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Modernization act streamlines Senate

February 14, 2014

Student Senate passed its Student Shared Governance Modernization Act (SSGMA) last week after going through it with a fine-tooth comb for four weeks.

The SSGMA streamlines Senate’s structure and allows students to get involved more easily, which Senate Vice President Tony Sumnicht said should help Senate assign more committee seats.

“There are about 70 student positions still available,” Sumnicht said. “Senate has been struggling to fill committees.”

Tony Sumnicht
Student Senate Vice President Tony Sumnicht worked with Non-Traditional Representative Matthew Hobbs to create the Student shared Governance Modernization Act, which was passed Feb. 4. (Desi Danforth/Student Voice)

Streamlining student government will also open up time for Senate to look at issues that it did not have the time or resources for before.

“The Student Shared Governance Modernization Act allows Senate to refocus on areas that it didn’t focus on before,” Sumnicht said.

These areas include academics and reaching out to the city of River Falls in hopes of forging a relationship with community members.

One aspect of Senate that has been streamlined is the organization of committees. Some committees have been dissolved or reassembled into new committees, including an academic council, student affairs, external relations and six non-allocable fee committees.

Also changing within the structure of Senate is a number of representative seats. The athletic and Greek representative positions will be eliminated due to the fact that involvement in those activities is voluntary. In place of those positions, new representative positions will be created.

Due to the changing demographics of the UW-River Falls campus, a graduate representative and an international representative will be added.

“International students are the best ones to advocate for international students,” Sumnicht said.

Also, a Student Judiciary will be created, which is separate from Senate and will consist of five associate justices and one chief justice.

According to a YouTube video created by Senate and available on Senate’s OrgSync page, the Student Judiciary will hold elected student government officials responsible for their duties.

Another change made in the SSGMA is the Student Senate Executive Committee, which now covers every area that students could be about.

“The Student Senate Executive Committee now represents the entire student body; it’s not just representing Student Senate,” Sumnicht said.

The members of the Executive Committee will include people not involved in Senate already, including representation from RHA, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, Recreational Sports and Facilities, University Center Programming and Operations Board, Student Services Boards and Campus Improvements and Safety Board.

The members from Senate that will be included on the Executive Committee will be president, vice president, secretary, AFAB chair, chair of Academic Council and chair of External Relations.

The SSGMA will be up for a referendum vote until Friday, Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. UWRF students must approve the SSGMA because one of the documents in the SSGMA is the Constitution, which always has to be approved by students.

AFAB Chair Bobbi O’Brien said the SSGMA will allow more input from students not involved in Senate.

“It spreads out the shared governance process. There are a lot more checks and balances,” O’Brien said. It gives a more overall view of the student view because it brings a lot more student-led committees into the process.”