Student Senate elects new leaders
April 22, 2015
The UW-River Falls Student Senate is the voice of the student body, speaking to the administration and making decisions that effect student’s education while helping students have the best experience at UWRF as possible.
Twice a year Senate holds elections and on Friday, April 17, the voting for Senate elections closed. Those who don't look at their school email may have missed the election. Signage for the candidates running for office and the election itself was not obvious to all students.
When asked who is running, what the duties are and issues Senate deals with, several students didn't know. This is an ongoing problem for not just our campus but the issue is common on most campuses. Anthony Sumnicht, the current Senate president, feels the challenge going forward for Senate will be to bridge the gap between the student body and those in the Senate who voice their concerns.
The results of the election for officers in the Senate are: Christopher Morgan, president; Sarah DeGroote, vice president; Mathea Olson, on-campus senator; Harlan Tran, international senator; Joseph Schmit, inclusivity senator; Nathan O'Leary, CAFES senator; Hannah Pechacek, CAS senator; Kao Vang, CBE senator; and Jessica Kuster, CEPES senator.
Several other students were elected to be at-large representatives but not officers in the Senate. These students are a part of the Senate but don't have the same responsibilities of officers.
“The main work of Senate is really to advocate for the student body with campus administration," Sumnicht said. "Make sure we secure the best outcomes for our students on our campus. We review millions of dollars of student fees every year and actually allocate out hundreds of thousands of dollars out to different student organizations.”
Senate also represents UWRF in the UW System and regularly meets with other student senators from other UW System campuses, working together on student issues. Senate is the student body representative in official communication with not just UWRF administration and the UW System, but also with the city and other outside concerns.
Pechacek, the newly elected CAS senator, expressed some of her focused issues.
“Definitely one of my biggest priorities would be improving the communication, of giving the students regular updates of what is going on in Senate, what the issues are and how it affects them and what their options are,” Pechacek said.
There was an issue which came up as the result of a comment posted on Senate's Twitter feed and Facebook website. The tweet said: “Please go and vote!! Kelsey for VP!!!”
Sumnicht gave a statement about the social media incident.
“In regards to a recent Facebook and Twitter post endorsing a vice presidential candidate, the post doesn't reflect any views of Senate. This post was accidentally posted by the candidate, and deleted immediately on the Facebook page. The Twitter post however, [is] not accessible by any Senate members. A former Senate made the Twitter account 'UWRF Senate,' and neglected to transfer the account to new leadership. This Twitter account automatically re-posts all Facebook posts made by the Senate.”
Alex Saxe, at-large representative, explained some of the ongoing senate priorities.
“Trying to get students more involved and voting and caring about what’s going on," Saxe said. "One thing we have been trying to push is getting people informed about the budget cuts and exactly what are they.”
Sumnicht encourages students to look for information from the online Senate newsletter, "The Riv," and make an effort to stay informed on issues which affect them. Senate is the voice of all students on our campus and want students to come to a meeting and get involved.
Senate meets at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays in the Willow River Room of the University Center. The meetings are open to the student body and student involvement is appreciated.