/her)
Valerie Alaniz is running for VP for Governmental Affairs, a position that represents student interests throughout local, state and federal legislative bodies. The VP for Governmental Affairs also oversees the creation of the AS Legislative Agenda, Western Lobby Day, Western Intersectional Lobby Day and the AS Office of Civic Engagement.
Alaniz participated in Western’s 2023 Intersectional Lobby Day, where she met with local legislators to advocate for mental health funding for veterans and people with disabilities.
She also has experience participating in local school district advisory through the Parent Teacher Advisory and Parent Teacher Organization.
Alaniz will focus on the impacts legislative action for drug and crime reformation have on Western and the local community.
As a mother, Alaniz understands the challenges of being a student while raising a family. She supported WAWU at Western’s 2023 Intersectional Lobby Day and will advocate for fair, living wages for student workers.
“I would be a facilitator between Western's AS student body, along with legislative actions and procedures,” Alaniz wrote in an email. “I would work with local, federal, and executive governments as well as lobby relations."
Thalia Coulter (she/her) is a campus news reporter for The Front. She is in her second year at Western and is a public relations major with a Spanish minor. When not on campus or at work, Thalia can be found grabbing a bite to eat downtown with friends. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.