Associated Students of Madison Student Council gathered Tuesday evening to continue the discussion of the creation of a First-Year Involvement Committee within the organization.
Proposed at the March 7 student council meeting, the new committee would encourage freshman and first-year transfer students to make their voices heard by having a space dedicated solely to the discussion of the unique issues faced by that group of students.
Rep. Jeremy Swanson feared the creation of a first-year involvement committee would be a “gut reaction” to overturn previous rulings and create a role specifically for freshman within the club.
Swanson argued the voices of freshmen are already being represented because members of ASM listening to their concerns and relaying them back to the committee.
“We already represent freshman,” Swanson said. “It’s not like they don’t have a voice, we are their voice. We listen to their voices, we talk and reach out to them.”
Rep. Alexandra Hader echoed Swanson’s views and added a new committee would be jumping too far into the issue without looking into other options, such as informal discussions or the creation of an ad hoc committee.
Hader also raised concerns on how a committee tailored specifically to the needs of first-year students would fit into the three main focuses of ASM — allocation, grassroots organizations and shared governance. If the committee is just going to be a space for discussion, there are alternative options available.
Rep. Ethan Carpenter said while a first-year committee might not appear to fit within the realm of ASM’s focus areas on the surface, it is something in which the organization should invest itself.
“[A first-year involvement committee] would focus on grassroots organizing with respect to issues relating to people adjusting to UW,” Carpenter said.
Rep. Ekenedilichukwu Ikegwuani was also favor of the new committee, stating it is important to hear issues as they unfold from those who are experiencing them.
Listening to the issues of first-year students indirectly does not have the same effect because it is harder for those who are not in their first year of college to remember the way those experiences felt, Ikegwuani said.
“I think back to my freshman year and try to remember issues I had to deal with as a freshman that I haven’t had to deal with since and I can’t remember them,” Ikegwuani said.
Ikegwuani argued that ASM is not doing a good enough job listening to underrepresented groups, like first-year students and racial minorities. He encouraged the organization to allow first-year students a chance to voice their opinions.
Rep. Dylan Resch reiterated Ikeguwani’s viewpoint, stating that ASM needs to start doing a better job letting those who feel unheard speak out.
“Are we not ourselves a shared governance committee? Why aren’t we sharing the governance?” Resch said.
In a vote of 12-5-0, the legislation to create a First-Year Involvement Committee was adopted and will be voted on a second time at the next meeting.
The proposed policy create an undue financial burden on graduate students, ASM outreach director Yogev Ben-Yitshack said in a statement.
“This policy discriminates against graduate assistants who cannot afford to pay the mandatory fees right away, and as a school, we should strive to be as inclusive as possible to our students, including our graduate students and teaching assistants,” Ben-Yitshack said.