ASUWB Organization Design
The Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell (ASUWB) Organization Design showcases the ability to understand institutional policy and make context-aware design choices. Creating an organizational structure that reflects the mission as well as the people in it, takes monumental effort upfront.
I mainly contributed through helping create a sustainable organization model supported by research and user feedback. In other instances, I reviewed the legislative revisions and prevented loopholes.
September 2017 | 9 Months
Design Consultant, Research
Associated Students of University of Washington Bothell
The Constitution and Bylaws had not been updated for more than a decade since when the constituency was around half of the current student population. Now, it oversees governance of over 5,500 students and $3 Million in budget. None of the documents reflected current practices or the organizational structure and it threatened the integrity of our organization. We quickly needed a major revision.
Luckily, in the 2017 term, two major policy nerds joined the team and a Vice President who was extremely effective at project management. We began the revision process in early Fall and was able to ratify it through the student body in the following Spring. The policy nerds did the heavy-lifting in writing out the legislation and they were very talented at it.
We looked at an organization model right next to us which was on the UW Seattle campus. There organization was much bigger and complex since their undergrad population is approximately around 45,000.
UW Tacoma have a more comparable scale as UW Bothell with undergrad population at around 4,500. However, they have a separate functioning student senate while we didn’t.
Old Model (Last Updated in 2006)
When we analyzed the current organization model, we identified 4 key problems:
The Constitution & Bylaws were written by error, so that only 5 of 16 members have voting power in official meetings (President, Vice President, Director of Public Relations, Director of Business Operations, and Director of Student Advocacy)
Two executive board positions were missing job descriptions. The total compensation of these positions equated to over $30,000 in our budget.
Ambiguous roles for Senators often led to inefficient spending of time and resources.
Loopholes prevented elected members to be impeached through a standardized process.
There were also constraints.
We need to create a model that can generally outline the function of each position while staying flexible to sustain the changes in the future.
We need to check in with the Attorney General of UW Bothell to ensure that the changes are in compliance with university policy.
We need quorum to pass the changes: at least 2/3 of voting members present.
The amendments have to be made before the upcoming elections and during the elections (at the end of April), we need a majority vote of approval with least one-third of student population voting.
Major changes were made for the first iteration. The biggest one was to remove the class-based senators and instead, reorganizing them by function, creating a considerable workforce for groups. Other changes include:
Director of Business Operations is divided to Director of Community Relations which manages the relationships with the city of Bothell, and Treasurer which manages the financial budget of ASUWB.
Director of Student Advocacy was changed to Director of Student Relations to cover the function of academic affairs.
Director of Internal Affairs was created as a function of HR and Parliamentarian was created for official interpretation of ASUWB Constitution & Bylaws.
Rebranding of existing positions to accurately reflect the positions: Director of Public Relations to Director of Outreach & Marketing, Legislative Intern to Legislative Liaison.
Feedback + Final Version
Based on the research, we decided to create a model that prioritized the scale of our campus and the current function of the student government organization. We revised many positions while staying true to our original mission and being cognizant of the feedback we received from the team.
First, not taking away student access to opportunity was important, ensuring that our budget (which comes from students’ pockets") is used effectively and towards improving the overall campus experience. Next, we didn’t want to create a hierarchy between elected students. We needed contextual understanding of each positional description.
Ultimately, we chose an organizational structure that is most flexible and easily modifiable in the future, as needs of a university changes according to the times.
After managing to approve all the changes in time, we had a short period of time to let the student body know of the changes. It was rather a meticulous schedule that we had to follow but a smooth sailing for the most of the time. As the result, we got a 95.6% approval rating from nearly one-third of the student population that voted– a successful win for the organization and the special committee.
The year after revision of the Constitution and the Bylaws, we received a lot of feedback from the new team and continued to iterate on the structure. We implemented a check-in system where we constantly collect qualitative data from student government and run an analysis of the effectiveness of the structure, resulting in the reduction of team functions.
While the changes were made, the process was much simpler this time since much of the amendments made previously allowed for more flexible changes.