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Senate has yet to fill Presidential position

May 6, 2010

UW-River Falls students voted in the 2010 Student Senate elections on April 22-23 allowing 13 new student senators to be seated, but the final results left the new president unannounced.

Nikki Shonoiki lost the vote to Tyler Latz with a final tally of 320-229 in the April elections.

However, before the polls closed on the 23rd, Latz officially removed himself from the presidential race, leaving Shonoiki the president-elect by default.

According to former Student Senate President Josh Brock, after the ethics complaint against Shonoiki was voted upon, it went to mediation, which failed, then went to arbitration where it was decided to redo the presidential election. Brock said the new elections chair will be appointed Tuesday, May 4, and that representative will then set the official election date for sometime during finals week.

Despite the position of president remaining unfilled, the other positions have been filled and the new representatives were seated at the senate meeting April 27. 

The position of vice president has been filled by Jason Keck, a sophomore crop and soil science major. Keck, who grew up on a crop and hog farm, said his interests include his family’s farm, being outdoors, the UWRF crop judging team, the crop and soil club and Alpha Gamma Rho.

“I ran for Student Senate because I had heard about some issues that they were dealing with and thought that I would like to be involved in how the student body isrepresented,” Keck said.

Keck said that he hopes to help Student Senate with a common sense approach to solving problems and help UWRF be successful in the future.

“Some main issues I see facing UWRF are with student organization budgets and communication about Student Senate to the student body,” Keck said.

He also said one idea he had was about an annual column or article in the Student Voice about the goings-on of Student Senate or a Facebook group for Senate to connect with students. Keck said he also hopes to somehow bring about campus-wide postings of weekly updates about each Senate meeting. Keck said he encourages students to vote in the special election for Student Senate president.

Jordan Harshman has taken the position of the College of Education and Professional Studies (CEPS) Representative for next year and is currently serving as the interim president of Student Senate. He previously held a position with Student Senate as an at-large representative, and is a senior history education major who is also involved with the College Republicans.

As interim president, Harshman said his role is to make sure Student Senate continues to function, without “stepping on the toes” of the new administration.

“I will make sure we can get the appointments process, in particular, going, but I will make no appointments myself,” Harshman said.

Harshman said that as the CEPS representative, he will continue to do what he previously did as an at-large representative, such as his involvement with the Allocable Fees Appropriation Board (AFAB). He said one problem he sees facing UWRF is the organization and fairness of AFAB policy.
“I think we had a perfectly fair policy last year with a perfectly fair process,” Harshman said. “The organization of the process was, however, a bit lacking, so that’s one thing I’d really like to focus on.”

He said he also hopes to get word out about who and what AFAB is and does, as it seemed no one knew about them until something very controversial was brought about. Harshman said he’d like to give students the option to come to the meetings to get their opinions out.

One of the at-large representatives is Jayne Dalton, a sophomore who is double majoring in meat and animal science and political science. She’s also involved in the Block and Bridle club, Phi Mu and Alpha Zeta. Dalton served as the Greek Representative for Student Senate over this spring semester. She said her role is that of a regular senator with voting rights, the responsibility of communicating with students and helping with various committees within the Senate.

“We’re kicking next year into gear right now, and we’ll be applying for appointments to directorships, and hopefully some of us will get them to be able to take on further responsibilities,” Dalton said.

Dalton said she hopes to look at re-evaluating the teacher evaluation forms. She said she feels that having only five to eight questions is a bit limited.

“Granted, you can’t have an open question type format,” Dalton said. “But at the same time, I think there should be a few more questions asked, both for better verification and to help students feel like they’re voicing [their opinion] a little bit more.”

Parking and housing are two big problems Dalton says she hopes Student Senate works on next year. She said the enrollment goals are great, but when there are not facilities to accommodate the projected increase, it becomes a problem. She said that putting freshman in the Best Western earlier this year was ridiculous.

As for parking, Dalton said UWRF is a big commuter school. With the commuters coming in, and even students who live in apartments in River Falls driving to campus in the inclement weather, she said she thinks the campus needs to focus on parking accommodations. Dalton said she found the statistic about enrollment increasing to 8,000 students published in the Student Voice a couple of weeks ago startling.

