Leaders convene at Pac-12 summit

N-Pac-12-Summit Colby Patterson
Michael Kutz, student body president at the University of Washington, talks to peers from across the nation at the Pac-12 Student Leadership Summit on Thursday at the Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building. Photo by Calvin Chhour.

Michael Kutz, student body president at the
University of Washington, talks to peers from
across the nation at the Pac-12 Student
Leadership Summit on Thursday at the Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building. Photo by Calvin Chhour.

ASUU hosted the first ever Pac-12 leaders summit last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Student leaders from 10 of the 12 schools attended the summit at the U, which was meant to create a more unified student voice within the Pac-12. Stanford and Cal were not able to attend.

Student government officers from each university gave presentations on how their student government is laid out, a brief history of the school and a list of accomplishments of the school’s administration from the last year.

In the presentation, ASUU vice president Sara Seastrand introduced the new infant care room in ASUU’s child care facility. Seastrand said this initiative is different from many of the other Pac-12 schools because the U has more young parents than any of the conference counterparts.

ASUU president Sam Ortiz explained his safe learning environment initiative during the presentation as well. He stressed the need for diversity trainings, such as the one he has been working on, in order for the U’s diverse student body to feel safe and welcome in classrooms.

Some initiatives proposed by student leaders from other schools stood out to ASUU officials at the summit. The idea of gender neutral restrooms on campus provoked many questions from ASUU and other student leaders. Another initiative that was viewed favorably by student leaders across the conference was the no-smoking ordinance on many Pac-12 campuses, including Washington State University, which is currently in the process of going smoke-free.

Seastrand said many of the other Pac-12 school’s initiatives were along the same lines as ASUU’s goals to be inclusive, sustainable and to foster diversity.

ASUU Chief of Staff Scott Thatcher said ASUU can implement some of the things addressed by other Pac-12 schools.

“One thing I really liked was a social media campaign called ‘Dear WSU’ that Washington State implemented to reach out to their students to give them more of a voice,” Thatcher said.

Student leaders from Oregon proposed the idea of starting a Pac-12 wheelchair sports league.

Frank Smith III, Arizona State University’s downtown campus student president, showcased ASU’s new 24/7 study area in their school of journalism and highlighted the benefits the study area has brought to students at ASU.

The student leaders also participated in a series of breakout sessions and round tables with their counterparts from across the conference.

“I really enjoyed Kirk Jower’s presentation on ethical leadership,” Ortiz said. “[He] has an immense amount of experience and is a great example of the amazing faculty and staff that we have here at the U.”

Breakout sessions with vice president of Academic Affairs Ruth Watkins and director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics Kirk Jowers were among the notable events held on Friday’s events of the summit.

“We were thrilled with all of our breakout sessions,” Seastrand said. “I think having all those speakers really added to the summit.”

The summit took tours of the U’s campus, including the Marriott Library and the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center, after a speech by the U’s athletic director Chris Hill.

“I heard many times over the course of the summit how impressed the other student leaders were and how excited they were that their schools had sent them,” Ortiz said.

Washington State University is set to host the summit next year and every school at the conference expressed a desire to hold the summit sometime in the future.

n.turner@chronicle.utah.edu