ASEWU: 2019 in review


Richard N. Clark IV

ASEWU President Dante Tyler responding to questions at the Media and Politics panel discussion on May 16, 2019. Tyler is graduating from EWU at the end of this school year and will be attending law school at the University of Washington next fall.

By Jeremy Burnham, Managing Editor

ASEWU officers are wrapping up their final duties before the school year ends and another group takes over. That is, except for Connor Attridge.

ASEWU duties

Attridge is the outgoing technology advancement officer and the incoming vice president. Attridge, and others in ASEWU, perform various duties throughout the year, but some students may not know a lot about  their student government. Even Attridge admits he wasn’t fully aware of how much the job involved before stepping into his current role.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Attridge said. “I was on the student government at Wenatchee Valley Community College and my responsibilities there were very light.”

Outgoing ASEWU President Dante Tyler expressed similar sentiments.

“I viewed A.S. (Associated Students) a little differently than I do now, obviously, in hindsight,” Tyler said. “A.S. is a governing body. It’s not necessarily the body that is going to be doing the programming or doing all the different things around school. They are the people talking to faculty and administration and telling them, ‘these are the programs we need.’”  

Tyler said as the school year went on, his job became clearer. He says the ASEWU president is the voice of the students in communication with the school. There are many students on campus with many opinions. It would be impossible for university President Mary Cullinan to have one-on-one conversations with every student. Tyler says this is where ASEWU comes in. He says his job is to listen to students’ concerns, and then take those concerns to the school.

“A.S. is your voice,” Tyler said. “It is your voice to be heard. Just like any government. We’re the people who are going to be funding a lot of the things going on, but we are also the people who have the ear of the president, the ear of the board of trustees, the ear of the public. We’re the people who say, ‘oh we don’t like this policy? Then we’re going to fight this policy.’ Sometimes we may not agree with what we are fighting for, but if the students want it, we are fighting for it.”

Attridge said his job as the technology advancement officer also centered around listening to students. He chaired the technology fee committee. All students pay a technology fee every quarter they attend EWU. This committee decides how money from this fee is spent.

“This year we approved things like WiFi improvement across campus,” Attridge said. “People told me a lot, ‘hey, you’re in this position, I think we need better WiFi.’ That’s how it was brought up to me.”

Upgrades to the WiFi in several buildings, including Kingston and Martin Halls, will take place over the summer. Another service the board approved to fund is a laptop kiosk on the Spokane campus so that students there can easily borrow laptops.

Dante Tyler’s role

Tyler said at the start of the year, his focus was on raising school spirit and starting a video broadcast to keep students updated on what ASEWU was doing.

Midway through the year, his attention turned to food insecurity on campus and on ways he could bring awareness to the problem.

“It’s interesting because it’s something I didn’t realize was a serious issue,” said Tyler. “In hindsight, I should have known it was more of an issue than I did.”

He worked closely with a Washington state student lobby organization in its ongoing effort to change food stamp laws to allow easier food-stamp access for college students. He also talked about the issue during his meetings with Cullinan and urged the school to continue to expand its efforts to provide food pantries, something the school is doing. Tyler also talked about the issue to the media to help raise awareness.

“As soon as I got involved and started learning about food insecurity, I knew that was a serious issue that needed to be solved,” said Tyler. “I know it’s a lot easier to say it’s solved than it is to actually solve it, but I think we made some strides as a community in addressing food insecurity. I think I helped get the word out. I think The Easterner did a good job in getting the word out, and now, we have The Spokesman calling people and trying to get the word out. Everybody sees it as a huge issue now.”

Tyler says he is happy that his efforts in food insecurity will not die with him. His successor, Key Baker, campaigned on the issue.

A.S. is your voice. It is your voice to be heard. Just like any government. We’re the people who are going to be funding a lot of the things going on, but we are also the people who have the ear of the president, the ear of the board of trustees, the ear of the public. ”

— Dante Tyler, ASEWU President

Looking ahead

Not every student feels ASEWU has been the best voice for students. Baker happens to be one such student.

In the candidate debate in April, Baker said the school and student government have room for improvement.

“I’ll be honest in saying that I do not think EWU has been a perfect place,” Baker said. “And I do not think ASEWU has been a perfect student government. I’m very happy to hear that some of the other candidates think of Eastern as a home, that’s great … But I do know there are a lot of students on campus who do not feel the same way. We need more representation for students of color.”

Richard N. Clark IV
Next year’s ASEWU President Key Baker defending her victory to the ASEWU election board following a grievance filed by her opponent Reilly Responte. Baker won the general election by 11 votes.

Baker won the presidency by 11 votes and her victory withstood a grievance from her opponent, Reilly Responte. In a phone interview, she told The Easterner she’s excited to be able to move on from the appeal process and focus on her term. She promised to stay committed to providing representation for students of color.

“I am proud that about half of my cabinet will be students of color,” Baker said.

For Tyler, the job has been in line with his career aspirations. He wants to be a politician after finishing school. His next stop? Law school. Earlier in the quarter, The Easterner reported that Tyler had earned the Thomas More Scholarship, a prestigious scholarship at Gonzaga University and would be heading there this fall. Since then, however, he’s been accepted into the University of Washington’s law program, and will be headed there instead.

The current ASEWU team holds office until graduation, then the new team takes over.