ASWSUV: Community, affordability and accessibility

Associated Students of Washington State University Vancouver President Skye Troy and Vice President Samy Reel work tirelessly to ensure students’ voices are getting heard. From bathroom calendars to lobbying for a tuition freeze, these two have their fair share of goals to attain. However, their goals are not just goals, they are the values that Troy and Reel strive to achieve and maintain.

Troy and Reel are no strangers to leadership. Troy served as a senator at Mt. Hood Community College and then became the director of state and federal affairs. She then came to Washington State University Vancouver and served as a senator here for half a semester before becoming the associate director of legislative affairs. Reel began working as a senator at WSU Vancouver before becoming external affairs chair. Troy said that what drives her and Reel is that “These are not just the goals we strive for, these are the values we strive for.”

Student power is the driving force behind ASWSUV’s current goals. Troy has submitted a proposal to Nancy Youlden, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment, and Lynn Valenter, vice chancellor for finance and operations, to get informational events calendars put into the bathrooms around campus. Clark College has done something similar, and it is wildly popular; the idea behind the move is that students should have easy access to event information.

Many students say they would attend events around campus, but they do not know when they are being held. Troy and Reel are actively trying to increase civic engagement on campus. They are in contact with students on 16 different university committees to advocate for student rights. This includes a student on the Pullman campus to make sure Vancouver voices are heard.

“Building connections is the highlight of what we do,” Reel said. While working on other goals, Reel’s main focus this year is on veteran support. Veterans are a fast growing part of the WSU Vancouver community and making sure their voices are heard as they grow in population is important. Veterans are underrepresented across the board and the steps being taken by Reel and others are giving veterans a voice. Veterans have received the Undergrad Travel Grant, been placed on the ASWSUV senate and a veteran currently serves on the Chancellor Student Advisory Board (CSAB). The CSAB is composed of students who directly discuss student issues with the Chancellor.

In addition to furthering veterans’ causes, Troy and Reel are currently lobbying for a tuition freeze. This tuition freeze also brings to the forefront Open Education Resources (OER). OERs are free resources for instructors and students to use instead of textbooks and other costly materials. They would like to see more teachers utilizing OERs in the future to help reduce the economic burden on students. The initiative for OERs began on the WSU Vancouver campus and has since spread to the other campuses in the WSU network.

Troy and Reel also said that there is a new university council on campus called the Accessibility Council. Working with Julia Conrad, ASWSUV is planning to create an accessibility training event with the purpose of training faculty, staff and students in accessibility issues. This training will addresses potential physical, technical, curricular and co-curricular barriers to both teaching and learning. This is the first year that the Accessibility Council is an official council.

Troy said that the reason they advocated for this council is because “We believe in student power.” Troy and Reel are working hard with the other WSU campuses to create a sound, streamlined process of student government. They want to work with the other leadership teams to strengthen community, affordability and accessibility across the WSU family. They believe in the power of the student voice, and by strengthening college family bonds, they strengthen student voices and representation. This university wide effort reviews the student government constitutions, with the aim of making new policies in the bi-laws and creating resources that are mutually constructive.

ASWSUV is a team working towards their mission: “To us leadership isn’t about who screams the loudest or who should get credit for things… leadership is about bringing people along with you, bridging gaps and creating opportunities to help others reach their potential. We value our students, we value our mission, we value student voice.” To connect with ASWSUV and get your voice heard, connect with them in the Office of Student Involvement or on CougSync.

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