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Executive order bans United Council group

February 24, 2012

Student Senate President Tyler Halverson recently signed an executive order banning the statewide student association United Council from student government office spaces.

United Council was established in 1960 as a statewide advocacy and organizing notfor- profit organization, according to the organization’s website. Out of the 26 UW System campuses, 21 campuses are members. Along with UW-River Falls, UWRock County, UW-Whitewater, UW-Stout and UW-Fox Valley are not members of United Council.

Statement found in the Jan. 24 Senate minutes provide documentation of the executive order. Halverson explained why the executive order was necessary.

“I issued this order because the current United Council does not represent River Falls. They made this clear when they strongly supported an initiative in the Board of Regents that changed how they were able to charge their fees,” Halverson wrote in an email. “I was on the committee that formulated the draft of this new policy, and what I can say is parties from United Council were present at every meeting or phone conference to lobby the board to make the policy friendly to them.”

The policy Halverson is referring to is a motion passed by the Board of Regents that hinders the access to mandatory refenduable fees. United Council hopes to gain membership from all of the UW campuses to strengthen the council by combining various cultures and perspectives that each campus could provide.

“We foster a place where students from across the state can come together to unite under a few basic issues of maintaining access and affordability to the UW-System for all students. We would bring knowledge and expertise on organizing students, and UW-River Falls would bring good perspective to the table,” said United Council Communications Director Matt Guidry.

There have been serveral times when United Council has attempted to gain membership from UWRF.

“In the past when this has been desired, members of our student government have been told preposterous things such as ‘the system will close UWRF if they don’t have the UC to lobby on their behalf.’ I do not want such influence around our office space. For that reason, I consulted with VP Strand on this order and per the rules of the Senate, the order was issued,” said Halverson.

In order for campuses to join United Council, they must join by a campus referendum. A total of four referendums were held from 2006-09 and United Council membership was denied each time.

“United Council will always reach out to students, but we will respect the executive order and not use any student government office space, nor actively engage in collaboration or consultation with any student government sub-committees,” wrote Guidry in an email. “United Council has organizers across Wisconsin working with students from many campuses and we will continue to work with all students that wish to work with us, including students at UW-River Falls.”

More information about United Council can be found at http://unitedcouncil.net/.