Senate discusses United Council, student committees
February 21, 2008
Tuesday’s Student Senate meeting was launched with a presentation by United Council of UW Students Executive Director Nicole Juan and Multicultural Issues director Shaltreese McCoy. United Council is a primarily student-run organization designed to lobby the Wisconsin Legislature. United Council focuses on issues such as tuition, financial aid, and multicultural/campus climate issues, and also provides training regarding campus (e.g. Senate operations and voter registration) procedure. UW-River Falls opted out of United Council two years ago due to a Student Senate decision that the expense of membership (approx. $20,000/year) was in excess of the return on UWRF student investment. A vote concerning UW-River Falls renewed participation in United Council is slated for next spring semester.
Multicultural Issues and Womens Initiatives co-director Nikki Shonoiki spoke to United Council’s credit (having worked with them).
“They definitely do help all the campuses they work with, including [UW-River Falls],” she said. “They help out all the time … all you need to do is ask.”
United Council will be conducting a conference dubbed “Building Unity” from April 11 until April 13 in Madison. This conference is designed to gather student concerns regarding access (focusing on minority groups as defined by race, gender and sexual orientation) to higher education.
The Senate meeting then moved on to Shared Governance Director, Terry Halverson. Senator Halverson’s report stressed the need for more student involvement in Senate committees, including one opening on the Shared Governance Committee, and multiple openings in each of the Legislative Affairs, Finance and Diversity Issues and Women’s Initiatives Committees. Interested students can apply for committees at sa.uwrf.edu/student-senate and are encouraged to contact Halverson.
Student Affairs and Academic Services director, Jennifer Biss, reported that her committee was looking into conducting a student survey and was “looking into a student readership program” designed to make available major Wisconsin newspapers to UWRF students. Also of concern to the committee were issues regarding students’ rights. Specifically concerning the committee are Public Safety’s actions, as well as the smoking policy on campus.
Legislative Affairs director Craig Witte was very pleased with Monday’s Great Debate as well as the turnout for the Wisconsin primary held on Tuesday. He continued his report by saying that he and three other Senators will head for Madison to lobby the State Legislature.
“I think the polling location was really good,” Witte said.
However, he did express concerns about the lack of signs letting students know where to vote.
Finance director Jason Meier noted that the finance committee was still looking into options for the Senate reserve account. He concluded his report with comments regarding a decision to provide CNN to the dorms.
Shonoiki said that applications to participate in the “Building Unity” conference are due on Friday, Feb. 22. Co-director Laura Adrian spoke of the upcoming ‘Take Back the Night’ event coming up the week after spring break. Planned events include: a live band, keynote speaker, and an open-mic session “where students will be free to share their experiences and thoughts concerning violence towards women and sexual assault.” No specific date for this event is set.
Vice president Sara Dieck thanked everyone for the work they did in the Primary Election process.
President Derek Brandt followed up on last week’s business of the Senate election process, commenting that, “for this election…we will be leaving it in its current form, electronic polling online.” He also commented on the election committee’s concern with proper campaigning processes and locations.
Leadership and Programming Board chair Mike Defenbaugh expressed concern about the Senate Campaigning and election process by saying the committee has “mixed feelings about [election rules].”
A motion to approve J-term stipends for Brandt and Witte was passed unanimously. Two more motions concerning stipends and senate business cards were introduced.
Student Senate meetings are held every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in the Willow River Room of the UC. Students are encouraged to attend.