Following the Feb. 15 exodus of Campus Relations Director fourth-year Eryn Wells, Residential Hall Representative second year Nati Yitayew, and First-Year Class (FCC) President Jenna Gelinas, Associated Students of Whittier College (ASWC) Senate has been forced to deal with their vacancies and determine if its really worth electing new officials to hold office for less than two months.
At the Senate meeting on Monday, Feb. 15, Wells, Yitayew, and Gelinas resigned from Senate, citing discriminatory practices by certain members of Whittier’s administration as their reasons for leaving. Senate has a process in place to replace retiring members. “When positions are vacated,” said Student Athlete Representative second-year Sam Johnson, “the table votes whether or not we would like an election or an appointment via President Scurr.” Senate choose to appoint Gelinas’ FCC Vice-President, first-year Destiny Barrientos, to take over as FCC President. Well’s position as Campus Relations Director was also appointed and filled internally, through the promotion of Student Body Representative first-year Kole Joachim. Senate chose to run an election through Orgsync to fill the positions of Student Body Representative and Residential Hall Representative.
However, finding new candidates proved to be a bit of a problem. “We had two appointments to do tonight,” said ASWC Secretary fourth-year Hannah Martin, “however, nobody applied for the Residential Hall Representative, [or] for the Student Body Representative, so, E-Board has made a decision that we will not be filling those positions.”
Martin and Johnson both claim that this decision to close the application process was largely one of efficiency. “[E-Board made the] executive decision to close the application for a multitude of reasons,” said Johnson. “Given that the year is almost over, given that we’re about to enter a new election cycle for all the positions next year . . . It takes a lot of time [to train a new senator], and given that we only have [less than two months] of school left, it’s not really an effective use of our time.” Secretary Martin agrees. “We’re having bigger elections coming up,” she said, “and we don’t want to be running two separate elections, one for a position that’s [only] going to be filled for [about] six weeks.” Johnson believes that, despite being down one Student Body Representative and having no Residential Hall Representative, Senate will still be able to function as a voice for the student body of Whittier.
“We currently have three [Student body Representatives] sitting on the table, we didn’t feel as though that the fourth needed to be added now,” said Johnson. The Student Body Representatives represent, as the title says, the student body . While there are four, they do not each represent a year, rather they listen to the Whittier student body and take on projects that they view as worthwhile for Whittier’s population. According to Johnson, Second-year Grace Reeder spends a lot of her time advocating for underrepresented populations on Campus, third-year Lilly Grossman works to keep the school ADA accessible, and second-year Piper Lowinger is currently working to improve visibility for drivers along Earlham Drive. While he was a Student Body Representative, Joachim worked to improve the accessibility of feminine hygiene products on campus and implement waterless urinals.
According to Johnson, Yitayew was responsible for dealing with student concerns about living in the Residential Halls. His focus, before leaving Senate, was largely on working to reduce theft in the Residential Halls. “He was speaking with Tea Bogue to see if we could implement more security cameras on campus, [to] better safety for our students, but also to be able to resolve some theft issues so our students aren’t getting charged for that.”
While no concrete plans are in place as of yet, Johnson has stated, “[There is a] possibility of the current Student Body Representatives assuming the responsibilities of [Residential Hall Representative].” He has also stated that Senate is still moving forward with Yitayew’s camera project. “Campus Relations Committee members will be taking over the security camera proposal as a group [and] continue the conversation with Residential Life,” he wrote in a text.
Johnson has also stated that, “regardless of whether or not the position of Residential Hall Representative is filled, the issues relating to Residential Halls will continue to be a priority of all our senators.”
Whittier College students will be able to elect next year’s Residential Hall Representative and Student Body Representatives alongside every other Senate position in the upcoming ASWC Senate Elections in late April.