Trigger warning: Mentions of violence against Indigenous people.
After last week’s Veterans Day hiatus, the ASUW Board of Directors (BOD) met Nov. 18 to address a bundle of new board bills covering topics from campus partnerships to renaming UW institutions, judicial committee recommendations, and potential pay increases for the Student Technology Fee (STF) committee.
The two major progresses are in the approval of a bill urging UW to recognize May as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Month, and in the approval of a bill suggesting the Womxn’s Action Commission (WAC) change its name to the Gender Equity Commission.
University recognition of missing and murdered Indigenous people
Brought forward by the American Indian Student Commission and sponsored by ASUW Senate Vice Speaker Sarah May, Board Bill 5.05 cited disproportionate rates of violence that Indigenous people experience as motivation for the proposal. Although this issue exists beyond Washington, “this state has the second highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) cases in the country,” May noted. The bill also stated that Seattle is the city with the highest number of MMWIG in the United States.
Recognition of May as MMIP Month will officially start in May 2022. The bill stipulated that UW “recognizes the inadequate responses of the federal and state criminal justice systems that fail Native women, girls, two-spirited, LGBTQ+ and non-binary people.” The bill received unanimous support in both the ASUW Senate and the BOD.
“A MMIWG day recognition [on May 5] will honor the lives of our Native relatives and continue to shed light on the countless tragedies involving our Native relatives,” May said.
Gender Equity Commission
Board Bill 6.01, which changes the name of the WAC to the Gender Equity Commission, was approved. The measure was sponsored by vice president Kaitlyn Laibe.
Founded by ASUW, the WAC values gender-based empowerment, educating others on the oppressions faced by womxn-identifying individuals, and advocates for these constituents through student government, according to the website. Per Laibe, the change would more accurately reflect the commission’s focus on the diversity of gender and its intersectional nature.
“The director and assistant director of WAC have been having conversations with their constituents, not only in office hours but in meetings, as well as last year when I was the director,” Laibe said. “We held multiple open forums, and it was reflected that its name change would be the best recognition.”
The bill was approved by the BOD with one abstention from director of campus partnerships Michael Saunders.
Potential partnership with Rent College Pads tabled
Co-sponsored by Saunders and director of community relations Geeta Iyer, Board Bill 4.0 would establish a partnership with Rent College Pads to address the needs of the 75% of UW students who live off campus, Iyer said. This potential partnership has been in the works since last year, and this bill was ultimately tabled due to the BOD and other stakeholders wanting to review the contract themselves before approval of the partnership.
In the bill, the sponsors note UW’s inability to provide housing for the majority of its students, and states, “the University of Washington does not have an effective office or resource for off-campus housing.”
The partnership with Rent College Pads would give students a free resource to find available housing situations, roommates, and realtor and building accessibility ratings. The BOD sponsors will start a task force or “send a campus-wide survey to engage student opinions on what features students would like to see,” Iyer said.
“There’s nothing we do that students would ever have to pay for,” Rent College Pads vice president of partnerships Chris Hoff said. “We have a very simple business model. It’s free for the university, free for the students, and the landlords just pay to list their properties on the website.”
Rent College Pads has offered a $20,000 contribution to the Husky Pride Fund, which is a need-based scholarship program that helps students with anything ranging from housing insecurity to loss of wages.
ASUW intends to maintain transparency about the donation in their social media promotions of the prospective partnership.
“There’s obviously going to be like a social media post we can do just so students know this resource exists, and then part of that can be like a statement of transparency [about the Husky Pride Fund donation],” Iyer said.
Rent College Pads COO Mitch Ehly was also present via Zoom. Even if the bill was passed, other steps would still need to be taken in order for the partnership to take effect.
“Be aware if you all pass this, then a process begins to review this through the university contract approval process,” Ehly said. “If that gets a green light from our attorneys, then I would sign on your behalf.”
Director of internal policy Nicole Hishmeh and secretary of recommendations Brent Seto submitted their judicial recommendation on behalf of the entire judicial committee.
The judicial committee is a “neutral group tasked with holding ASUW accountable to the goals set by the State, University, and Association governing documents,” according to the department of political science website.
Recommended that the BOD implement a standing committee for undergraduate transfer student advocacy, with the director of community relations and director of university affairs, among others, serving as chairs.
Board Bill 5.03 to establish this committee was approved following this recommendation.
Board Bill 6.0: An Act to Change the Name of the Student Health Consortium to the Office of Student Health was tabled.
There was concern voiced by president Mustapha Samateh that the rename would be misleading as the office “doesn’t provide health services for students and mostly advocates.”
Lucas Wang from the STF committee addressed the BOD to outline STF’s plans and schedules for the year. STF receives its funding from this proposal process that occurs at the beginning of each quarter.
Contention arose surrounding the committee’s compensation, and the BOD was hesitant to approve the pay increase to $20-$22, above Washington state minimum wage, when Wang did not present a standardization of the exact hours the committee was to work.
The committee, appointed by ASUW and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, is responsible for “meeting the technological needs of students” by working with campus departments and “advocating for student-led “impactful technology projects,” according to STF’s website.
Outcome: tabled until Dec. 2.
The BOD meets Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. PST in HUB 303 and on Zoom. The meeting schedule and links to join the Zoom webinar can be found on the ASUW website.
Reach reporter Lacey Robertson at email@example.com. Twitter: @laceynicolerob
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