Editor's note: This story has been amended to clarify it took Britta Eschete 12 years to consider pursuing an advanced degree, not running for Graduate School Senator … The clarification was made to a quotation from an interview with Eschete at their request.
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 Student Senate candidates. For coverage on AS Executive Board candidates, click here.
AS Student Senate
The AS Student Senate serves as the legislative body of the AS and is comprised of 21 senators, including two senators from each college as well as from the general student population. The senate drafts, approves and releases resolutions on issues brought to them and approves any changes to the charge and charter of the AS Election Board.
The Front had the opportunity to speak with four of 30 total senate candidates: Christopher Rosenquist, Lola Thompson, Sebastian Mayotte and Britta Eschete. A full Student Senate election guide can be found on the AS website.
Christopher Rosenquist (he/him)
Christopher Rosenquist is running for one of four At-Large Senator positions, which represent the interests of all students on campus, especially those who have not declared a major.
Rosenquist is currently a first-year student and believes this gives him an insight into representing underclassmen’s needs.
“I’ve learned a lot about the challenges that freshmen face and I think that being there as a sophomore in the AS, I can really represent those younger students’ interests,” Rosenquist said.
Rosenquist has experience working for his high school’s student government and currently is a member of the Enrollment and Student Services Advisory Committee at Western. Through his work with the ESS, he has learned a lot about Western's administration and plans to apply that experience to the AS.
As At-Large Senator, Rosenquist will listen to students’ needs and collaborate with Western administration to find solutions.
Rosenquist plans to focus on boosting mental health resources and counseling services for students, as well as building community in a post-pandemic world through AS events.
Rosenquist supports the unionization of student workers. He will bring student workers’ concerns to the AS and collaborate with employers and Western administration to meet their needs.
“I want to make sure we are really focusing on student problems and coming up with concrete solutions to help people,” he said.
Lola Thompson (she/her)
Lola Thompson is running for one of two College of the Environment Senator seats. She has won Community and Analysis Awards at the WWU Debate Tournament, highlighting her communication and negotiation skills.
As College of the Environment Senator, Thompson will represent students’ needs by deciding how to support programs and what the College of the Environment needs to prioritize.
Thompson was motivated to run for this position because she hopes to help identify and remedy failures by the university.
“It’s important to have a really critical lens, which I’d be able to provide,” she said.
Thompson will work to make Western’s Disability and Access Center more accessible by increasing funding, relocating to a more central location and improving employee training.
She also plans to improve university digital systems and automation. Currently, there are too many disconnected sites, making the system hard to navigate and overwhelming, especially for new students, she said.
“There needs to be a centralized network to better access and integrate these systems,” she said.
Thompson supports student workers and unionization. She will push for better wages, working conditions and schedule flexibility. She also supports Shred the Contract, and a transitionary plan to invest in self-run dining halls.
“Anything short of [self-run dining halls] is doomed to fail,” she said.
Sebastian Mayotte (he/him)
Sebastian Mayotte is running for one of two College of Humanities and Social Sciences Senator seats.
He is triple-majoring in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Political Science/Philosophy/Economics and History and triple-minoring in Law, Diversity and Justice, Human Rights and Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He is also involved in a variety of clubs and organizations.
Mayotte, who transferred from Whatcom Community College two years ago, loves the Western community and hopes to get more involved as CHSS Senator.
“I’ve wanted to get more involved, see what I can change and see how I can start advocating for the community,” he said.
As CHSS Senator, Mayotte will represent the student body by being active within the community, showing up to events and being present at clubs in order to bring students’ interests to the senate.
Mayotte is an advocate for Shred the Contract and moving toward self-run dining halls with more ethical practices. He is also passionate about addressing the economic concerns of marginalized students.
Mayotte supports the unionization of student workers and hopes to move forward in a way that puts workers first.
“A big part of that is going to be listening to workers, supporting unionization efforts and any efforts to increase their collective bargaining power,” he said.
Mayotte is excited to be a part of the Western community and hopes to bring passionate energy to the senate.
“This is a wonderful community and I’d love the opportunity to represent it more,” he said.
Britta Eschete (she/her)
Britta Eschete is running for one of two Graduate School Senator seats. She graduated from Western with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology in 1998 and is currently pursuing her Master of Education and working for the WWU Career Services Center.
She also has experience serving on several community boards and has maintained an active role with the Classified Staff Union on campus representing administrative staff.
"It took me 12 years of working at Western to consider [pursuing my advanced degree] seriously, and I feel that waiting was the best decision because what I am learning is applicable to what I am doing at and outside of Western," she wrote in an email.
Eschete will use her experience to represent the interests of graduate students, especially those who commute significant distances, participate at Western extension sites or participate in evening programs.
She will also communicate with graduate student members of WAWU to learn about their struggles, victories and opportunities as student employees. She hopes unionization will help work toward the goal of a stronger, more equitable Western.
Eschete will bring the perspective of an older student with extensive experience at Western as an alumna, current staff member and graduate student.
“I graduated from Western over 25 years ago and some of the same struggles that I experienced as a student continue to impact the students of today, likely the students of tomorrow,” she said.
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.