Eleven ASWSU senators co-sponsored legislation Wednesday night that would limit representation to degree-granting colleges. If the bill passes, the Honors College will not receive a seat on the senate.
The purpose of the bill is to more clearly define the constitutional amendment passed last spring, which changes ASWSU voting districts from residential to academic. If the bill, or similar legislation that sets out rules for redistricting, is not passed before elections, the representation method will likely revert to living districts until the issue is resolved.
Recent controversy has centered on senators’ interpretation of the amendment, which was left purposefully vague. If passed, the proposed legislation would split representation into eight districts: one district would be set aside for uncertified students, one each for those certified in degree-granting colleges and one at-large district for all students.
Senate seats were apportioned to districts according to the number of degrees granted by each college, Senate Pro-Tempore Derrick Skaug said. The College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Pharmacy will both be included in the College of Arts and Sciences district due to the small number of degrees given, he said. Because students participating in the College of Nursing do not certify until they move to the Spokane campus, they will fall in the uncertified district.
Skaug said even if the bill is passed, changes can still be made.
“This bill leaves it open,” he said. “And then if another bill’s introduced to address this issue, then that would be a different concern.”
Also, he said if any details are left unresolved, the election board will decide how to best handle them.
The primary sponsor of the bill, District 1 Sen. James Cockburn, said he and other senators talked with numerous people on campus and did research on the topic before introducing the legislation to the senate.
“We felt that the intent of the constitutional amendment was to provide representation for all undergraduate, degree-granting colleges,” he said. “There are no majors under the Honors College – they give out a certificate that says you’ve graduated with honors, so they are not technically a degree-granting college.”
He said the Honors College has as much opportunity to have its voice heard as any other group on campus, and even if the current bill passes, it is possible for future legislation to grant it representation.
Cockburn said the newly proposed bill lays out the framework for the constitutional amendment. Smaller changes to the bill should be made at a later date, so as not to hinder the legislation, he said.
“This bill outlines everything we need to have fair, functional districting based on academic colleges,” he said.
District 9 Sen. Charlie Hammerich, who is a member of the Honors College, said Cockburn’s explanation was not enough, and the goal to address Honors College representation at a later date was not sufficient.
“I would ask for some sort of justification,” he said.
Rachel Wanty, co-president of the Honors Student Advisory Council, said the proposed legislation baffles her. ASWSU will not be representing all students if it does not give representation to the Honors College, and this would be a disservice, she said.
A neuroscience and Spanish double major, Wanty said many students relate more to the Honors College than their majors, which are sometimes very different fields.
“It’s really easy to find your home at Honors,” she said.
Though HSAC supports the change in representation from residential to academic, she said the Honors College must also have a seat.
“I think it’s very important in this restructuring that every student voice be heard,” she said.
District / Major/ Senate seat(s)
1 Uncertified 4
2 College of Arts and Sciences 4
3 College of Business 2
4 College of Engineering and Architecture 1
5 The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication – 1
6 College of Education 1
7 CAHNRS 1
8 All University 6
GET TO KNOW YOUR SENATORS
Name: Derrick Skaug
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Colbert, Wash.
Occupation: ASWSU Senate Pro-Tempore and District 10 senator, University Recreation marketing intern
Favorite movie: “The Shawshank Redemption”
Heroes: Family and friends
Goal for the year: “My goal is to work as hard as I can for all students and be an advocate serving the WSU community.”