More than 50 Honors College students piled into the ASWSU Senate room Wednesday night to petition for representation next academic year when a new constitutional amendment goes into effect.
The amendment, which senators passed last spring, states that senate seats will be allocated according to college instead of by living district.
Tyler Claus, vice president for the Honors Student Advisory Council (HSAC), spoke on behalf of the Honors College students. According to the amendment, the senate must grant all academic colleges at least one seat in the senate next year, Claus said.
“The Honors College has a curriculum that is independent of the regular university that must be represented at the university level,” he said. “It would be unconstitutional to deny the Honors College an ASWSU senator.”
A senator from the college would not contribute to overrepresentation because the Honors College students are diverse in majors and extracurricular activities, he said. Also, HSAC would enable the Honors College senator to efficiently communicate with and represent constituents. Claus said Honors students often relate to that college more than the colleges of their specific fields.
“You see, most of us Honors student feel more at home in the Honors College than we do in our major college,” he said. “To deny the Honors College a senator … is to deny every Honors student proper representation at the university level."
Sen. Charlie Hammerich represents District 9, which encompasses the Honors Hall. He is also an Honors student, and said he thinks the college should have its own senator.
Because Honors students have unique academic needs, they should have special representation in the senate, Hammerich said. Though the amendment states each academic college gets at least one senate seat, he said many aspects of the implementation are still undecided.
“When it was passed last year, some said it was intentionally left kind of vague so we had some room to change it,” he said. “Then again, it is an amendment so the words are in stone. Of course there can always be another amendment to change it, but we’ll see how all that goes out.”
Hammerich said the senate has been considering several different ways to set up the senate seats within the amendment guidelines, but senators have not yet reached an agreement.
Senate Pro Tempore Derrick Skaug agreed and said the issue is still being debated. He liked the strong showing of Honors students, he said.
To decide whether to grant the Honors College a seat, the senate would need to find how many people graduate under the program. Senators also need to create a clear definition of a college, he said.
“I think everyone in senate thinks Honors is a great, great program,” Skaug said. “We value what they do, but at the end of the day, we need to make a concrete definition of what constitutes a college.”
He said the fact that Honors students receive certificates does not necessarily make them part of a college. Athletes get certificates, too, he said.
“Right now we have two senators from the Honors College, and I think it’s great,” Skaug said. “I think that the Honors College program has some of the most accomplished students, so if they wanted to run, they wouldn’t have much of a problem getting a seat.”
PROFILE BOX WITH SENATOR’S MUG:
Name: Charlie Hammerich
Hometown: Bonanza, Ore.
Occupation: District 9 senator
Favorite movie: Any Will Ferrell movie
Hero: Nikola Tesla
Goal for the year: “My goal is to set up the bylaws in accordance with the constitutional amendment in a way that is beneficial to the whole student body.”