OSLA leaves legislative director position vacant

Following an extended application process, the Office of Student Legislative Affairs has officially hired Shawn Jafri as its organizing director and Joy Hoang as its community relations coordinator for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year. The newly  hired representatives began work effective July 11, 2013.

OSLA began advertising openings for its three positions—organizing director, legislative director and community relations coordinator—on May 1, 2013. Following the 2012-2013 school year, it was determined that the previously dormant community relations coordinator position needing revision.

“Based on the 2012-2013 school year with Kristin Velez serving as our legislative director and Tweedy Pham as our organizing director we determined we needed that third position back,” said OSLA Staff Adviser Brandon Lueken. “It is incredibly hard for the organizing director to do everything on campus and the legislative director to be in Olympia and still have everything coordinated that we needed to do.”

“We noticed early on there was a need to build more of a community. Politics is something that touches each and every one of our lives,” said Lueken. “Ultimately what the legislators [want] to see [is]a united student front.”

The community relations coordinator position is designed with this task in mind. Its purpose is to build a politically active and politically focused community on campus, similarly to how the LGBTQ Resource Center, El Centro Latino, or the Black Student Union might do so.

“It creates a safe space and a safe audience for OSLA’s work and legislative action,” said Lueken.

Meanwhile, the legislative director position currently remains unfilled. In the past, students who hold this position have been tasked with living in Olympia to testify and interact with the Washington State Legislature. Bellevue College is currently the only community college in Washington state to have a student representative full-time in Olympia.

There were three applicants for the position, however two of those applicants failed to meet the minimum requirements which meant they were not eligible to interview. A third applicant did meet the minimum requirements, however failed to show up to their scheduled interview. An appeal was filed by one or more of the applicants failing to meet the minimum requirements.“The appeal argued that the minimum qualifications were either too high or not representative of whether or not a student could perform well in the position,” said Lueken.

The 2012-2013 ASG viewed the appeal and determined that while there was some validity to the claims made, it was not enough to overturn the minimum requirements already in place. Their reason behind this decision was that to do so would require restarting the entire hiring process in order for it to remain fair and equitable, which in doing so, would invalidate the work everyone else had put in. They would instead revisit it for future hiring. Additionally, the outgoing ASG ruled the applicants could appeal to the newly elected 2013-2014 ASG.

Upon appealing to the 2013-2014 ASG, the same conclusion was reached.

[The current ASG] would prefer to have people who interviewed well and were very interested in OSLA to be brought on, and have the legislative director position sit empty until we can reassess the position and determine what we really want from it,” said Lueken.

ASG’s bylaws, OSLA’s bylaws and Student Programs staff currently determine the minimum requirements for the positions.

The hiring process for the position is due to resume in fall. Until then, applicants have the opportunity to revise their applications. The judicial board is also in the process of reviewing the bylaws.

It is currently under consideration that the position be left vacant for the 2013-2014 school year.

“It’s possible that the position will not be filled and it’s possible the position will be filled. At the moment it is vacant until OSLA and ASG align what they want to do on a legislative issue,” said Lueken.

“We’re also looking at the possibility, if we do hire, maybe not living there, but just commuting,” said Student Program Associate Director Nora Lance.

ASGPresident Zawdie Stephens-Terry acknowledged the ASG’s decision to reject the appeals put forth by applicants not meeting the minimum requirements and postpone hiring a legislative director until fall, however declined to comment toward any consideration that the position might remain vacant for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year.