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Senate approves student fee increase for HHP, Ramer Field

March 6, 2008

Student Senate met Tuesday to decide whether to approve student fee increases to fund renovation of both Karges Hall and Ramer Field.

The meeting opened with guest speakers Shannon Zweifel and Connor Graves presenting a strong case for the renovation of Ramer Field.  “Ramer Field has not been touched since 1967,” said Zwiefel. Included in the presentation was a 2006 quote from WIAC Comissioner Dr. Gary Karner: “Of the eight teams playing football in the WIAC, [UWRF] facilities rank 12th”.

Renovations planned include updating the field from grass to artificial turf, replacing the lighting system and renovating the track and updating the stands.

“The beauty of the turf is the [low maintenance costs],” UW-River Falls student Steve Tennies said. “[UWRF] will see a significant decrease [in operating costs].”

“[Currently] only football and track are allowed to use [Ramer Field] due to poor field conditions,” Facilities and Fees board chair Krista Hasselquist noted.  “The field isn’t maintained well enough to allow club sports [to use it].”  Senate president Derek Brandt raised a point of opposition to fee increases.

“I just wanted to point out that [UWRF] has the lowest family income of any four-year institution in the UW System,” he said. “[The time spent] now can determine the next 20 years.” Student fees associated with the Ramer Field Renovation will increase $4 per student next year.  Approximately 4,000 students on UWRF campus are involved in intramural sports.  The motion to approve funding for Ramer Field passed 19-2.  Ramer Field is scheduled to be completed around 2012.

“There are a lot of students who think that there are more important things to take care of on this campus, like updating residence halls, classrooms, the parking situation… I think those things should be a priority,” Senate Finance Director Jason Meier said.

Sen. Matt Dale expressed his concerns regarding the affordability of UWRF.

“Since the UC was just completed, we should hold off for a few years,” he said.

Hasselquist argued in favor of the funding.

“[Karges floor] tile is cracked… the heaters don’t work [properly], it’s pretty bad.  We don’t have quality facilities to recruit the quality of athletes that are in Wisconsin.”

Parliamentarian/Ethics chair Nathan McNaughton proposed the idea of having a direct vote (referendum) from UWRF students due to the amount of money that would be eventually spent by the students.

“I don’t condone the use of a referendum, we are the legislative body of the students,” Brandt said. “Having said that, it is up to [Student Senate] [whether to hold a referendum].”

Vice Chancellor Kristen Hendrickson stressed the importance of time.

“This needs to get wrapped up now,” she said. “Students would [only] be funding the recreation portion of [Karges renovations].”

Tennies argued against the referendum, noting that “[UWRF Students] had their chance to come to the meeting tonight and voice their opinion.”

After much debate, the Senate decided to look into gathering student opinions during a student survey, which will be taken the week after spring break. The motion to approve funding for the new HHP building passed 16-3-1.  The project is scheduled to be completed by 2012.

Funding was also approved to send 40 students to the United Council Building Unity conference, where UWRF students will receive diversity training.

“[These conferences] are incredibly useful and valuable to [UWRF] as a whole,” Sen. Tom Friant said.

Other funding was also approved to send three senators to “Legislative Days,” where Student Senators will speak with state legislators regarding issues of concern to UWRF students, specifically a   motion to speak to the Legislators about WHEG (Wisconsin Higher Education Grants). The Senate also approved fee increases to keep up with inflation.

Motions were passed to ammend the Student Senate constitution and the Senate election rules.

Motions introduced included the approval for Senate election funding, funding for “Take Back the Night” and a motion concerning Sudent Senate compliance with the Wisconsin Open Meeting Law.  Information was also distributed concerning the addition of a military leadership minor to available programs at UWRF.

These issues will be voted on during the next Student Senate meeting at 7 p.m.,  March 11, in the Willow River Room of the UC. UWRF students are encouraged to attend.