The Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) Student Senate is the opinion-making body of the ASUW. It is responsible for representing all students of the University of Washington.
The Student Senate was founded during the summer of 1994 from the foundations of its predecessor, known as the Student Assembly, which was formed in the 1980's. During the Spring 1994 elections, the student body passed by majority vote constitutional reforms proposed by the soon-to-be 1994-95 ASUW President Phil Neiswender.
The Senate was built with a diverse membership in mind to ensure that groups throughout campus would be aware of the ASUW's activities, and that the ASUW would be aware of issues affecting students. Its membership includes representatives from the Greek and Multi-Greek Communities, residence halls, ASUW commissions, various academic departments, and students . There are also at-large members, the ASUW President's proxy, and liaisons from the Board of Directors.
Any student, though not able to vote, may submit legislation or speak on any issue during the public forum segment of the Student Senate meetings.
The Student Senate is looked to by faculty and administrators alike as the voice of the student body and resolutions passed by the Student Senate are taken as the official postions of University of Washington students.
Notable Events & Legislation
ASUW Senate Seats (14):
- ASUW Student Senate Speaker
- ASUW Student Senate Vice Speaker
- ASUW Student Senate Membership Coordinator
- ASUW President, or proxy
- Senator from the Asian Student Commission
- Senator from the American Indian Student Commission
- Senator from the Black Student Commission
- Senator from the Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian Transgender Commission
- Senator from the La Raza Student Commission
- Senator from the Pacific Islander Student Commission
- Senator from the Students with Disabilities Commission
- Senator from the Women's Action Commission
- Two Senators from the Graduate and Professional Student Senate
Dedicated Registered Student Organization (RSO) Seats (8):
- Black Student Union
- First Nations
- Asian American Student Union
- MEChA Student Organization
- Student Advisory Board
- Inter Fraternity Council
- Residence Hall Student Association
- Two representatives from the Board of Directors - the Director of Community Relations and the Director of University Affairs.
- One representative of the Student Activities Office.
All Senate executive positions are elected in the final weeks of Spring quarter by secret ballot. They formally assume their roles at the final meeting of Spring quarter under the watchful eye of the outgoing leadership.
Vice Speaker (Formerly: Vice Chair): The Vice Chair assumes the responsibilities of the Chair in the absence of the Chair. The Vice Chair also represents the Senate to the BOD and other organizations and oversees all Senate Standing Committees. The Chair may coordinate with the Vice Chair to ensure these duties are carried out.
Membership Coordinator: The Membership Coordinator is in charges of maintaining membership rosters, overseeing attendance records, and chairing the Membership Committee.
Senate Liaisons: Senate Liaisons attend various meetings as voting members. Their main task is to communicate between the Senate and other ASUW entities. They represent Senate interests to the committee, and report on committee activities to the Senate.
The Student Senate is composed of a Steering Committee, Standing Legislative Committees, Standing Non-Legislative Committees, Select Committees, and Special Committees. During the first weeks of Fall Quarter the Senate will elect a chair for each of the standing committees. Each committee sets its own agenda, elects a Vice Chair, and provides reports on its activities to the Senate. The committees distribute projects among Senators. These projects include researching issues as a group, consider legislation that comes before them and providing student representation as Governance appointees for the ASUW on university committees. Because they are smaller and more focused than the Senate as a whole, the committees are able to consider issues in greater depth. The main importance of the committees is that all legislation that comes before the Senate must pass through the appropriate committee. As such, the committees are the heart of the Senate.
Each Senator is responsible for participation in one legislative or one non-legislative committee.
The Senate Steering Committee governs Senate, sets the agenda and discusses all Organic Acts, as well as refers all other legislation to the proper place. It consists of all other Committee Chairs and Senate Officers, and is Chaired by the Senate Speaker.
Legislative Standing Committees
On Campus Student Life: This committee is empowered to consider and write legislation that relates to Student life on campus, including issues related to the residence halls, RSOs, and other non-academic issues. Formerly Campus Affairs.
Off Campus Student Life: This committee is empowered to consider and write legislation that relates to Student life off campus, including issues related to commuters, tenant and landlord relations, and other issues. Formerly Off-Campus Affairs.
Academic and Administration Affairs: This Committee is empowered to consider and write legislation that relates to academic issues on or off campus, including how students interact with the administration. Formerly Faculty and Administrative Affairs.
General Affairs: This committee is empowered to consider and write legislation that relates to commendations of persons, organizations, or entities the Senate deems worthy, as well as issues relating to other issues that students wish to formulate opinion on.
Non-Legislative Standing Committees
Oversight: This committee shall communicate with all Senate Liaisons, reviewing their performance and requesting reports as needed. This committee is empowered to submit a request for information to a member of the Board of Directors. This committee can, with a 50% vote, create a recall motion that will be placed at the top of the agenda for that meeting of the Senate. The Vice Speaker is a member of this committee.
Style, Presentation, and Formatting:This committee shall receive all legislation to review them to ensure that they are in the proper format, that their grammar is correct, and that they match the appropriate style for Senate Legislation. The Committee shall also suggest a Legislative Committee to review the legislation. The Senate Speaker is a member of this committee.
Publicity, Outreach, and Membership: This Committee shall work to promote Senate to the community, coordinate with the Membership Coordinator to train new Delegates and Senators, and review the performance of current Senators. The Membership Coordinator is a member of this committee. Formerly Publicity and Outreach and Membership.
Senate Officer Review Committee: This committee meets whenever a formal complaint has been filed against a paid Senate Officer. It is charged with recommending whether the Board of Directors should suspend or reinstate pay to a Senate Officer, as well as with drafting an Organic Act to remove a Senate Officer if necessary. If this committee has not been called by the fifth week of Spring Quarter, it will meet to discuss general related issues and make recommendations. It is chaired by the Senate Liaison to the Judicial Committee.
The findings of the Senate Reform Taskforce, when presented on the 2005 ballot, were passed with 56.12% of the vote. This was followed by a vote in 2006 to enable the Senate to propose Constitutional Referenda.
Types of Legislation
Resolution: Statements of student opinion. (Any student can submit a resolution)
Senate Bill: Policy recommendations. If approved by the Board they carry the same authority as a Board Bill. (Must be a Senator to submit a Senate Bill)
Organic Act: Any legislation which would result in action internal to the Senate, such as a Rule or By-law change, Creation of a Senate Reform Committee or officer elections. (Must be a Senator to submit an Organic Act)
Senate Order: Acts that do not require approval of the Board, such as ordering a Board Recall Election. (Must be a Senator to submit a Senate Order)
Legislative Directive: Any proposal relating to the ASUW's Legislative Agenda and bills being proposed in State Legislature after the ratification of the Legislative Agenda. If passed, allows the ASUW Lobbyist to lobby as directed. (Must be a Senator or Legislative Steering Committee Member to submitt a Legislative Directive)