The agenda of the Feb. 9 ASEWU Council meeting included guest speaker Erin Priest, reports from the Superior Courts; the officers, and departmental presentations from Academic Affairs and Student Health and Safety. In addition, the 2006-2007 ASEWU fiscal budget went through the first reading.
The meeting began with participation from the gallery. Stacey Roestel, student member of the Board of Trustees thanked the Associated Students for the hard work they have been doing. “The proactive stuff that has been going on campus-is good for the community and it is good for our campus. I definitely want you to continue it-I want you to continue being a strong AS, creating a strong AS community and I just wanted to say I am backing you up however you vote. Whatever you do, I am in favor of and I would like to see more students be in favor too.”
Keven Shipman was next to participate from the gallery. He said he had a statement about the recent events surrounding The Easterner; “Some weeks ago we were discussing the diversity project that AS could not fund for legal reasons. And the AS knew all the ins and outs of that law. I found it ironic that in the case of banning The Easterner, preventing something that is so basic to how ASEWU functions, in an issue of free speech and open discussion, such as the open public meeting law…[AS] opted against this central law that directly impacts how you function.”
Alicia Kinne, president of ASEWU, responded by saying she would like to apologize for asking The Easterner to leave. “It was not just The Easterner that we were asking to leave, they just happened to be the only people at our agenda prep meeting. Our reasoning behind it was that at our previous agenda prep meeting we had a number of other guests present and were not able to conduct the business that we usually conduct… Not being aware of the open meetings act, we had asked The Easterner to leave. Had we known that that law existed, had someone spoken up and said that we needed to be aware of that, we would not have asked The Easterner to leave or anyone else that was present. I can promise you that it will not happen again. We are working with the attorney general’s office…and they will be giving us some information on the open meetings act, as well as providing a session for council to attend that is not mandatory. We are doing this on our own behalf, so that we are aware of this law and we will never see this sort of thing occur again in the in the AS offices.”
Shipman said he appreciated Kinne’s response but hoped that when AS went through the session provided by the attorney generals office, they would not fall back on making “excuses like it was a misunderstanding or [they] just didn’t know because actually, at this point [he didn’t] think those are good excuses.”
In response to Shipman’s concern about AS “advocating for closed meetings,” Kinne said AS respected his opinion, yet they were “not advocating for closed meetings.”
Following the gallery participation, Erin Priest, representing the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and chair of the Resident Recreation Center Committee gave a presentation about their opinion on the rec center issue and also to offer their support and help.
Some of the points she made were that they believed there was a need for a new vote or survey, that things were not being presented very clearly and they were constantly changing.
Another point she made was that if there was going to be an ice rink, it should be open to the public and bring in revenue. “We want to work with you guys and cooperate and try to make sure the residents understand what is going on.”
Fleming said that, “From day one the controversy that surrounds the rec center stems from miscommunication and misunderstanding and we need to alleviate this.”
In response to one of Priest’s concerns, Fleming said that the ice rink, if that is what we go with, will be open to the community and there will be revenue created off of it.
Jason M.H. Alvarado, finance vice president, volunteered his time to go and talk during the forums or meetings. “We have been there since the design, before the blue prints were even made. I wouldn’t mind at all coming in and talking to you guys.”
“I think where we need to go now is to start getting the correct information out there and I would hope we could use The Easterner for that,” said Fleming.
Kinne reported that she had met with Dr. William Ponder, vice president for Student Affairs, for their monthly meeting to discuss the usual things that are going on in the office and what the associated students are doing.
“I showed our budget to him as well as the brainstorming of goals, the administration is very interested in what we are doing.”
She also reported to have talked to KREM 2 News, met with The Easterner and spent a considerable amount of time meeting with university relations.
She also announced that Thursday, ASEWU will be recasting the vote regarding the recreation center during the council meeting.
This measure is being taken in order to make sure that a valid vote is passed by council, recognizing that they were in violation of the open meetings act.
At the moment, the validity of the last vote is not certain for sure.
“In the interest of saving ourselves from future turmoil regarding the vote we will be having another open forum,” said Kinne. She encouraged attendance and students to go into the council meeting and voice their concerns. “We will be advertising for this and then we will recast our vote.”
Finally, she reported on the AS audit report. “We have a clean report. Our records of spending were reviewed. We are not working in the negative and we are spending our money in ways legal with the state.”
Fleming reported that the University District meeting has been rescheduled for Saturday.
There will be a presentation by a city member that will speak about where we “need to go as far as businesses and establishments and things like that that we want to see as students in downtown Spokane, around the Riverpoint/Gonzaga area.”
Alvarado also said he had talked with some students about the rec center.
“What I found is that a lot of people are hard-headed and argumentative; they have heard the inaccuracies or read them in The Easterner, and they stick to that. I hope that students would kind of keep an open mind when we go talk to them, like we have.”
Due to an internship, his office hours will be changing. They will now be 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday-Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In the Academic Affairs report, Eric Silva said that there was a consideration for the set up of an Academic Freedom reader that would allow students, faculty and staff or “anybody who is part of Eastern, to write what they feel and collaborate it all together.”
He said that at this point, whether this publication will be weekly or monthly has not been decided.
He also said that the repeat and withdraw policy article in the front page of the paper had inaccurate information.
A vote on each of the policies was still to be decided in the Academic Senate meeting that took place on Monday.
Ryan Cronrath, council representative on Student Health and Safety Services said that the Alcohol Policy Review Committee went through the campus’ alcohol policy.
They will compare the policy to that of other schools and will decide what format to use so that it is in line with what the state mandates. The next APRC meeting will take place on Feb. 23.
The meeting concluded by Kinne saying that she has been “humbled by all the media coverage that we have received.
“Part of The Easterner’s job and the students as a whole and the administration is to provide a check o
n what the associated students do. I would like to ensure you that Associated Students do not intentionally try to conduct any business behind the backs of the students. That we try to do an open book, we are never trying to hide any information particularly regarding student’s monetary concerns and the fees that they pay into,” she said. “I am extremely sorry for everything that happened and the discomfort that we may have caused the students and I would like to reiterate, that I can assure you that it will not happen again. And under no circumstances are we trying to hide information from the students. We are here to support the students and to provide them with all the necessary tools to assure their success here at Eastern. And we do not need to act like a restrictive body.”