On Sunday, April 24, the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) unanimously passed four resolutions: Resolution 19.37 Cocurricular Leadership Stipend Program, Resolution 20.37 Voter Accessibility Act (VAA), Resolution 21.37 Resolution for Proactive Transparency, and Resolution 22.37 Resolution Supporting the Creation of a Resource Center.
“On Sunday, the WSA had an especially productive and engaging meeting,” wrote WSA President Kate Cullen ’16 in an email to The Argus. “We passed numerous resolutions to launch a pilot co-curricular stipend program for five student groups (contact us to apply for your group!), promote institutional transparency, promote voter accessibility in 2016 primary and general US elections, and furthermore, support the creation of a Resource Center.”
Resolution 19.37, with principal co-sponsors Alex Garcia ’17 and Aidan Martinez ’17, creates a pilot stipend program open to all student group leaders on financial aid.
Martinez explained where the idea for this resolution came from.
“We started paying senators on the assembly for their time who were on financial aid…and in turn, they would serve on the assembly and do their duties,” he said. “We’ve seen our numbers increase from like three people on financial aid [on the WSA] to now 18 out of 35 who are on financial aid.”
The resolution is intended to test a stipend program for leaders of five student groups before it potentially expands to include more student groups. Martinez said the pilot program will also feed into and be influenced by a resolution that passed last semester, Resolution 3.37 Stipends, Academic Credit, and Digitalization for on Campus Publications, which, among other things, created a working group to research the factors that would influence stipend programs for financial aid students.
The pilot program will put $5,000 of the WSA Projects Budget, left over from the current semester, to fund this program for two semesters, beginning in Fall 2016. As of now, the five student groups will be selected based on an interview with the Student Budget Committee (SBC), Student Life Committee (SLC), and Communications Committee chairs, along with the four student senators. Following the interview, they will require approval from the President and Vice President of the WSA.
Resolution 20.37, co-sponsored by Josh Nodiff ’19 and Noah Kahan ’19, ensures that first-years can register to vote upon arrival at the University as part of the initial registration procedures during Freshmen Orientation Week.
For current students who have matriculated prior to Fall 2016, links to and PDFs of voter registration and absentee ballots will be provided.
The WSA will be responsible for advertising on screens throughout the school and will send out seasonal emails pertaining to relevant events and information sessions, deadlines, and dates of each election per state, as part of the responsibility of the Communications Committee and ITS. Transportation to Middletown polls will be provided during local elections.
According to the resolution, the WSA hopes to organize with different political groups on campus to make aspects of the resolution available in time for the 2016 general presidential election.
Resolution 21.37, principally sponsored by Jacob Maiman-Stadtmauer ’19, calls to amend bylaws Article IX section 9.05 to instead ensure that all students are aware of what a resolution does and how it impacts the student body. With this resolution, now prior to introducing a resolution, there will be a press release describing what the resolution does and how it impacts the student body. The release will be sent to the chair of the Communications Committee, who will then determine whether or not the press release is comprehensive enough, and then to the Chief of Staff to disseminate to the student body along with meeting agendas.
In addition, committee bylaws for all committees will be amended to require writing a press release concerning any “action of significance” before engaging in comprehensive discussion. This is intended to help committees adjust based on or respond to student feedback regarding their actions.
Press releases will now be sent to all major publications on campus for release and will be posted on all platforms available to the WSA.
Resolution 22.37, co-sponsored by Kate Cullen ’16, Tedra James ’18, and Janet Shin ’18, called to override bylaws and vote on the resolution the evening it was introduced, prior to the Equity Task Force making final recommendations which are expected by May 1. The resolution affirms its support for the creation of a physical Resource Center, as put forward by the Is This Why Campaign and the Office of Equity & Inclusion Student Advisory Board. According to the resolution, the center will include Gender, SOC, Queer, and First-Generation Resource sub-centers; the creation of a full-time Equity Advocate position, who will co-chair the Center with an existing faculty member; paid student positions, including social justice facilitators and social justice interns and a Resource Center archivist; institutional support to ensure the longevity of the Center; and a physical space that is repurposed or created specifically for this Center.
“I think the quality and breadth of these projects reflects the innovative policy changes and high-caliber work that WSA members, and non-WSA collaborators involved in these projects, have brought forward through the year,” Cullen wrote.