ASLC deliberates about student union representation

Photo by Morgan Fries

By Mackenzie Herring

In their meeting on Oct. 5, the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) discussed the extent to which student groups should be able to influence the organization.

ASLC currently has six representatives from organizations on campus: the Black Student Union, the Feminist Student Union, the Queer Student Union, International Students of LC, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and Gente Latina Unida.

The organization entitled “Empower,” also known as the Disabled Student’s Union (DSU), requested a representative seat on the ASLC board. DSU members Taylor Walters ’18, Peter Saathoff-Harshfield ’18 and Hera Dewan ’19 gave a presentation on why the DSU is important, what their goals are for the year and why they wish to have representation in the ASLC.

“Something we want to do is be a little bit of a middle ground for students,” Dewan said.

After the presentation was over and the DSU representatives left the room, and the senators briefly deliberated.

The typical procedure to introduce new representatives typically takes up to a year, as future representatives are required to sit as guests for a year before earning a seat on the board. Despite this, there have been organizations who have bypassed the year-long waiting period. In 2015, due to receiving immediate senatorial support, the Black Student Union was given representation once contacting ASLC. While the senators did not vote on the DSU’s request, the topic of group representation came up again later in the meeting.

Senator Hannah Posey-Scholl ’20 brought up the idea of contacting the Asian Student Union (ASU) to discuss a potential seat on the board.

“I know that the ASU is also reforming on campus and I was wondering if we could do a straw poll (an unofficial vote) to see if people are interested in contacting them so they are aware that this is something they can come and present,” Posey-Scholl said.

Prior to discussion, there seemed to be consensus among the senators and cabinet members that reaching out to the ASU would be beneficial to the ASLC. However, when the vote was conducted, ASLC president Marissa Valdez ’18 and Community Service and Relations Coordinator Violet Betters ’20 voted divergently from the group.

Valdez explained that since the majority of clubs and organizations on campus do not have representation in ASLC, reaching out to the ASU would cause a few issues. Primarily, if ASLC were to personally reach out to one club, it would be unfair to the rest of the clubs and organizations that were not contacted. However, if ASLC were to contact various clubs and organizations, then they would run the risk of limiting senatorial power.

“It starts to get tricky,” Better said.,” Betters said. ““If we start reaching out to people, because then why aren’t we reaching out to other ((clubs)) … There’s a lot of unions on campus who don’t have representation in the senate …  And if we give everyone representation it’s going to outweigh the senators.”.

Hyperpluralism is a prevailing issue for many representative governing bodies. Valdez also pointed out that if there were many representatives from groups, it would limit the power of the democracy in ASLC.

“It makes us kind of question how much of a democracy we are,” Valdez said.

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