At the tail end of the Nov. 19 Associated Students of Whittier College (ASWC) Senate meeting in Villalobos Hall, ASWC Secretary third-year Sam Johnson announced his decision to step down from Senate. Johnson joined Senate in his first year, when he was elected Vice – President of the First-year Class Council (FCC). In his second year, Johnson was elected to speak for the student athletes on Senate by the Poet Student Athlete Leadership Academy. This year, he was elected to the position of Secretary when he ran on a joint ticket alongside the rest of the current ASWC E-Board: President Detrick Manning, Vice President Yvan Monreal, and Campus Relations Director Grace Reeder.
After publicly announcing his intentions to retire from the position of Secretary, Sam Johnson read the following statement:
“ASWC Senate has been a part of my experience here at Whittier since my humble beginnings as a naive first-year student.
“Senate has shaped my time here and it has played an important role in my growth as a student. With that being said, sometimes, when unforeseen circumstances arise, you have to take a step back, and that is what I am currently doing.
“After a conversation with the rest of E-Board and our advisors, I am announcing that I am resigning as ASWC Secretary, effective immediately.
“This is a decision I have struggled with and something that I am not looking forward to, however, my mental and physical health are of greater importance and cannot be ignored.
“I will still be involved and I will still be around, but I will no longer hold my position on Executive Board. I commend all of you for serving your institution and your peers and will look forward to seeing the impact you have on . . .
. . . our community.
“As always, do not hesitate to reach out to me if you ever need anything. I’m just a phone call or text message away.”
Johnson elaborated that he stepped down due to issues with health — both physical and mental — and a sense that his time commitment to Senate was keeping him from focusing on his education. “I think the thing that people forget is that we are here to get our education first and foremost, and that should be the greatest priority,” said Johnson. “I [also] felt as though I could not dedicate enough time to the position of Secretary. Everything that I was doing in my position was very baseline. I was meeting all the requirements and doing everything that I needed to do; however, I was not doing anything above and beyond.”
According to Monreal, “[Johnson] had talked to [Manning] — I think the Thursday or Friday before — [Manning is] obviously supporting him through the decision [to step down from ASWC Senate].” Monreal explained that E-Board would select a Senator to promote to the position of Secretary, rather than holding an election, as they would like to choose someone for Executive Board that they know they can work with. Also, one of the responsibilities of Secretary is to chair the Senate Elections Committee. “It’s difficult to have an election without the Chair of the Elections Committee,” said Monreal.
The Senate Secretary does more than chair Elections Committee. For example, they are responsible for taking minutes during each Senate meeting. “Taking minutes” refers to a list, made during each meeting, of all notable actions taken or proposed over the course of the meeting. At the following week’s meeting, Senate votes on whether or not to approve the minutes and post them on the ASWC Senate OrgSync account. They will also perform a number of clerical actions such as — according to the ASWC Senate Constitution — taking attendance at meetings, and keeping ASWC files accurate and updated. “There’s other logistical stuff that [the Secretary does] within the Executive Board. If we need new ink or something, they have to order the new ink — just things like that,” said Monreal.
Promoting from within Senate means that a new seat is left vacant, and Senate will need to choose a new Whittier student to fill that position. Monreal said that E-Board hopes to fill all vacant positions before the end of the semester. “We want to, ideally, [fill] these positions as soon as possible so we can [prepare] them,” said Monreal, “as opposed to throwing someone in there right at the start of the next semester.”
To that end, Senate appointed first-year Austin Correia to the position of Residential Hall Representative at the Nov. 26 Senate meeting, and opened applications for FCC positions earlier the same day. FCC elections typically take place in late September, long before Johnson decided to step down. In the absence of a Secretary, Manning will oversee the FCC elections.
While he is taking a break, Johnson does not yet know if this is his last year serving on Senate. “I will be back next year,” said Johnson. “My aspiration has always been to be [ASWC] President, so whether that is still on the table, I could not tell you right now, but as we get closer to next year, and closer to end the year elections, who knows … It has been a good run, we will see where the rest of my time [here] takes me.”