Abby Wendt elected 2017-2018 UWRF student body president
On Tuesday, May 2, former Allocable Fee Appropriation Board (AFAB) Chair Abby Wendt was sworn in as the new student body president.
With the election having ended on Friday, April 28, Wendt’s reaction to hearing that she was elected was not uncommon when experiencing a large achievement.
“I was very excited, because now I realize I will actually be able to impact the campus more on a relationship side than the financial side that I’m used to,” said Wendt. “So I’m definitely very happy.”
Wendt, who is currently a junior, has been involved with Student Government Association (SGA) since her freshman year. Starting as a first-year senator, she then became the AFAB chair, a position which she has held for the last two years. She said that she believes that her previous AFAB role will contribute to her new position because she has experience working with student organizations and knows the ins and outs of the budget process.
Wendt said that the first thing she plans to work on while student body president is to establish a student health week that focuses on mental health. To achieve this, she said that she wants to work with Student Health and Counseling Services, Student Involvement and any student organizations that wish to be involved. The goal, Wendt said, is to start a conversation to get rid of the stigma around mental health and get students the help they need.
“I know a lot of students who suffer from depression and anxiety, and I know people close to me too who suffer from it,” said Wendt. “So this has become an issue close to my heart.”
Wendt said that although she had come into the election process with a set of initiatives, her focus has changed through talking with students. One issue that came to her attention when talking with the UWRF Collegiate 4-H organization was the need for an on-campus food pantry for students.
“I think it’s a great idea, because a lot of students don’t have a meal plan and it would be nice for them to have a place on campus that they can go to and get free food,” said Wendt.
After learning that this may not be feasible, however, Wendt said that one of her focuses for next year will be to bring awareness to the fact that there is already a food pantry in River Falls, the River Falls Community Food Pantry, and maybe even find a way to transport students to the food pantry.
Another issue that Wendt will be focusing on is rebranding the back trail that goes through campus, known to many students as the “Rape Trail.” Through the It’s On Us campaign, she said, she hopes to take away the damaging, unofficial name for the trail.
In order to keep an open line of communication between the SGA and the student body, Wendt said that she plans on having a table in Heritage Hall in the University Center where students can meet with student senators, learn more about the SGA and talk about issues that are important to them. To start out, Wendt said, she plans on tabling twice a week.
“A lot of people don’t know what Senate is, and maybe putting a friendly face to it would help a lot with getting our name out there and having the students know that we’re actually there for them,” said Wendt.
Lastly, Wendt said that she plans on making the SGA more productive. In the past, said Wendt, the SGA has run into problems where members work on their own to create a motion that seems to come out of left field that leads to unnecessary confusion and fighting during Senate meetings. To fix this, Wendt said that she wants there to be more communication within the SGA and for student senators to work together to make and pass motions.
“We don’t pick our own family, and we don’t pick our Senate. And that’s what we are, we’re a family,” said Wendt. “We have to work together. Otherwise there’s no way that we can fully represent the students. It’s not fair to them if we’re arguing during a Senate meeting and not getting anything done.”
Above all else, Wendt said that she wants to let students know that her focus is on them.
“It’s focusing on the students and what they want, because they live here on campus, they learn here and they’re living out their passions,” said Wendt. “And I want to grow that and make it better for them.”