By Akerah Mackey
Last week an article which was ran in The Collegian about the Associated Students of Willamette University (ASWU) saw the same unfactual and inaccurate writing people expect from the Trump Administration. It seems as though the world around us has forgotten the difference between opinions and facts, and what is more problematic is the desire to continue this trend. I am writing this article to correct the negligence and inaccuracy of last week’s article. ASWU is nothing like the Trump administration, as the previous article may have tried to use as a comparison, because we are fighting everyday for the student body we serve regardless of race, class or creed.
As students or as members of society we must be willing to check the facts before allowing opinions to dominate political, social and environmental circles. As the University moves into another year of crushing budget cuts in search of a more sustainable and financially feasible university, student services have been cut or defunded by administrators. ASWU over the last year has worked tirelessly to save and create more services for students in light of this.
It is no secret that ASWU worked on Bishop Wellness Center; but did you know we also help fund services like the Willamette Emergency Medical System (WEMS) and Sexual Assault Response Allies (SARA)? Last year department budgets shrank in size leaving services on Willamette’s campus cut or underfunded. But, ASWU senators and its executive members did not complain or raise students fees to continue these services, we simply made room in our budget to secure these services. When ASWU got news that WEMS and SARA did not have secured funding at the beginning of the year we stepped up and stepped in. The same way our Outdoor Program, WEB and The Collegian have secured funding year to year, ASWU believes WEMS and SARA’s life-saving services should as well. ASWU works to ensure that each student regardless of the universities financial difficulties has access to clubs, events and services that make a difference in their time at Willamette.
And therefore, when the email notifying students Bishop had been cut, we stepped in. Tirelessly sitting in meetings with administrators, reading hundreds of pages in reports and statistics on Bishop, mobilizing and creating petitions to regain the services our constituents desperately needed. We understood the severity of this issue and who it would hurt most from the moment we heard the news.
The head of the Task Force for Bishop was me, a bisexual woman of color and activist. So when I say my first priority was underrepresented, low-income and LGBTQ students I meant it because I work with these students day in and day out. But, since I am also one of them, none of these identities slipped my mind or was left out every time I spoke on the topic or handled the issue in any capacity.
So, to make a claim that ASWU is somehow not acting in the best interest of the student body’s underrepresented students is false. ASWU and the task force insured every meeting on Bishop was highly publicized. Not to include that all out meeting minutes are posted each week on our website and a student outreach form is at the bottom of the page for student concerns. And when we started the petitions to save bishop we not only emailed the petition to the entire student body, but we tabled for three days in Goudy to get it as many students from all backgrounds to voice their concerns. Even during our meeting with Dean Whipple and Don Thomas they stressed the fact that students tuition discount rates and FAFSA funding would be applied to this fee increase, due to the concerns raised by ASWU and students at large.
The point I am trying to make is that ASWU, no matter your opinion on us, has done something. That is a fact, not hearsay. This may be an opinion piece on the things that ASWU has done for the student body but I will stress that these are not strictly my opinions, they are also facts. And though I may have been present at most of these meetings, discussions and events I checked my facts and then checked them again. Because what makes the Trump Administration nothing like ASWU is the fact that ASWU is diverse and does not function off of hearsay; we check and check again.