Faculty, Student Senate lack cooperation
October 17, 2013
The Faculty Senate and Student Senate’s successful working relationship rests within student involvement.
Both committees are expected to work together to empower students to advance in their education.
“Each represents their respective constituency and are tasked with working with administration to make informed decisions regarding campus,” said Student Senate President Sam Tauchen.
Students, faculty and staff work together on committees to make decisions and look at things that affect the campus as a whole, according to the University Committee Academic Policy. They look at issues that do not affect just students or just faculty and staff, but in areas where they are both present.
Both Senates have a common goal.
“Our general goal is a shared role with administration and students in governing students,” said Faculty Senate Secretary John Heppen.
The Faculty Senate’s responsibilities include academic policies, faculty affairs and general welfare of the University. It works closely with UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen and on rare occasion, the Student Senate.
The Faculty Senate has formal meetings scheduled every other Wednesday in the University Center (UC).
“The Student Senate President sometimes shows up,” Heppen said.
Tauchen feels that attending Faculty Senate meetings allows the Student Senate to stay up-to-date with issues facing the campus from a faculty perspective.
“There has been student representation at all the meetings,” he added.
The Student Senate has similar responsibilities to the Faculty Senate, including administrative policies and advocating for problems affecting students. It is able to recommend, examine and promote proposals or changes to major and minor academic programs.
The Student Senate is the voice of UWRF’s student body, but it must go through the Chancellor and Faculty Senate for approval on any implementations requiring action.
The Student Senate also has open meetings. It meets every Tuesday during the academic year in the UC.
“No one from Faculty Senate attends Student Senate meetings,” said Student Senate Advisor Paul Shepherd. “There is not much of a formalized relationship there.”
The Senates are supposed to work together to empower students to advance in their education, according to the University Committees description found on the UWRF website.
Faculty Senate Chair David Rainville pointed out in a recent interview how several student positions on Faculty Senate committees are left vacant. He acknowledged the lack of communication between the Senates, but insisted the resolution to the issue was for students to attend their meetings.
Tauchen believes there should be more student involvement on all committees, especially the Shared Governance committee.
“We both need to use our respective legislative bodies to gather information from our constituency and use that information to collaborate our efforts,” Tauchen said.
Both constituencies can benefit from collaboration.
“We both can improve communication, and I look forward to developing a greater working relationship with Faculty Senate,” Tauchen said. “The first step of fostering a greater working relationship with students, faculty and staff starts at filling the more than 120 student committee seats that are available.”