On Tuesday, ASUW president Tyler Wu delivered the first-ever State of the ASUW address in Gowen Hall.
Wu began by discussing the history of the ASUW and his involvement since his freshman year. He then spoke about the ASUW’s accomplishments during autumn quarter, divided into categories of access and affordability, community cohesion, and student safety.
When speaking about access and affordability, Wu said the ASUW has worked to increase student involvement in ASUW activities and to encourage transparency in its proceedings.
“I should be working toward what students want,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to make a State of the ASUW address.”
Wu then spoke about community cohesion, saying that the ASUW has seen improved communication between ASUW commissions, the Greek community, and student groups on campus. He also mentioned ASUW’s efforts to support the Race and Equity Initiative.
Wu spoke about a variety of ASUW efforts related to student safety, including its work to address concerns about sexual assault. He also said that a student advisory board would be created to work directly with UWPD.
Audience members voted in a poll to determine the three topics Wu would discuss for the rest of his speech. They decided on ASUW elections, Greek community accountability, and the use of tuition dollars.
Wu said he hopes to respond to the inaccessibility felt by many students toward the ASUW. He noted that voter turnout during ASUW elections has significantly decreased: 10,000 students voted during his freshman year, while only 2,500 voted last year.
“Hopefully the fact that we are structuring [meetings] in a way that isn’t catered to a specific type of person will, in turn, get more people to vote in elections,” he said.
Austin French, a sophomore and member of ASUW, agreed with Wu’s concerns about student involvement and voter turnout.
“2,500 people, that’s a very low percentage of the UW population voting for who is in charge,” French said. “I guess it all goes down to a feeling of community. But it’s a massive, multi-pronged issue.”
Wu then discussed accountability of the Greek community. He called last year’s Check Your Privilege party a “wake-up call” for the Greek community, and mentioned the subsequent installation of diversity chairs in many chapters. Wu, a member of the Greek community himself, acknowledged the exclusion felt by many non-Greek students.
“I’m looking at the Greek community involvement in campus and working towards fixing that divide between what happens in the Greek community and what actually happens on campus,” he said.
When speaking about the use of tuition dollars, Wu noted that tuition money has recently been used to pay for the construction of the Physics Astronomy Building and the current construction of the Life Sciences Building. He said many students are not aware that tuition money is sometimes used to pay for capital projects and hopes for an increase in transparency related to the delegation of that money.
Wu also discussed the future of the ASUW. He said he plans to hold “coffee with the president” events from 1-3 p.m. every Tuesday in Suzzallo Library so students can easily discuss their ideas and concerns with him. He also encouraged audience members to apply to ASUW jobs and volunteer opportunities, and to attend upcoming ASUW sponsored events like QSC Ball, Winter Powwow, and Black History Month.
Jion Yu, a freshman who became involved in the ASUW during autumn quarter, was impressed by Wu’s commitment to the student body.
“He was very spot-on about the topics that students care about,” Yu said. “I got the feeling that he is very involved and tries to be aware of what students think.”
Wu asked audience members to hold the ASUW accountable for its actions, to take advantage of the ASUW’s resources on campus, and to express their opinions about community concerns.
“If you don’t like whatever is happening in the association now, apply for a job, run in elections,” Wu said. “You are the future of the association.”
Reach reporter Katie Anastas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @KatieAnastas