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Student Senate discusses small staff, upcoming elections

February 14, 2008

The majority of the Student Senate meeting was spent discussing both the Senate election process and many of the Senate committees being short-staffed. The primary point of discussion regarding the Senate elections was how to conduct the polling process, with on-line returns in the last two years declining from around 300 votes to just over 100 votes, the concern is that the Student Senate isn’t an accurate reflection of the student body as it is intended to be.

The various polling methods being considered are: continuing the on-line system as is or changing to a central polling location (possibly in the UC) with either paper ballots or a bank of computers not connected to the Web whereby [the voter], would log on using your ‘w’ number and submit your vote electronically.  The center of the paper vs. electronic debate was aimed at the balance between voter turnout and the “green” (environmentally conscious) nature of the voting process.

The Senate wants students opinion. Interested individuals are encouraged to e-mail president derek.brandt@uwrf.edu to voice your position. Also, students also volunteer to be on the election committee, applications are due by noon Feb. 22.

Among the Senate committees still needing positions filled are: the Shared Governance committee, the Student Affairs committee, the Diversity Issues and Women’s initiatives committee, and the Senate Election committee. If you would like to participate as a member of any of these committees you can get more information on the Senate Web site or at the next meeting.

Further student involvement is needed by the Diversity Issues and Womens Initiatives Committee.  Two events are currently in the works, for the Women’s History Month in March. They are looking for help with putting together a “Take Back the Night” event and bringing in a guest speaker.

Vice Chancellor of Admissions and Finance Kristen Hendrickson, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Nanette Jordahl, and Provost Connie Foster were guest presenters at Tuesday’s senate meeting, they detailed the “Campus Connections for Success Program” and it’s accomplishments made since it’s inception.  This program that adds $72 per full-time student to fees charged by the University.

Among the services provided (by student request) are: the extension of library hours an extra 15 hours per week , providing a 24-hour computer lab in South Hall, and the centralization of student support facilities.  These facilities include: the Testing and Tutor center, English as as Second Language center, Disability Services and the Falcon Grants program.

Falcon Grants is designed to provide grant money to students for projects and travel expenses incurred related to academic studies.  Among the factors slowing progress towards the centralization of the Testing and Tutor center is the need to find appropriate space on campus. Spaces in Hagestad Hall and Rodli Commons are being considered.

Provost Connie Foster concluded the presentation by laying out the UW System’s framework for improving educational excellence and applicability to student needs. The program entitled Advantage Wisconsin encompasses student preparedness, a dual transcript system and better course transferability between UW schools.

Among notable Senate director reports was that of Finance Director, Jason Meier.  He brought up the fact that Student Senate budget reserves are “Quite sizable” and then asked for input as to how these funds should be directed, as well as how to go about getting the student body’s input. He proposed that since the funds come from student fees, that students have a right to say how they should be used.

Five Motions were passed unanimously at Tuesday’s Senate meeting. The first was to allocate funds to pay stipends to Senate members who had worked during J-Term. Second on the list was a motion to investigate expanding news programming in on the campus cable television networks due to greater student interest during the election process. The third motion appointed Tony Casci to the Athlete Representative senate position. Fourth on the list appointed students to senate committees. The Fifth, brought up as an addendum to the Agenda, was to appoint members to the Senate election committee.

Student Senate’s next meeting will be on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Willow River Room of the University Center.