The Transparency initiative is sponsored by Bill Campbell, Mark Adrian Winters and Cynthia Jurado. Campbell and Winters responded to our questions.
What led you to put this on the ballot?
Campbell: To start off with that, the initiative is about two things: Higher One and then how the university makes decisions overall. For me personally, I was involved in the campaign against Higher One. I was a part of the Facebook event, I was part of the task force public forum. I couldn’t make the task force myself because of the meeting times, but it was something I was really concerned about.
We need to be able to defend the students who don’t understand everything that’s going on. We want to continue to re-evaluate the Higher One contract. Realistically, we are placing the university’s priorities over student priorities, and that is not something we should be doing. It goes against the values of Western, it goes against the values of our community and the values of our students.
The second thing that the initiative does is call for the university to be transparent in everything that they do when it comes to large decisions. It also calls for university administration to involve students and to communicate with students. Three things are absolutely imperative when it comes to things like eliminating football, installing Higher One, making decisions on the logo, whether these decision were correct or not is really not the big issue. What the issue is is how these decisions were made.
Winters: We hope to set a precedent by moving this initiative through. We won’t see these new actions without consulting the student body and seeing student’s interest in check. So again setting a precedent for future actions to be more accountable.
Why should students support this?
Campbell: Probably something I don’t have to answer too much on. When we did our polls and also received our signatures, I don’t think we received a single “no” for this. It is something that is pretty highly recognized as an important issue here on campus.
Students should vote for this because we want to come together and make a stand as a university and as a community. To be able to say to the administration it is not acceptable to maintain the status quo without involving students not communicating with students the way we have these past few years. And that’s really why not only should students vote for it, but why I think students will vote for it.
Winters: I garnered a good 100 signatures and it was generally easier to get than for the print-quota initiative. Students generally were appalled at what had become with their relationship with Higher One. People are complaining about not being able to get their money and not sure about where the money is going in the first place. In fact, most people if they had any issue with it is, “Oh I don’t use it, because it didn’t seem like it fit me at all.” Unfortunately we feel, especially incoming freshmen and transfer students, need to be kept apprize of what this relationship truly entails. Those more often than not are the ones becoming upset and frustrated with the system.
If the initiative passes, will it need funding to implement? If so, how much and where will it come from?
Campbell: On the tail end, funding for this initiative isn’t required. The main aspect is really about in the future: how do we make decisions? How do we go about involving students? By making sure we involve students and communicating to students the major decisions that are going to impact on their educational careers at Western Washington University.
When it comes to evaluating the contract with Higher One, is there potential for there to be funding impacts? That is the case there could be funding impacts.
However, what we ask is what we prioritize first and foremost are student values and student priorities. Essentially we have passed the buck on costs for financial aid refunds on to students, and we did it in a way to astronomically raise the costs for a number of students. A lot of students will be paying fees, fines – all kinds of things because of this one process. And that is not acceptable in the minds of myself, as candidate of AS president, as well as frankly the majority of students.
Winters: There’s not really much more to say about it. This is predominantly a political action.
As of now, there shouldn’t be financial or economical requirements. Really we just people to view it, to pay attention, to see it and come forward with their own problems with it and their own issues so that we can rally through them and get in front of the university and say we don’t want this to happen again and make sure that from now on, they can set the precedent for any future actions we take.