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ASUW recommits campus safety bill after extensive debate and discussion

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The ASUW Board of Directors (BOD) recommitted student senate bill R-25-31, a resolution (passed by the senate April 30) in support of “stronger campus safety measures,” over concerns on the breadth of the bill and the lack of concrete information in it during their May 2 meeting.

Campus safety, which has been reported on continuously throughout this school year, has prompted the senate — with the hope of getting final approval from the BOD — to implement a comprehensive campus safety reform bill. But, the questions the BOD tried to answer at their most recent meeting was whether the bill was too comprehensive and whether it would properly serve students.

R-25-31, which has already been thoroughly discussed in senate, outlines an expansive strategy consisting of three parts that would serve to address a wide amount of student concerns in one bill: weather and other campus closures, incident reporting on campus, and wider U-District incident alerts. The BOD raised concerns about these components, suspecting that the bill tried to cover more ground than was necessary, which could reduce the potency of the bill.

As a testament to its importance, senators Ewan Cameron and Bryn Sinclair came to speak in front of the BOD at public forum and clarify their positions. Sinclair and Cameron both opposed the bill’s methods, but not the overall intent. Throughout the forum, Cameron and Dan Tran, the bill’s sponsor, answered the BOD’s questions.

Sinclair addressed their concerns that the bill — while well intentioned — was disrespectful because of the way it referenced a specific student death in the legislation, characterized as a "suicide," while UW Housing and Food Services only qualified the incident as a "death under tragic circumstances." Cameron expressed similar issues with the bill’s delivery but did not elaborate further.

One of the main concerns that the BOD shared was their opinion that the bill tried to tackle too much. They argued that the extensive list of issues that the bill tries to cover is very expansive and detailed, though lacking in enough concrete evidence to support the claims the bill puts forth.

The majority of the discussion was focused on incident reporting on campus, namely the student death at Terry Hall earlier in the year. Espen Scheuer, ASUW vice president, criticized the bill strongly for its aggressive stance and lack of sources to back it up, as well as its assertion that the university needs to be more detailed in its relaying of information to the student body.

Scheuer felt that in the interest of protecting family privacy in events related to students, there was little more the university could do to provide more information in these specific incidents.

On top of that, the bill asserts that more university-wide responses to incidents on campus would greatly reduce anxiety among the student body and improve students’ mental health. However, the clause stopped short of providing any relevant citations which prompted more harsh criticism from the BOD.

The overall ambiguity and vagueness of the bill was also a topic of debate. Many BOD members echoed how the bill asks for unreasonable outcomes from the UW administration without providing any sort of conclusive evidence to show how their proposed plan would make a difference.

Trevor Hunt, the Residential Community Student Association director of external affairs, cited research showing how notifications about student incidents at large schools affected the mental health of students more than if less information was provided.

By the end of the forum, the BOD arrived at the consensus that deeper research was needed in order for the bill to be properly implemented and resolved to recommit it to the senate for further revisions.

ASUW President Ritika Jain announced at the end of the discussion that she would set aside time for the BOD to meet with both BOD members and student senators interested to further revise and fix the bill’s problems. Additionally, the BOD and senate would meet with stakeholders to revise the bill.

The BOD meets Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. in HUB 303.

Reach ASUW reporter Thelonious Goerz at Twitter: @TheloniousGoerz

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