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Opinion

Student Senate update: ‘The Riv’ will flow

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April 22, 2015

Student Senate met for the last time Tuesday, April 21, before the new Student Senate members will be transitioned into their new positions.

Senate discussed and passed several motions, including “The Riv” allocation, two bylaw amendments, and the appointment of a new Allocable Fee Appropriation Board (AFAB) chair. I’m going to focus on “The Riv” allocation.

This amendment was moved by Brady Murphy and seconded by now former Vice President Shelby Hehr. This amendment called for a total of $600 to be withdrawn from the “Special Funding and Projects” pool to pay for a year’s subscription of the software in order to produce the Senate newsletter “The Riv.”

First, let me give you a little background about “The Riv.” The newsletter was created by now former Senate President Anthony Sumnicht and includes parts of stories taken from sources such as the Student Voice, the River Falls Journal, and other media outlets including USA Today and BBC. It also includes a Top 10 list and student photos who have used the hashtag #UWRF. This newsletter was launched at the end of March and was being produced on software that was free for the first 60 days of use. Now that the 60 days are up, Senate is looking to fund it so the newsletter can continue.

There was a lot of discussion during the Senate meeting about whether or not this newsletter should continue and if it’s worth funding during these times when money is tight. An argument that kept coming up during the meeting was that UWRF already has several newsletters, including The Falcon Connection and the Falcon Daily. Another argument was that students aren’t really keen on reading newsletters that are emailed to them against their will, and Sumnicht mentioned that only 200 out of the 700 students that were emailed “The Riv” weekly even opened the email. Despite all this, the motion was passed to allocate $600 per year to pay for the continuation of “The Riv.”

What I find interesting about the decision to discuss and vote on this motion is that in a previous article that was on the front page of the Student Voice, Sumnicht said that if Senate receives feedback suggesting that the newsletter is not needed or wanted by students, then it will simply “go away.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think that the fact that less than half of the students even open the email to access “The Riv” shows that yet another campus newsletter isn’t needed or wanted by the student body. Yet, this newsletter refused to simply “go away,” as Sumnicht previously stated that it would. This decision seemed to cater to Senate’s wants, rather than the needs of the university and its students.

I also agree with the argument that came up during the Senate meeting that another campus newsletter is unnecessary. I’m a student and although I read both the Falcon Connection and the Falcon Daily, I know that unfortunately most students don’t.

If this newsletter brought something new to the table, such as original content, I would say go ahead, but the fact that they just take stories from the Voice and other media outlets tells me that this is newsletter would be a waste of the $600 that is now being put foreword to pay for it.

If Senate was really interested in making a newsletter to better communicate with students, they would be focused on writing about the decisions that they make every week and encouraging students to attend their weekly meetings, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

I’d like to end this column by mentioning that on Tuesday the newly elected president, vice president, and Senate members transitioned into their new positions. I’d like to thank every student that took the time to vote and I hope that this new Senate will work to more accurately reflect the views of the student body and work to make this campus a better place for everybody.

All information in this column came from the April 21 Senate meeting, and select documents from its OrgSync page. It’s very important for all students to stay informed on what is going on with Senate. They meet 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.

Natalie Howell is an alumna of UW-River Falls. She was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during the 2016-2017 academic year.