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Faculty Senate still needs to fill 39 student seats

October 14, 2010

Despite the necessity that the positions hold, there are vacancies in both Student and Faculty Senate committees, said Student Senate President Lee Monson.

There where three Student Senate positions available until Oct. 5.

There are 41 seats on all of the committee’s of Faculty Senate, said Executive Committee Vice Chair Dawn Hukai.

According to the Sept. 28 Student Senate minutes, there have been two positions filled on Faculty Senate.

Hukai said the faculty do not actively seek out students, instead they receive them from Student Senate.

“We are trying not to be parent-like figures. Otherwise it ceases to be a Student Senate and that is not the intent of what Student Senate should be,” Hukai said.

Students sent from Student Senate to Faculty Senate is a process conducted by the Shared Governance Committee. Individuals apply to the committee, the application is approved by the committee. Following the approval, the application is directed to Student Senate, Monson said.

Shared governance–adopted in 1974–is unique to the UW System: powers are distributed between student, faculty and administration. Student Senate advisor and Director of Student Life Paul Shepherd said UW River Falls is obligated to get students involved in the decision making process.

“Having students involved is critical to help determine what we are doing is good,” Sheperd said.

In years past, student senators were required to sit on two faculty committees. That requirement was abolished last year, said Patrick Okan, who formerly served on both Student and Faculty Senate.

This requirement was removed because it proved to be too hard to enforce. As a semester would progress, student commitment to the given committee would diminish, according to Okan.

Faculty committees, which include an Athletics Committee and Diversity and Inclusivity Committee, are eager to have students actively involved in faculty senate according to Hukai.

“The students come to us sharing a student’s perspective,” Hukai said.

She said that their involvement is an important factor for faculty committees. Some of the students impact students almost directly, for example decisions concerning suspension and probation.

Opinions expressed on faculty committees are encouraged and considered.

“You do put some work into it, but it does have a strong impact,”  Okan said.

“There is a great deal of time commitment to be able to serve at an even greater capacity,” Jirele said.

Time commitment can be an issue when serving on Faculty Senate, but, it depends on the committee that is being served upon. Hukai said the current job market has also translated onto certain demands on a students availability.

“Involvement on Student and Faculty Senate also correlates with how strong the underlying Student Senate is,” Hukai said.

With elections ever year, Student Senate positions change, and the Student Senate reinvents itself.

“This year, Student Senate wants to improve student involvement,” Shepherd said.

Student Senate operates in a different manner in comparison to other groups, meetings are held in parliamentary procedure. There are many polices that govern the way the Student Senate operates; for newcomers, the practices may seem odd, Shepherd said.

The Student Senate at UW-Stout has had great success in recruiting students by publicizing. They brought attention to themselves by participating on campus wide activities and visiting with particular majors that were less represented in the senate body, said Director of Senate Communications at Stout Melissa Krueger.

Okan said that students should get more involved on Student Senate because, at present, it is predominately occupied by like minded people.

“Diverse ideas is not something that we’ve seen a lot of,” Okan said.

Monson said that he sincerely hopes people will care more about Student Senate as it is an opportunity for student voices to be heard.

“Your government can’t give an output, if you don’t give an input,” he said.

Updated Monday, October 18, 2010 2:15 p.m.