Student Senate update: Complications prevent athletics referendum from passing
May 6, 2015
Student Senate had its last meeting of the semester on Tuesday, May 5. During this meeting, Senate discussed several motions, including the “Recreation and Sports Facility Bylaw Amendment” and the “Athletic Allocable Segregated Fee,” which was postponed at the previous Senate meeting in order for the motion to go through the correct channels before being voted upon.
As a follow-up from my column last week, I will talk about the Athletic Allocable Segregated Fee motion.
This motion, as I have previously written, was created to decide whether or not Senate should hold a referendum that the student body would then vote on to approve a $3 per person, per semester allocable segregated fee in order to support the athletics department, including the women’s tennis and golf teams.
This was in response to a potentially significant budget cut to the athletics department due to the proposed $4.9 million budget cut to the university. Because of this, the athletics department and university leaders were faced with a difficult decision: should the department suspend the women’s tennis and golf teams in order to stay within budget?
Thankfully, as of May 1, this was no longer the case as it was decided that the teams would not be suspended.
The decision on the motion then wasn’t whether or not to financially support the women’s tennis and golf teams, but to support the athletics department as a whole and have them spend the $3 allocable segregated fee as the department sees fit.
There was a lot of discussion on this motion, one concern being that the motion was originally intended to save the two teams that were facing suspension; and with that not being the case anymore, many Senate members saw this additional segregated fee as unnecessary and possibly rushed.
The room seemed fairly split in regards to a vote until it was brought to Senate’s attention by Brenda Irvin from the UW-River Falls budget office that fees “were supposed to be submitted to the UW System by March 31,” and that “F50 makes it clear that athletics are meant to be funded by a non-allocable fees, [sic] this motion is against policy.”
After learning this, Senate did not pass this motion.
Because of this, I left the Senate meeting very frustrated. I wasn’t frustrated about the UW System policy or f50 regulations or the fact that the segregated fee wasn’t passed, I was frustrated that this wasn’t brought to Senate’s attention sooner.
However, according to UW Board of Regents Policy F50, athletics can be funded via an appropriated allocable segregated university fee (SUF). Other UW System schools, such as UW-La Crosse, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Milwaukee, have allocable segregated fees for their athletic departments.
SUF funding cannot, however, be used for salaries and contracts, which is another reason the referendum didn’t pass.
A lot of athletes took the time out of their day to come to the Senate meeting again this week in support of the segregated fee, which was another positive.
I want to end this column by saying that is has been a really interesting semester attending and covering Senate meetings. Before this semester, I shared the same view that most students have: I knew nothing about how Senate worked or how much power they actually had, and I didn’t really care.
But after attending my first meeting, I knew that being informed on what Senate is doing isn’t only important, it’s necessary. I hope these columns have helped you stay informed and I hope to see all of you at the first Senate meeting in the fall.
All information in this column comes from the May 5 Senate meeting and select documents from Senate’s OrgSync page. It’s very important for all students to stay informed on what is going on with Senate. Senate meets at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in the Willow River Room of the University Center, and the meeting agenda can be found 24 hours prior on the Senate page. To see the details of what was discussed last Tuesday, go on the Senate page and read through this week’s minutes document.
The expressed viewpoints in this column do not express the views of the Student Voice staff.
Natalie Howell is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during the 2016-2017 academic year.