Content warning: This article discusses policy and events surrounding police violence.
The Associated Students of Lewis & Clark (ASLC) commenced the semester with their first Senate meeting on Jan. 26.
Vice President Jeremiah Koshy ’21 began the meeting by announcing the resignation of Cas Mulford ’23, the former student resources committee coordinator, who departed for “personal self-care reasons.” Mulford spent 10-15 hours a week fulfilling his former role on top of his pre-existing on-campus engagements with the speech and debate team, the Student Alumni Association and his job as a resident advisor for Hartzfeld Hall.
“I love the work — I felt like I was doing important helpful work,” Mulford said. “I know the students appreciated what we were doing, but I just couldn’t feasibly do it all.”
As of Jan. 29, no applications were submitted, leading ASLC to broaden its potential pool of applicants. ASLC opened the position to any student on campus, removing the rule that limited the position to students already serving on the Student Resources Committee.
Koshy also provided updates on the Strategic Direction Task Force, citing no tangible changes as of now. According to Koshy, the task force continues to evolve.
“We are still defining what the goals of the strategic task force should be,” Koshy said.
The task force, instated by ASLC, serves to improve ASLC in a manner that better represents the student body. While no formal proposals have been made, one idea by the task force involves changing election cycles to allow first-year students easier transitions and time to adjust before running for Senate. Koshy also floated the possibility of consolidating ASLC cabinet positions, revising the ASLC constitution and a required joint ticket election for incoming presidents and vice presidents to help alleviate potential tensions between the two offices.
Sen. Madeline MacWilliamson ’24 proposed a resolution, SR001, which offers students a daily email update on the worsening pandemic. MacWilliamson plans to include campus-specific COVID-19 statistics and information, as well as national and international data about the state of the pandemic. Sen. Olivia Weiss ’22, the co-chair of the COVID-19 Task Force, voiced support for the proposition, but senators ultimately decided to table the legislation.
The COVID-19 Task Force began in March 2020, offering students information on how to avoid the spread of the virus, as well as support through initiatives like the ASLC resource pantry. Weiss explained how the task force continues to serve students, emphasizing the importance of their communication with administrators like Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students Robin Holmes-Sullivan.
Weiss also touched on her obligation as a senator to represent the voices of her constituents, specifically concerning recent calls for President Wim Wiewel’s resignation following his response to protests in the form of graffiti over his role in the killing of Jason Washington. Wiewel’s Jan. 26 email statement condemned the act as “vandalism,” stating that video footage of the event had been sent to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB).
“Regardless of whether or not Wim believes that he held responsibility and holds fault, harm was caused,” Weiss said. “As the president of a university, he needs to address that harm regardless of whether or not he thinks it was justified and I have not seen evidence yet that he has acknowledged it.”
One of the first responses following the motion to discuss the incident came from Anna Graff ’22, the ASLC student representative for the Asian Student Union. Graff highlighted the disappointment students expressed about the school contacting the PPB.
“I think that a lot of people are feeling like he doesn’t actually feel remorse because he’s continuing to support a system that kills innocent Black people,” Graff said.
Koshy noted that Wiewel is not the only Lewis & Clark administrator who played a role in arming Portland State University (PSU) police. David Reese, LC’s vice president, chief of staff, general counsel and board secretary, served in a similar role as an integral member of Wiewel’s PSU leadership team. Like Wiewel, Reese advised that PSU create an armed police force in 2014.
“I would think that if we want to come down on this, any effort to address this issue needs to be … holistic in its nature and address everyone who was involved,” Koshy said. “I would recommend looking into Dave Reese because, in a sense, he is as much responsible as Wim.”
In an interview, Iyanah Fuller ’22, the ASLC representative for the Black Student Union (BSU), elaborated on how BSU plans to address Wiewel’s remarks and the actions that led to the death of Jason Washington.
“What we’re doing now with other student leaders — with the Prison Abolition Club and other affinity group leaders — is trying to figure out how we move forward,” Fuller said. “What does accountability mean, what does conflict resolution mean in our community? And then just trying to figure out tangible steps.”
Fuller said she personally would not consider a resignation from Wiewel as a step in the right direction, but that her stance does not necessarily represent the sentiments of all BSU members. She called for him to address the issue with empathy and compassion in order to heal his damaged relationship with the student body.
Sen. Alaryx Tenzer ’23 emphasized how their identity as a white student on campus shapes their actions going forward as both a senator and student.
“In the end, I’m going to follow whatever the Black Student Union decides officially to do,” Tenzer said.
During the meeting, senators and representatives did not take formal action to address Wiewel’s response to the graffiti. However, ASLC will continue discussing the matter. Wiewel is scheduled to appear at the Feb. 16 Senate meeting, open to all members of the LC community.