ASUWT is working to progress past the pandemic

ASUWT President Vincent Da discusses previous initiatives and rolls out winter plans to combat COVID implications within the university.

The Associated Students of the University of Washington Tacoma President, Vincent Da, discussed their previous initiatives and upcoming plans to engage with more students. 

Da said they’ll focus on expanding student advocacy, student engagement on campus and providing students with more resources to succeed.

“During fall quarter, we were able to engage with advocacy by primarily focusing on [voter] registration for the elections,” Da said. 

He explained that the ASUWT focused on getting students registered to vote. They spread awareness by partnering with the Center for Equity & Inclusion on their “Real Talk” series about the history of voting and why it matters. 

When it came to the pillar of engagement, ASUWT focused specifically on building the community.

“We made a goal as a team to partner with departments on campus for every event to one, help reduce zoom fatigue for students, and two, create the best possible experience combining organizations energy and resources,” Da said. 

After three quarters of remote learning, Da believes the ASUWT can help students push through this fatigue by working with other organizations.

“The most difficult challenges I see for our campus is keeping students motivated and engaged about campus events,” Da said. “Now that we have the hang of online school and events, things we have learned about is that students feel zoom fatigue as well.” 

Da described how ASUWT started study lounges and discussions related to voting by partnering with on-campus organizations. They were able to fund new technology for students as well.

“Partnerships we have done in the fall were the Student Activities Board [and] the Center for Equity & Inclusion,” Da said.“Not only that but our last pillar of student resources, we voted in agreement with the student tech fee to fund extra laptops, Wi-Fi mobile hotspots, and other technologies for students to rent.”

Da also mentioned that the ASUWT has several initiatives this winter quarter to extend each pillar.

“For advocacy, we are releasing a new initiative with the Center for Equity & Inclusion called EMBRACE, which is an acronym that stands for embracing myself for better Racial Awareness & Cultural Engagement,” Da said.

He said that EMBRACE is a student cohort focused on talking about social change, identity and race in a safe and welcoming environment.

“For engagement, we have plans to host a student poetry event with the University Academic Advising and Student Activities Board in February.”

Da said that the Huskies on the Hill, an event that provides UW students the opportunity to travel to Olympia and lobby on behalf of student issues, is being planned for early February. Da explained further, stating that with UW Seattle and Bothell, it will be a tri-campus effort focused on legislative lobbying in the state capital.

Although he said much of the ASUWT is still running smoothly, he noted that COVID was a barrier to some of their progress.

“The most difficult part was learning to adjust while state plans and restrictions were ever so changing,” Da said. “We had to learn how to use Zoom for classes while also trying to navigate how we can host events online that are meaningful for students.”

Da noted key events and plans that were delayed, such as the spring Senate elections moving to the fall quarter and being held entirely online. 

“We had to adjust our elections to being online, and our voter turnout was lower than we wanted to,” Da said. “An example we learned is coming up with incentives for people to attend such as giveaways, swag raffles, and dawg points by the Center for Student Involvement on campus.”

Da said that partnering with other organizations on campus is a crucial part of keeping students engaged. 

“Partnerships are key because student energy and time are valuable,” he said. “You don’t want to create a scenario where two events are competing for student attention.”

Da advised new students to find ways to be involved despite the COVID restrictions. 

“An advice I would say for new students such as freshmen or transfer students are making goals to attend one event online,” he said. “I know that COVID-19 has affected many people, and since we have been online, it can also be an isolating feeling.”

Moreover, he also mentioned that COVID restrictions don’t need to keep students bored. He explained that virtual events don’t have some of the limitations of in-person events, such as poor timing or long commutes.

“I know that commuting was an obstacle for students getting involved in events,” Da said. “However, a good positive aspect about online school is that it removes that barrier for students, and they can attend online.”

Da said the ASUWT plans on overcoming students’ possible motivation problems or confusion with campus resources by teaming up with other on-campus organizations to maximize resources and expedite the process of giving students the support they need.

He hopes that everyone will cooperate to get through this pandemic and that students aren’t afraid to reach out for help.

“It will take all of us to safely make it through this pandemic and do your best to help others as this time is difficult for some,” Da said. “Reach out to people, and don’t forget to take care of yourself.”