By Ivanhoe/The AS Review
The AS board of directors, an elected body of seven students who represent the AS as Western’s student government, have made a list of goals that they hope to achieve this year.
Perhaps the most ambitious of these is their plan to take a critical look at the AS as an institution within the university structure and create a document that clearly defines the AS organization, AS President Matt Jarrell said.
“Right now there’s no charter between the AS and the university,” Jarrell said. A written charter “would clarify the roles of what the university would expect of us and what we would expect of the university.”
The role of the AS is defined by its bylaws and various other supporting documents, but these only define the internal role of the AS, not the role of the AS within the university framework. This has led to conflict in the past, including a lawsuit filed by the AS against the university in the 1970s seeking to clarify the relationship between the AS Bookstore and the university.
Jarrell was quick to point out that the AS currently has a good relationship with the university administration and that he hopes discussing the AS’s role in the university in the spirit of shared governance and cooperation will cement a good relationship for years to come.
“The AS is really partnering a lot with the administration,” AS board of directors Adviser Kevin Majkut said.
According to Jarrell and Majkut, the role of the AS is mainly defined internally, with its greater role in the university mainly defined by past practices, in addition to a few policies found scattered throughout various university documents here and there.
“We work with [the university] administration so closely, we want this part to be official because we care about our relationship with the administration,” Jarrell said. “It’s important to have a document that each party can agree to in case there were any altercations. … It makes everything that’s gray black and white.”
The AS board of directors has created a charter subcommittee to move forward on creating the document.
“The procedure is really just starting,” Majkut said, noting that they haven’t yet decided how broad or narrow the document will be, what format it will take, what it will be called or whether it will make many changes to the current relationship between the AS and the university.
The AS board of directors will also be working toward the goal of improving student participation on the committees that advise the university and the AS in their operations.
“We have so many committees,” Jarrell said. “We want students to be able to identify with committees and feel like they’re a part of them so they’re active student leaders and not just members on a committee.”
Another goal, he said, is improving the way money collected through student fees is allocated.
“Some of the [student] fees don’t have committees,” he said. “It’s our goal for all of the fees to look like the Technology Fee Committee,” which, he said, works well and provides a level of accountability for how student money is spent.
This year is also the inaugural year of a new assessment process for AS offices that last year’s student government established, so the AS board of directors will be closely observing how well that process works, Jarrell said.
Each year, under the new process, one-third of the AS offices will go over their mission statements and their learning outcomes to identify their strengths and weaknesses to ensure that the student body is best served by each of them.
“[This year’s goals] are something for us to be accountable for, something that we hope to get through,” he said.
On his personal goals for the year, Jarrell said, “Our biggest thing is just communication and outreach to students … getting information about students’ values.”
He pointed to his Talk Times with the AS President as part of his fulfillment of that goal.
“I wish that students knew that their goals are our goals and we’re here working for them,” he said. “[The AS board of directors is] only seven individuals and we’re representing 13,000 students. We’d love to hear their ideas.”
“We didn’t set goals [last year]” said Jarrell, who also served on last year’s AS board of directors as the vice president for activities.
“We have a year to put our handprint on the university and better the university for this year’s students and for students for years to come,” he said.