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A Viking’s guide to student government

The functions, divisions, roles of AS Government

The Associated Students Activities Council meets to discuss various topics. The Activities Council is one of several student-led committees, tasked with managing club funding, recognizing clubs and more. // Photo by Joshua Grambo

The Western Washington University Associated Students government’s main purposes are to help organize funding and other projects as well as represent student interests on campus.

Despite its standing as a key fixture of campus, many students, particularly new ones, have limited knowledge about the AS government and the extent of its reach on campus.

"What do they do? Do they just organize events or do they have some sort of fundraising structure?" asked Western first-year Cole Ruklic, who came to Western this quarter from Idaho.

There are many different duties fulfilled by the AS government, which are split between two primary branches.

The Student Senate is one branch. It contains two elected representatives from each of the eight colleges on campus, along with four at-large representatives for students with undeclared majors.

“The Student Senate deals a lot more with academics, because we have two people from every college serving on that, and then we have four at-large members, and one non-voting — except for ties or certain things — student for senate president,” said Associated Students President Keara Ryan.

The Executive Board is made up of seven student representatives, including the AS president.

"It deals a lot more with student services and student affairs on campus, so everything outside the academic realm," Ryan said.

The Associated Students government, primarily the Executive Board, is involved in a large number of committees that help manage funds from student fees.

Many of these committees have open seats that anyone can apply for. This includes freshmen and transfer students who are interested in getting involved in campus politics.

"A lot of decisions are made within committees because the Executive Board gives their power to committees ... and almost all of these have open at-large seats right now," Ryan said.

Students can apply for committee positions in the "Forms" section of the Western Involvement Network website. Currently, students can apply for the vacant Vice President for Activities role on the AS Executive Board.

According to a peer-reviewed 2022 article published in Research in Educational Administration & Leadership, when students participate in stronger structures of student government, they are more likely to have an impact on their campus and other political structures.

Western committees such as the Sustainability, Equity, & Justice Fund and the Student Tech Fee Committee have actively open slots, with more listed on the Associated Students website. Students can apply for these committees in the “Forms” section of the Western Involvement Network website.

According to Ryan, each committee manages a different pool of money that is acquired via student fees. They determine how to spend that money and get chances to create policies.

Western’s next Associated Students elections are arranged to take place in spring quarter, and  input from the whole student body is welcome.

“I would use all of my voting power, I always believe in things like that, but I just don't know where to go," said Ruklic.

During the election period, students can use the Western Involvement Network  to vote.The Viking Union will also offer additional resources and information.

According to a 2005 peer-reviewed study on voter turnout in student elections published by Cambridge University Press, it was found that though election turnout varies heavily between universities, on average only about 18% of students voted in student elections, a turnout far lower than almost any other kind of election.

AS Executive Board meetings can be attended by anyone, and include a public comment period. They take place every Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Viking Union room 567.

Additionally, the AS President has open office hours on Monday and Wednesday from 10 to 11:15 a.m and 1 to 2 p.m., with additional hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. She can be reached at

Joshua Grambo

Joshua Grambo (he/him) is a campus news reporter and journalism/news editorial major in his second year at Western. Outside of the Front, Joshua enjoys reading, playing dungeons and dragons, spending time with family, and working on craft projects. You can reach him at

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