The majority of students at Whittier College have little or no say concerning the running of their major’s department. The ASWC Senate is currently advocating for a formal relationship between students and departments. This relationship would be characterized by the formation of Departmental Student Councils (DSCs).
This push by ASWC began with the Student Academic Affairs and Involvement Bill. The conception of the bill, which was passed last Spring and came into effect this Fall, was brought to ASWC by President Elect Amer Rashid and aided by the then-Vice President Robert Duarte, and former Senators Katya Murillo and Brittnie Vargas ’15. This bill created a new governing body within ASWC Senate called the Academic Affairs Council, which now has a representative sitting on Senate.
This past year, Vice President-elect Sofia Dueñas was that representative. “Departmental Student Councils give students the opportunity to advocate for themselves within each major department,” Dueñas said. “No formal mechanism to advocate for academics existed and DSCs provide an opportunity for students to organize themselves to spark meaningful, lasting change.”
Potential benefits of DSC also include the strengthening of ASWC Senate funded academic events and the creation of more structured academic communities here at Whittier College.
One the few DSCs currently in existence, the Department of Business Administration DSC, is currently in its infancy. “Departmental Student Councils are important because they increase academic ownership and engagement of students at Whittier College,” said sophomore Aaron Shreve, the current treasurer of the department of Business Administration DSC. “They allow students to have a voice and this facilitates an active academic community. Although this counsel is in its first year, Shreve has high hopes for the future of the council and is hopeful that it can provide student input that will benefit their department.
This pressure by ASWC Senate to create student councils for each department has received mixed feedback. “Many departments have been fully cooperative with this bill,” said Rashid. “However, some are reluctant to create DSCs because they feel that certain powers such as the review of hiring and tenure process should not be privy to students.”
Regardless of backlash from certain departments on campus that are reluctant or dismissive concerning student counsels having a voice in their departments, ASWC Senate is continuing to assert that all departments should include a student counterpart. “Our goal is to get as many DSCs as possible and add pressure to their departments to allow their voices to be heard,” said Rashid.