ASUWT mid-quarter update

ASUWT President Vincent Da talks graduation 2021 and bans on external proctor services.

The Associated Students of the University of Washington Tacoma President, Vincent Da, discussed several initiatives and plans that the student government currently has underway. Currently, in ASUWT’s view is graduation 2021 as well as a recent discussion with faculty on a ban of external proctor services. Finally, Da provided a wrap-up on the ASUWT Senate elections.

As of right now, UW Tacoma’s administration and ASUWT are in the works of figuring out what to do for this year’s graduation. Da stated that last year’s virtual tri-campus graduation ceremony felt impersonal for UWT students, and there is now talk of UWT hosting their own virtual ceremony for this year.

“A lot of feedback we got from last year was that they really didn’t speak to Tacoma,” Da said. “It was just a Youtube video. It didn’t have too much of our Tacoma experience. I talked with Mentha [Hynes-Wilson] … we do agree that we don’t want to work with UW Seattle in the future, because it just wasn’t our experience. So, we talked about how we might plan for an in-person or a virtual one that will work for us.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UW Tacoma was forced to forgo their graduation — traditionally held in the Tacoma Dome — and instead was integrated into a ceremony for all three UW campus’ students, with UW President Ana Marie Cauce having advertised it as a “one-of-a-kind, live, worldwide and interactive webcast.”

Nothing for the new graduation ceremony has been set in stone yet. However, Da indicated that they are trying to keep it within the local Tacoma limits, such as having it back in the Tacoma Dome or perhaps in the Stadium High School’s bowl, and that what they do decide on will adhere to whatever advised coronavirus safety regulations are in place.

“We still have time until spring,” Da said. “Right now, we don’t know, especially with the number of cases on the rise again now.”

Da also talked about the faculty’s current discussions regarding a proposed ban on external proctor services such as ProctorU. These services are oftentimes employed on important exams by faculty members in order to prevent students from cheating. To do this, though, students typically pay a fee and need to provide access to their web cameras to a third party to monitor their test taking, which some feel is a violation of their privacy.

“We actually brought this up last year to the faculty executive council about banning this,” Da said. “So we’re glad that they are starting to take the initiative to ban it. Our position: we voted to say ‘yes’ to ban it because one, it puts the cost on the student … and also [it’s] an invasion of privacy.”

For ASUWT itself, Da noted it has been a lot harder for them to operate without a Senate to give updates on the different schools’ students. Now that most of the Senate elections have wrapped up — only a run-off election in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences is left to be decided — Da is excited to be able to talk to senators and ensure students are having their voices be heard.

While the votes are in on who is elected to the Senate, a few positions remain empty. Currently, senator positions in Urban Studies, Education, Engineering and Technology and pre-major have yet to be filled. The positions have been opened up on the ASUWT’s Handshake accounts for interested students. In all, 84 votes were cast for the entire Senate elections.

Finally, Da stated he has been happy with the expansion of wifi hotspots around the campus’ parking lots along with the expansion of charging stations around campus. Additionally, the Student Technology Fee Committee has purchased new battery packs for students using the parking lot wifi, alleviating students from potentially having their laptops or phones running out of battery on them or idling their vehicle to charge electronics.

“One thing we didn’t want was students running their [car] battery in the parking lot,” Da said. “We didn’t want students to waste their battery and be mindful of their gas emissions, so students can actually check out battery packs from the computer lab.”