Mary Gates Leadership Scholar, Autumn 2022
Leadership Project: Reassessment and Restructure of the Student Technology Fee Committee
Project Description: The Student Technology Fee Committee (STFC) is a student-managed entity established under Washington State Legislature RCW 28B.15.051. The STFC’s core goal is to manage the Student Technology Fee, taken in through UW students’ tuition statements, and return it to the student population in the form of technological resources, accessibility, and impact. The STFC does this through an Executive Team of elected and hired student employees, a broader committee of appointment students, Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) and Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) representatives, and Ex-Officios from UW departments. My continuous internal auditing has revealed a wide range of unoptimized and problematic processes, procedures, and policies that ranges from inefficient to downright detrimental to the STFC’s core goal of providing impact to students. My leadership project centers around the expansion of the STFC Executive Team and reassessment and changes to STFC policies and bylaws to strengthen the STFC’s ability to document projects and their impacts, support more projects more comprehensively, increase outreach and lower the bar for technology funding accessibility, and strong procedures to carry across future committees and student leaders.
What have you learned throughout your leadership project?
I initially approached the project thinking that leadership was all about creating impact and making a difference. However, working closely with other student leaders and staff in the ASUW, GPSS, Husky Union Building (HUB), and the Office of Student Life, I came to realize that leadership is much more heterogeneous than just a one-way value of outputting impact, it’s about both having fun as a leader and also cascading that joy onto other to push through difficult moments together. The 2021-22 school year in particular has been especially taxing on student entities, with a high level of politics, misconduct filings, and even Board-leveled resignations within the student governments. I found it beyond challenging to steer the STFC amid politics and our currently unoptimized procedures and policies while also increasing the amount of support the STFC gives to proposals authors and ongoing projects. The rest of the STFC has stayed with me throughout long meetings well into the night, handled stressful matters and communications, and supported me with their understanding and empathy. It was through moments like these that truly made me realize that leadership is not just about pumping out impact, but also uplifting those around you to push the efforts & have fun together!
What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?
Follow your core principles, do what you want to do, and let the experience and learning come. If I were to go back and write my application again, half of it will likely be different! Instead of trying to present a golden plan in the initial application, I think it’s almost more important to present a general goalpost and an attitude that’s open to learning and understanding along the way. Surprises can be good or bad, but I believe that the most important action is to continuously assess how they’ve shaped your perspectives and allowed you to grow along the way!