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Senate voices concerns, student issues

September 28, 2006

The UW-River Falls Student Senate plays a major role on campus – one that is often overlooked by students who aren’t clear of its weight in University decisions.

“Very basically, Student Senate is the voice of the students on campus,” Senate President Joe Eggers said. “Unlike student councils in high school, Senate has an active voice in the policy decision making that goes on on campus.”

Wisconsin is one of the few states that allows students statutory rights to have a voice in decision making, Eggers said.

Senate is also responsible for allocating student fees through the Leadership Development and Programming Board, and Facilities and Fees Board.

“We are the organization that determines how student fees are going to be allocated,” Senate Vice President Bethany Barnett said. “We determine if there will be an increase in those fees.”

Students are the consumers on campus, Barnett said, so they should offer input on how things are done.

A slow start this semester can be attributed to the very new senators, Eggers said, including himself. The Senate only has four returning senators from one year ago.

“The last few meetings have been learning experiences for the new Senate,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of senators are new this year and don’t have a firm grasp of everything they are doing.”

A training session will be held this weekend, and Eggers said he believes it will help the group move forward in the coming weeks.

Senators will also be assigned to certain committees around campus, and once the ball starts rolling, each will feel a lot more comfortable with making motions and speaking during meetings.

“It’s virtually impossible to have Senate off and going any year,” Eggers said. “It is especially difficult with a new Senate. As long as I have been on Senate, the first month or so is especially slow.”

No goals are set for the semester, but a few projects being looked at are the elections in November, lights on the back path on campus and the upcoming biennial budget.

As for Eggers, he said there are a lot of intangible goals for Senate.

“I would like to see the development of new leaders on campus and on Senate,” he said. “I would like to leave Senate with stable leadership.”

He also wants to keep the association strong by keeping remaining senators throughout the entire year.

“I think we have a stronger voice when we have familiar people,” Eggers said.

He said he sends an invitation to administration to come to Senate with any ideas they have for the campus because senators respect and desire the input from both staff and students in their decision-making.

Diversity Representative Ashley Olson said she works with the diversity student organizations on campus, making all students more aware of the diverse backgrounds everyone comes from and learning more from every experience.

“I feel that overall everyone’s college experience can be enhanced by learning about and experiencing other cultures,” Olson said.

Senator Dan Scott said Senate is a great way for students to get involved on campus.

“Senate is a place to get your voice heard versus other organizations,” he said.

As Student Affairs and Academic Services Director representative, Scott said he uses his RA position on a first-year floor to hear the concerns of the students and relay everything to Senate.

“My position is to get students satisfied with what is going on for them,” Scott said. “I want it to be the best it can be for the students.”

Students at UW-RF have a say in everything that happens on campus, he said.

“If they don’t like something, then there is probably a committee behind it, and they could go and talk to that committee,” Scott said. “They can even become a part of it if they choose.”