Student Union seeks student input through Improve Wash. U. campaign

| News Editor

Student Union launched its second Improve Wash. U. campaign March 24.

The Speaker of the Senate, sophomore Sophie Scott, created the Improve Wash. U. campaign last year in order to collect student input on what issues SU should address at Washington University.

According to Scott, students can write what they would like to see changed on a chalk wall on the Underpass and on a poster hanging in the Danforth University Center until the end of the week. SU will then gather the main categories of issues that students wrote down.

“From there, we will create a survey this weekend that will ask, ‘What are the three issues that you want SU to prioritize in the next year?’ and the options will be those categories,” Scott said. “That survey will be out for a week also; so, it would officially end a week from this Friday.”

Scott said that she believes the first Improve Wash. U. campaign was successful but hopes the second one can reach more students.

“We got a lot of responses on our chalk wall and DUC poster, and we got 163 survey [responses]. This year, we’re really looking to increase the amount of survey responses we get, because these are the project ideas that will be guiding Senate throughout the entire next year,” Scott said. “So, our goal for the next Improve Wash. U. this year is to get 500 survey [responses]. We think that’s attainable and a good goal jumping off of what we had last year.”

Freshman Dylan Cassilly is in charge of public relations for this year’s campaign. He hopes to improve outreach through social media pushes and sticky note campaigns.

“People will write down thoughts on sticky notes. It’s kind of the same thing as the blackboard, but you have the senator to student interaction, which is kind of cool. So, we’re going to be doing lots of those if we can,” Cassilly said. “Our goal isn’t to get super-detailed responses, just to see what the general categories of the issues are, which is kind of given: like sexual assault, diversity and inclusion, but we want to make sure we have the most up to date info on that…The sticky notes are just one way we can get the pinpoint items through that more than just writing on the chalkboard.”

Last year’s top three priorities identified from the campaign were sexual violence, mental health and socioeconomic status.

“I fully expect those three will be in the top five again…if not the top three again themselves. So, I expect to see a lot of students with concerns about mental health; that’s something that we always hear…Sexual violence was especially heightened last year because our campaign happened right in the midst of Title Mine, but I think even with the work that Title Mine has done, students will still have concerns about that as well,” Scott said.

Cassilly also said that he believes the priorities will be similar to last year’s, but hopes that the campaign will reflect changes and smaller issues as well.

“I’m hoping that sexual assault will be a little less and related issues to that because the University has made some steps towards that. I think for the general trends it’s going to be the same exact things,” Cassilly said. “I think the Gargoyle issue may come up, I really hope people will say something about that. I’m not expecting anything giant to change, but I do think the little more specific ones would be really nice. I’m the only person in Sam Fox on Senate; so, if people in Sam Fox were to put something up there that I wouldn’t realize or seniors who we lack on Senate, if they put little pinpoint items, I think that’s really cool.”

According to SU president and sophomore Tyrin Truong, representation was an important issue in last year’s Improve Wash. U. campaign.

“I anticipate…a disregard from Student Union being a concern for students. I think that will align in a way,” he said.

Senate recently changed its structure to better address and work on the priorities identified from the Improve Wash. U. campaigns.

“I think our committee structures now ensure the ideas that are brought up in Improve Wash. U. will be tackled and that the people on our Senate committees, that include students as well and student group leaders, will have the opportunity to use these results…to take on what advocacy work we want to do in the next year,” Scott said.

Truong believes the feedback from the Improve Wash. U. campaign will be valuable.

“As an exec board, we plan to center Improve Wash. U. more as a Student Union-wide thing in terms of what Student Union addresses at a whole,” he said.

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