Bronwyn Clarke, Director of Finance (left), Sam Ranslem, Director of Legislation (middle), John Poore, Director of Student Technology (right).
With ASUWT elections running rampant throughout campus, student government is on the mind of a lot of UWT students. Being a member of student government means spending a lot of time and energy in projects that surround the university and its students.
Once elected, what do these candidates do? Is it a position like in high school where they are elected just to say they were a member of the committee? Do they just stand by and let the University administrators do all of the work?
The 2015-2016 school year was definitely a test of the commitment ASUWT had to the students of UWT. With minimum wage increase issues, commencement tickets problems and SAFC bylaw issues, needless to say there was never a dull moment in the Student Engagement room in the UWT Y—where the ASUWT office is. With that being said, let’s take a look at a couple of ASUWT’s current members and see what they were able to accomplish while in office.
BRONWYN CLARKE, DIRECTOR OF FINANCE
Clarke ran unopposed for the Director of Finance position in the Spring 2015 election cycle. As a previous committee member for SAFC and a Politics, Philosophy and Economics major, Clarke felt like she “really wanted to be involved.” Clarke also says that she wanted to experience how politics worked within a university setting.
As a senior leader, Clarke had previous experience in the political realm. She spent time in Olympia as she was a participant in the Legislative Internship at the capitol. She also interned at the Freedom Foundation, which is “a 501c(3) non-profit think and action tank with offices in Washington and Oregon,” according to their website.
Clarke ran her campaign with the idea of UWT establishing a strong sense of shared governance, which by definition is “a professional practice model, founded on the cornerstone principles of partnership, equity, accountability, & ownership that form a culturally sensitive & empowering framework, enabling sustainable & accountability-based decisions to support an interdisciplinary design for excellent patient care.” Clarke says that in order for UWT to grow it needs “all kinds of stakeholders at the table,” and that she ran for office ultimately to give students more of a voice on campus.
While in office, Clarke took her experiences in the SAFC minimum wage talks and was the administrator for the ASUWT Minimum Wage Survey. She also administered some of the findings in the Commencement Survey, which analyzed how students felt about the five ticket limit and venue for the 2016 UWT Commencement. After the Commencement Survey, Clarke joined ASUWT President Sophie Nop in a meeting with Chancellor Pagano to speak about ASUWT’s findings. Clarke’s survey analysis ultimately led to a seat increase for commencement, and made it possible for three student seats to be established within the Commencement Committee.
Clarke says her time as the Director of Finance has been crazy. “I am so glad I did it. I learned a lot about how systematic change happens and the struggle in navigating university politics… I’ve learned how politics work more than anything else; I’ve got a lot of day-to-day real world experience of power structures,” says Clarke.
SAM RANSLEM, DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATION
Ranslem described himself in three words: no-nonsense, thorough, and passionate, which he says he brought into his first year of student government. Originally from the Tri-Cities, he has been a student at UWT since his freshman year. Ranslem says that he ran for student government to feed his legislative addiction. “To be honest, I had done this internship in Olympia and I was having politic withdrawals; I needed to do something with politics,” says Ranslem, a senior double majoring in Politics, Philosophy and Economics and Communications.
Ranslem entered the race in the Spring of 2015, right after his internship in Olympia and was originally going for the Legislative liaison, hoping to lobby for the university and its students. It wasn’t until he realized that it was a credit-based position that he switched his focus to running for the Director of Legislation. “I had already taken the credit for the internship so I thought to myself, ‘What is the next best thing?’ And it was the Director of Legislative Affairs, without a doubt,” says Ranslem.
Some of the events he led include Rock the Vote, which took place during autumn quarter. Ranslem says that he spent hours emailing legislation members throughout the state, inviting them to the Rock the Vote event, which was held at The Swiss. The event, which was held on Oct. 29th was a free live concert which was run by ASUWT and SAB and encouraged students to register and participate in the voting process.
Rock the Vote was the first event Ranslem had ever planned so he says that he learned a lot while doing it, which frequently called for long work hours. He says the whole process of organizing an event—essentially by himself—was extremely stressful. “Just starting without a ton of support it was really stressful. There wasn’t a lot of people to work with, the bulk was on me.”
Ranslem ran for his position because he wanted to see more connection between the students of UWT and the elected officials. This eventually pushed him towards leading the charge of building connections throughout the City of Tacoma and the surrounding universities. The Tacoma Coalition featured members of Pacific Lutheran University, the University of Puget Sound, Bates Technical College, Tacoma Community College, and Clover Park Technical College. The coalition had a goal of lobbying legislation for similar interests, the power by numbers model.
Ranslem also worked on a UWT Food Policy that would allow more flexibility for student groups, like ASUWT, to be able to provide food at their events.
He gave some advice for those who are running for his current position and student government as a whole: “Be cautious in general, a little bit guarded. Be open and receptive, but know who you are talking to… Never shut down a student.” He hopes that ASUWT will continue to grow and that students “continue to find way to break down walls. I don’t want it [ASUWT] all to collapse when we [current members] leave. UWT needed student government to expand and we built it to,” says Ranslem.
Graduating in June, Ranslem hopes to become a campaign manager after graduation. He seeks to work in a competitive race where his campaign is the underdog.
JOHN POORE, DIRECTOROF STUDENT TECHNOLOGY
As a write-in candidate, Poore won his position as Director of Student Technology more non-traditionally than the majority of the winning candidates. The senior Criminal Justice major and Global Engagement Honors minor wanted to run, but says he did not want to take away an opportunity for office from another student. “Last year I was looking for more ways to get involved; initially I was going to run for another position but I found out there were several other people running for it. I didn’t want to take away their voice so I did some research to find out if there was another position that no one else was running for,” says Poore.
Poore won the Director position with 11 votes, “I received a lot less than the directors who won the traditional way, they received close to a hundred votes,” says Poore. He is a transfer student from Highline Community College, and has been a student at UWT since his junior year.
Poore was part of a funding committee that decides what student technologies get implemented within campus. He examines formal proposals sent by UWT students regarding various technology needs throughout the campus. It is Poore’s job to then sift through the proposals and pick ones that are ethical. The proposal decisions are made based on the students want and need of that particular proposal.
During this past year 33 proposals were received and about half of a million dollars were allocated from those proposals. Poore paired with Patrick Pow, who was a major part in getting completely free printing on campus in the computer lab and the multimedia lab. Pow, who is the Vice Chancellor of Information Technology, fronted the money for printers so Poore was able to buy the ink through students funds.
“Last year when I was running, that was one of the main complaints from students. It was really frustrating for them that we had free printing stations but they had to bring their own paper, so we tried to make that better for them,” says Poore.
Another project Poore was working on was the Husky Card expansion. ASUWT is currently working with local businesses to establish a discount program in which students can get a certain percentage off of food choices surrounding campus if they use their Husky cards. “Students could have their parents or something load money onto their Husky cards so they could just pay with that throughout the entire campus. This is all in its beginning phase so there is still a lot to be done,” says Poore.
“I have really enjoyed the position. I feel like we have done some cool things. We have essentially doubled SAFC, now having nine voting members compared to four or five in the past. I have really tried to prepare documentation as to how the next person in this position can do this stuff so they can really hit the grounding running,” says Poore. “ I would encourage other students who are running to get engaged because students are the number one representation.”
Poore leaves off by saying that “UWT deserves a dedicated student government,” and that he “hopes the future members continue what the current members of ASUWT have built.”