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 systems, residence halls, ASUW commissions, commuter students, and various academic departments, among others. 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
- "Pappy" Boyington Controversy: The debate surrounding [R-12-18], a resolution proposed by Senator Andrew P. D. G. Everett to call for a memorial to Col. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, a University of Washington alumnus and [Medal of Honor] recipient, resulted in considerable controversy and attention from media outlets and blogs across the country. The debate within the Senate also resulted in [R-12-26] which was an updated version of R-12-18, as well as [R-12-24]and [R-12-28]. The controversy ultimately resulted in the creation of the Medal of Honor Memorial Taskforce after passage of R-12,26.
- [Votes of Confidence] Against Senate Chair Hala Dillsi and Senate Vice Chair Mikhail Smirnov: As a result of allegedly discouraging Senators from calling quorum during a debate over [R-13-9], a vote of confidence was called against Chair Hala Dillsi, and was immediately followed by the calling of a vote of confidence against Vice Chair Mikhail Smirnov. Both officers were affirmed by the Senate and retained their positions, and a proposed [compromise censure resolution] was tabled.
ASUW Senate Seats (15):
- ASUW Student Senate Chair
- ASUW Student Senate Vice Chair
- ASUW Student Senate Secretary
- 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
Living Group Seats (144):
- 44 Residence Hall Senators
- 44 IFC/PanHell Senators
- 56 Commuter Senators (of which 24 seats are for Local Commuters, and 8 seats each for North, West, East and South Commuters)
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
Additionally, one seat will be reserved for each Registered Student Organization other than those listed above who meets the RSO Requirements outlined in the ASUW Constitution and ASUW Senate By-Laws.
- Two representatives from the Board of Directors - the Director of Community Relations and the Director of Faculty, Administration and Academic 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.
Chair: The Chair oversees all functions of the Senate and chairs meetings of the Senate and Steering Committee.
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 breaks down into eight committees, each of which is responsible for a specific area of student government. 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 secretary, 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 committee.
Steering: 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 Chair. Session XIV Chair: Shawn Fisher
Academic Affairs: The Academic Affairs Committee considers issues pertaining to the academic life of students as well as faculty-related issues. Some issues addressed in the past include curriculum changes, implementation of a minors program, and the importance of instructor evaluations. In the past (when the Senate was the Assembly), this committee took an active role in the discussion of the Cultural and Ethnic Diversity requirement and other proposals that were brought before the Faculty Senate. Session XIV Chair: Ariane Barr
Campus Affairs: Campus Affairs is charged with looking at the issues that affect students that aren't related to academics or legislation. This includes the insurance and housing policies, the food services and special services around campus. Session XIV Chair: Holly Jones
Off-Campus Affairs: Off-Campus Affairs is charged with looking at the issues that affect students off-campus. Session XV Chair: Neil Rotta
Membership: The Membership Committee deals with all membership-related issues in the Senate. This includes informing Senators of meeting times, recruiting new members and student groups into the Senate, and conducting new member orientations. Session XIV Chair: Jon Solomon
Faculty and Administrative Affairs: This Committee is responsible for looking into the issues on campus that deal directly with the faculty or administration that are not related to curriculum or quality of life issues. This committee may deal with fees, tuition, and administrative policies on equality and discrimination. Session XIV Chair: David Kim
General Affairs: The General Affairs committee has the task of addressing issues or projects that do not readily fit into the framework of the other committees, but still represent the concerns of the Senate. This committee may explore topics and projects from a very wide subject matter. The main purpose of this committee is to work on the issues of concern that would otherwise not be examined within the Senate committees. Session XIV Chair: Jono Hanks
Publicity and Outreach: The Publicity and Outreach committee has the task of promoting senate, senate forums and other senate events as well as reaching out to the student body. Session XIV Chair: Drew Blincow
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)