Matt Crowley/The AS Review

Last school year, in an effort to streamline its programs and improve efficiency, particularly during a time of economic uncertainty, the Associated Students created the Tactical Assessment Program, a “structured, transparent and consistent” assessment process that evaluates AS programs every four years.

The TAP is run by the Structure and Program Advisory Committee, which analyzes the structure of the AS to make sure it is running to the best of its ability. When the TAP was created by the former AS Vice President for Business and Operations Virgilio Cintron, the SPAC was naturally chosen to oversee it.

Along with the chair and vice-chair, held by the VP for business and operations and the VP for diversity, respectively, the SPAC consists of a number of students inside and outside of the AS. Their job is to assess whatever AS programs and offices are up for consideration that year, not only for things like efficiency and overall usage, but diversity as well.

“This year we added diversity and inclusion to the assessment criteria, and when we looked at the data we found that some offices weren’t reaching out to a diverse audience,” said current VP for Business and Operations Benjamin Brockman. “A lot of the offices we went up and talked to didn’t have adequate data on their demographics, and the TAP does need demographic information.”

Brockman is considering proposing a policy that would require offices to collect data on demographics and usage.
SPAC Vice-Chair and VP for Diversity Bernard Ikegwuona said the philosophy behind the SPAC and TAP is in line with Western and its principles.

“One of the things our college boasts is that we are forward-thinking, that we are moving in the future, and the future obviously really encapsulates people from different identities working collaboratively,” said Ikegwuona.

By the end of this year, the SPAC will have reviewed seven programs, including the Ethnic Student Center and the Social Issues Resource Center. Last year, the committee’s findings resulted in the dissolution of the Drug Information Center. Similarly, the AS Productions Civil Controversy series was cancelled this year after, in a survey of Western students, the SPAC found that it had the least amount of name-recognition in the AS. The dissolution of the program saved $21,000. The losses, though unfortunate, allowed for the creation of the Disability Outreach Center and has freed up funding for other programs throughout the AS.

This year, the SPAC has also been instrumental in helping rename the AS Queer Resource Center, creating the Outdoor Center’s Western Outdoor Orientation Trip and also creating an academic adviser position in the ESC.

“An entity that strives to assess itself to make sure that it’s providing the best quality, the best services, is an ideal organization,” said Ikegwuona. “Anybody that is not too verbose or too proud to go into its internal and intrinsic functions and say, ‘We want to provide the best,’ especially when you’re dealing with students, especially in a budget situation, a crisis where quality is being threatened.”

Although TAP has shown to be effective, it is not without flaws.

“I think the biggest con of the program right now, and it’s not one that is going to persist, is the fact that it’s still a new program,” said Ikegwuona. “There were some conflicts over the process, and what need[ed] to go into the process, but the conflicts are those that can be easily resolved.”

The program has provided academic opportunities for students as well. A couple of students have managed to acquire school credit working for the program as interns, and the structure of the committee allows students outside of the AS to get their foot in the door and become involved. Ultimately, however, the program is simply trying to make the AS as useful and efficient as possible.

“The Associated Students of Western Washington University is the largest student organization in a public university in the state. Students are funding $2.4 million in student fees to the AS every year,” said Brockman. “Without a system of checks and balances to go look at our programs and make sure they’re actually catering to student needs, naturally we’re going to have a lot of waste, and it is our duty as student representatives and stewards of student resources to make sure students are getting the best value for their money.”

For more information, visit www.asvu.wwu.edu/tap. Students interested in volunteering for the SPAC and TAP can email Benjamin Brockman at ASVP.BusOps@wwu.edu.