Student Senates state-wide discuss unifying constitution
October 25, 2012
On Oct. 6, 2012, representatives from 17 of the 26 University of Wisconsin System Schools met in Eau Claire to discuss a unifying constitution.
This constitution has been stuck in limbo since 2007, mainly because of an amendment that would have given Student Senates across the state the ability to oversee the work of United Council (UC), a lobbying organization for the UW System Schools.
Although the oversight amendment was struck down, a new amendment gives student representatives from Senates across the state the ability to endorse or reject proposals that UC brings to the UW Board of Regents.
In attendance at this meeting were Student Senate President Bobbi O’Brien and Vice President Matthew Hobbs. Both voted in favor of the new constitution, which gives student representatives more say in matters regarding students.
“The constitution is more to legitimize student representatives and to say to the Board of Regents, ‘hey, we are a serious group,’” said O’Brien.
Student Representatives for Student Senate and UC have been in contention with each other at UW-River Falls since last year, when former Senate President Tyler Halverson issued an executive order banning the organization from campus.
“What I found odd is that [Halverson] supported many of our campaigns, but was not in favor of a United Council body,” said UC Communications Director Matt Guidry.
The executive order issued by last year’s president is still in effect today, and the sentiment of association with UC is still somewhat of a difficult sell for the Student Senate.
“Their leadership is elected by a much smaller percentage of students,” said O’Brien. “The work they do is somewhat the same as ours.”
Twenty UW schools are members of UC, a voluntary organization. However, UWRF is not a member of the organization, in part because of the complaints of their election procedure and also because of the fees associated with the organization.
Each student in member schools pays an additional $2 every year for the school to be a UC member. According to UC Student President Geoff Murray, that fee can be refunded to any student not interested in being a part of the organization.
“We don’t want to cram membership down anyone’s throats,” said Murray. “We just want to provide students with as much information as possible.”
Murray plans to make outreach to both UC member schools and non-UC member schools a priority during his term as president. He is planning on making stops across the UW System within the next few months and is working with O’Brien to open talks between the organizations.
“I guess we’re really just working towards the same goal,” said Murray. O’Brien shares that sentiment, “I don’t think they’re a bad organization by any means, UC is just taking away from the purpose which we were elected to serve.”