“Even if we updated the accommodations to fit the roughly 6,000 students we have now, we’ll be right back at square one where we are now,” Dalton said. “We need to start building ahead of the curve.”

According to Harshman, the election for Student Senate President will be held no sooner than May 10, but no later than May 13 so that the polls may be open for two days.

The candidates to appear on the ballot are Nikki Shonoiki and Lee Monson.
Shonoiki is a senior majoring in intercultural communications. She has been involved in Hall Council and the Statewide Student Association, as well as many other student organizations on the UWRF campus.

Shonoiki previously served on Student Senate for two years. She said she decided to run for Student Senate President because she realized a lot can be done, while not much was being done. Shonoiki said she felt that Student Senate President was a good position for her to run for.

“The system isn’t working for the students, and I think that I can change that system for a better campus and a more student-centered way of life,” Shonoiki said.

If elected, Shonoiki said she plans to not run Student Senate the way it has been run in the past.

“I plan on working directly with the student body, not against the student body,” she said. “I am more than willing to go out and talk to students in class, on their way to class and do whatever it takes to get their opinion.”

Shonoiki said it’s really important that Senate reach out to the students rather than have the students hounding Senate just to get in to a conversation about what they need.

“It’s our job to go out to them and make sure that conversation is happening,” Shonoiki said.

She said she wants a Student Senate that’s going to work toward something. Shonoiki said that as Student Senate President, it would be important to her to help shape the way Student Senate conducts their business, which will always and forever be passionate about helping students on campus.

She said some of the main problems she sees facing UWRF is the Cascade Project, which is a project run by the city of River Falls dealing with the installation of roundabouts, the removal of some on-street parking and the renovation of the parking lots near North Hall. Student input was sought out, but not very effectively. Shonoiki said she thinks the students should be involved in the entire process. Campus housing is another issue Shonoiki hopes to face.

“I think it’s important for us, as Student Senate, to be the mediation between students and administration, which means looking at both sides and coming to a compromise,” Shonoiki said.

Shonoiki said that even if she is not elected as Student Senate President, she will never stop being a part of student leadership on campus.

The other candidate, Lee Monson, is a sophomore majoring in political science. Monson was previously the treasurer of the College Democrats, served with AFAB and for a year, he served as the co-chair for the Gay-Straight Alliance.

He said he is running for Student Senate President because he felt that rather than complaining about other candidates, that he should take the healthy approach and try to make a difference himself. Monson said he talked to students and found that three issues repeatedly came up.

The first was housing. The current requirement is that students live on campus for their first two years at UWRF.

“When even our extended housing is overflowing into a hotel, something needs to be done,” Monson said.

He said his proposal is to remove the sophomore housing requirement, giving more students the opportunity to live off-campus, thus relieving a burden on the school and allowing for a more comfortable living situation on campus.

The second issue was parking. Monson said he is currently talking with city councilman Bob Hughes, who is trying to put forth an alternative to the proposed roundabouts currently being looked at for Cascade, which would take away a lot of parking spaces. Part of the current plan is putting a parking lot by Grimm Hall.

“I believe there’s no reason why we can’t have both the street parking and the parking lot,” Monson said.

The final issue was that of the student organization budgets. Monson said resolving this issue has to do with reforming AFAB’s policies to make them more black and white, less ambiguous and easier to interpret. Another aspect of the issue is Falcon Programs, said Monson.
“Out of the $350,000 we had to allocate, they ended up being allocated about $160,000,” Monson said. “They’re a wonderful program and they do a lot for this campus. However, I don’t believe they should be qualified as a student organization.”

Monson said he would propose that Falcon Programs be moved under Student Life, which would include about a $25 segregated fee increase, but there would be a lot more money available for student organizations. Monson said that if elected, he would see his role as an intermediary to faculty as well as other senators.

He said he doesn’t feel it is his role to put forth anything that was not first brought to his attention by students.

“I will certainly work with people on issues that are pointed out to me,” Monson said.

The other student senate members are as follows: CAFES representative- Derrek Johnson, CAS representative- Ryan Debner, CBE representative- Andrew Jirele, and at-large representatives- Tyler Latz, Peter Van Dyk, Samuel Tauchen, Russel Sawyer, Tyler Halverson and Patrick Okan.

The non-traditional representative is Ali Haifawi.