ASB president reflects on year’s progress, challenges

ML Logo over bricks with moss

This was originally published on KPH air waves as the president’s state of the college. For the full version, check out our website or The Mossy Pod.

My name is Madeleine MacWilliamson. I am a rising senior political science major and data science minor. This past year, I served as ASB Student Body President here on the hill.  

I did not want to run for student body president. Despite my pleas, nobody else was willing to bear the burden. I had become the most senior member on the ASB team as a rising junior. I was the one who had stayed on the road the longest and now the one who must pave the path forward. The weight of this title was worrying. Actually, being student body president scared me. 

I was anxious about succeeding such powerhouse presidents; I felt their legacy shadow me. Mikah Bertel-Mann shepherded this institution through the COVID-19 pandemic, responding to issues around the transition onto Zoom, dealing with wildfires, the student experience with masks and social distancing, financial uncertainty for ASB and the institution and issues of equity during hardship. Mikah worked to stabilize numerous shaky situations in an unprecedented time of instability and he did a damn good job.

Sarah Lind-MacMillan led ASB through a significant transformation, addressing the return to in-person learning, changing the name “ASLC” in protest of the colonial history, challenging the administration on issues of racial equity, changing the PioExpress route toward Southeast Portland and providing student perspectives on the student center remodel. She built upon Mikah’s goals and continued to guide the college into a sense of normalcy after losing campus cultural traditions to the pandemic Zoom era. Both of these stewards now serve as Rangel Fellows, future foreign service officers and true diplomats. I saw the big shoes awaiting me and I looked down at my feet that I still see as too small, yet somehow I slipped the presidential shoes on to walk forward.

I shuffled into this role at first by serving on the Presidential Transition Committee for Robin Holmes-Sullivan. I learned the names, the departments, the offices and of course — the administrative coordinators. Over the summer, I began coordinating the Cabinet and strategic planning for the academic year. We learned our names, our initiatives and our goals for our future. To say we were wide-eyed and optimistic would be an understatement.

But even optimism could not stave away problems as a growing waitlist accumulated for on-campus housing. I met with Campus Living Director Ben Meoz to provide feedback on creating a housing guide similar to Reed College. Together, Cabinet brainstormed solutions; we worked as a team for the first time. Cabinet started an emergency Housing Relief Reimbursement for students in financial need who were on the Campus Living waitlist. This application was circulated by Campus Living in their Discord server for students waitlisted for on-campus housing. We approved $1,400 for off-campus security deposits and rental applications. This all happened before we returned to our campus for the fall semester.   

When we did return for the fall semester, the school year started with tragedy. To respect those grieving and the impacted loved ones, I do not plan to delve into this private moment. I have no words, other than to offer a moment of silence for our peer, a first-year whom we lost on our first day. 

At this moment, our community cared for one another; we held space. We continued this compassion toward each other, in turn shaping our community for the better. This academic year, I am proud of the state of our college.   

In the fall semester, I spoke at New Student Orientation in the Griswold Stadium, appointed students to various institutional LC committees and initiated conversations about a Lyft Pilot Program. I established regular biweekly meetings with Evette Castillo Clark and began bonding with our new vice president of student life as she acclimated to campus culture. I taught her ASB history, alongside the history of student protest regarding the name change. As student body president, I was privileged to be part of Robin’s inauguration ceremony. Moreover, I attended the Board of Trustees in an eventful week in October. I learned more about the inner workings of the institution and its finances. My meetings with many administrators spanned many more topics… 

The greater body of ASB did significant work as well, enough that I cannot recount every committee’s accomplishments — but I will list a few for listeners. ASB began a carpool bulletin board to connect commuter students with rides. Cabinet met with the Executive Council and held Town Halls and Forums on various topics such as the PioExpress with Parking & Transportation and Structures with Facilities. ASB attended the Portland Student Government Conference hosted by the University of Portland, which inspired a subsequent legislative agenda. ASB formalized the Health & Wellness Committee alongside an ISLC Cabinet Representative. The Student Policy Advisory Committee started a digital conduct policy guide to make available for students interested in their rights. We addressed the ASB Recall initiative process and held conversations about how to call in, rather than calling our peers out. CAB hosted Robin’s inauguration party to celebrate the momentous occasion. Winter Wishes entered its third year; students submitted thoughtful wishes to their peers. Campus was cheerful. 

So spring started with pep in our step! ASB continued its work within committees. EIJC offered mutual aid grants and SAAB processed academic applicants. CAB began Troom Thursday, with weekly events taking place in the Trail Room on Thursday. Even more dances were hosted, as CAB hosted Spring Ball. ASB held its first spirit week leading up to the enchanted forest themed dance. We were able to provide 45 students with free professional portraits on Fancy Friday. ASB worked alongside Parking & Transportation, and a thesising ENVS senior to survey the student body about PioExpress utilization. 

Senate agreed to pursue three community outreach projects: a mural in Templeton/Fowler, an I <3 the Pio publicity and resources campaign and a nature photography competition. ASB also met with the Teaching Evaluation Committee to provide feedback on the administration of course evaluation. ASB held our elections for next academic year. This was the first cycle to include Senate elections in the spring, which led to a competitive and contested election. Finally, the Finance Committee held Allocations Weekend to disperse the Student Fee among student organizations earlier than years prior, to much success and positive feedback about the process. ASB put together events such as,the Festival of Scholars and Artists and Spring Fever held by CAB… 

I introduced a legislative agenda to restructure the ASB financial system and to develop standards, precedents and guidelines for honoraria. Senate approved legislation to put $44 of the $360 student fee total toward Campus Activities Board funding, similar to other regional student government systems. Moreover, ASB began developing honoraria guidelines for student organizations to implement funded volunteer opportunities for their leadership. We hope to make these available once Student Engagement reviews and adds an embezzlement clause, parallel to current college policy…

Throughout my term, I worked tirelessly to advocate for the needs and concerns of our student body, striving to build a stronger and more inclusive community on our campus. I did not always agree with the institution’s choices — and I made sure they knew when I did disagree — but I found that we always sought to reach similar conclusions: to better the student body, to better the student opportunities, and to better the student experience.

I am grateful for the trust of my fellow students to serve you well and I hope that my contributions have made a positive impact on the college community. I want to commend ASB for taking strong stances in leadership, as this passion was reflected throughout the year with the initiatives of committee chairs, Cabinet Officers and Senators. It is heartening to have found so much love and community here on our college upon the hill. 

I am endlessly gracious for the opportunity to wear such big shoes as the ASB Student Body President. But! I am relieved to take these worn loafers off and let Alex Chapelle take ASB above and beyond. I know I walked in these shoes, but I do not doubt that Alex will run far faster (and far better than I can). So I look forward to seeing where he will take ASB next year. I know I will try my best to follow him as vice president.

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