Two new cabinet positions, three Western Student Association members on homecoming court, four sponsored events and one motto: “onward, upward, outward.”
Sean Nicholl, president of the WSA, highlighted these achievements of the fall semester,and his new life motto, during his State of the Association Address at last night’s WSA meeting. The room held a multitude of students and potential as the Senate approved seven new college Senators and passed a resolution that would give the WSA president speaking rights at Board of Trustees meetings.
“I don’t care if I have three months or three days left in my term,” Nicholl said. “I will treat it as if it’s the first day I took office.”
Nicholl compared WSA to one of his favorite TV shows, “Supernatural.”
“Instead of killing vampires we are writing resolutions,” he said. “Instead of hunting demons we are hosting forums. Instead of saving the world, we are actively trying to make Western Michigan University the best campus in the world.”
Some days, he said he doesn’t know who has the harder job.
He asked students to leave a legacy at WMU by recognizing these achievements but also remembering that their work is not finished. No student should be satisfied with the just the work they’ve already done.
“WSA should never remain stagnant,” Nicholl said. “It has to keep changing and moving forward to survive. It’s our responsibility from April to April to enact change on campus.”
To lead the semester surge, Political Affairs Chair Joe Szuszwalak presented the Shared Governance Resolution 1213-13. The resolution would give the WSA president more speaking rights, and a possible voting right, at Board of Trustees meetings. The resolution passed last night with a vote of 40-0 with two people abstaining from voting.
The WMU Board of Trustees changes university policies like tuition, the yearly budget, the university’s mission, programs and admission, according to the Board of Trustee’s bylaws. A student speaker would help bridge the gap between the university and the students, Szuszwalak said. Wayne State University and Lake Superior State University already have an existing relationship with their board of trustees.
“Right now, the [American Association of University Professors] and the Faculty Senate both are allowed to have representatives addressing the Board without any rules,” he said. “They can address them on non-agenda items and agenda items and they have no time limits.”
Students can only address agenda items at certain times with time limits, he said. The resolution asks the board to give the same privileges the teacher’s union and faculty senate have to a student representative.
“I think that’s only fair,” he said. “The faculty is still getting two representatives to our one representative.”
People wishing to address the board can only address the board on one agenda item and have a speaking time limit of three minutes, according to the Board of Trustees website. Only 15 minutes, or five speakers, are alloted for each action agenda item. People wishing to speak must sign up beforehand to be put on the speaker’s list. The general public comment section of the formal session allows 30 minutes for public comments.
To secure a student voting right, WSA and WMU administration will require state involvement. The state includes the Student Association of Michigan, which represents the 15 student governments of the public universities in Michigan, the Michigan Legislature and the Governor Rick Snyder’s office. All appointments to the WMU Board of Trustees are made by the Governor and approved by the Senate.
Szuszwalak has not discussed the Shared Governance Resolution with the WMU Board of Trustees yet since they meet so infrequently throughout the year. He’s not sure how the board with react. Their next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27.
Junior Parnell Fleming, a political science major, said he’s wondering what effect the burden of the board will have on the WSA president and his other duties. This position may require him to learn meticulous details, like the budget, finances and operations of WMU.
“My concern comes at the end of the resolution with the president having a vote on the board,” Fleming said.
Here are a few announcements also made at the WSA meeting:
- WSA President Sean Nicholl is looking for a new Diversity Guidance Chair and a new Chief Justice. If interested, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Student Orientation Leader and First Year Experience instructor applications are due this Friday, Jan. 18 at 5 p.m.
- WSA still has iClickers available for rental to any student.
Western Student Association meetings are held in Room 157 on the main floor of the Bernhard Center every Wednesday at 4:15 p.m.