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ASW increases internal communication after canceled events due to absence of officers

The ASW office in Shaw Student Center sits dark and empty Oct. 8 after the Cooking Demonstration was meant to be held in the Health, Wellness and Activity Center. ASW will begin to increase internal communication to avoid future problems. Although students said they appreciated the efforts from ASW to keep campus events going throughout the pandemic, they said more communication is needed. (Lauren Soughro)

ASW will begin to hold weekly board meetings — in lieu of its previous bi-weekly meetings — after miscommunication within the board led to canceled events because of an absence of student government officers. 

This miscommunication largely stemmed from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to President Obaid Barakzai, prompting the board to seek increased communication. 

“Due to the imperativeness in communication influenced by COVID-19, now the ASW Board Members meet every week,” Barakzai said in an email to The Forum. 

ASW Cooking Demonstration canceled after absence of students, officers

This comes after ASW’s Cooking Demonstration event on Oct. 8 was canceled when no students or representatives from ASW attended the event. 

Laura Iverson-Bastiani, the assistant director of fitness, wellness and recreation, planned to host the cooking demonstration — regularly hosting the Health, Wellness and Athletic Center (HWAC) Happy Hour. During these events, Iverson-Bastiani teaches students and faculty how to make healthy, easy and budget-friendly meals. 

“Normally my events, I put in our monthly newsletter, I put flyers up around HWAC and I also send out a campus-wide email,” Iverson-Bastiani said. 

Although she worked in collaboration with ASW for this event, Iverson-Bastiani said she wasn’t a part of their advertising. 

“ASW only posted the one post on Instagram, and I think there were some flyers made, and I’m not sure if those just went into the residential halls, I never saw any,” Iverson-Bastiani said.

After roughly 20 minutes, Iverson-Bastiani began packing up her utensils — noting the absence of students and ASW officers. 

ASW Events President Isaac Landau said several members of the events team had “scheduling conflicts,” making them unable to attend. 

“Several members of ASW Events had scheduling conflicts resulting in our lack of participation and communication,” Landau said in an email to The Forum. “Something like this will not happen again.”

ASW to increase internal communication, citing challenges from pandemic

In previous years, attendance from ASW officers was “usually high,” according to President Obaid Barakzai. But with the pandemic posing public health concerns, fewer board members chose to attend. 

“The increase in the number of meetings is not necessarily and/or specifically in response to the cooking event,” Barakzai said in an email. “But [it’s] in response to increasing consistent communication so we can get more projects done amid a global pandemic, which has certainly made everything, including communication, a bit more difficult.”

Barakzai said the increase in meetings should help to address future problems, “including addressing similar yet different challenges events like the Cooking Demonstration faced.”

Students Tabitha Edson, a junior public health major, and Victoire Soumano, a geology major, arrived at the event 25 minutes after its start time. They said they came from another ASW event: Hot Drinks Hot Topics. 

Both students said they weren’t notified that “Hot Drinks Hot Topics” had been canceled that night. When they showed up, there were no students or ASW representatives present. 

“We went to Richer Commons by Shaw for an ASW event, but we realized that that event might’ve been canceled,” Edson said. “So we came about 20 minutes late to the HWAC special events room for ASW cooking night.”

The two students said they arrived for the cooking demonstration while Iverson-Bastiani was packing up. 

“Nobody came, except us,” Soumano said.

Soumano said students may have not attended because they were uncomfortable coming to an in-person event. Others may have not known about it. 

Edson agreed, noting it’s more difficult to advertise events during the pandemic — especially when there are fewer students on campus because of online classes. 

“I think it is hard this year with COVID,” Edson said. “I guess in general there’s not a lot of communication.”

Edson said she heard about the event through the ASW weekly email sent out to students. However, she said she didn’t see other advertisements. 

Students request increased communication, ASW looks ahead to future events

In the future, Edson said that increased messages with updated communication would be helpful for students. That way they don’t show up to an event if it’s been canceled.

“Thank you to ASW for still trying to plan [events],” Edson said. “I know it is super hard with everything COVID-related changing so fast in our city and on our campus, but I appreciate the effort.”

Soumano agreed, noting it’s hard for first-year students “to connect on campus.”

“The fact [ASW is] still willing to put in effort to try and bring us together, and build the Westminster community is really good,” Soumano said. 

Although the two Oct. 8 events were canceled, President Obaid Barakzai said he and his board are working behind-the-scenes on projects to benefit the student body. 

Despite a slow start to the semester — largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the delay in filling all seats of the student board — ASW members say they have several events planned for students for the remainder of the semester. 

These include a CommUNITY Talk with President Beth Dobkin, where students can address concerns with the administration, and an ASW and Chill to learn more about opportunities for International Students. Information on these events is expected to be released in the coming weeks. 

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