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Opinion

Student Senate update: Women’s athletics referendum put on hold

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April 29, 2015

There was a big turnout for the Student Senate meeting on Tuesday, April 28, and because I now write this column every week encouraging people to educate themselves about what Senate is doing, this made me extremely happy.

But I unfortunately cannot take the credit for the increased attendance. There were several motions on the agenda pertaining to the athletics department and the future of the women’s tennis and golf teams, so student-athletes filled the room to support those teams. These motions including the “Athletic Allocable Segregated Fee,” the “Resolution Opposed to the Suspension of the Women’s Golf and Tennis Team” and the “Athletic Budget Resolution.”

These motions were all in response of the possibility that the women’s golf and tennis teams could be suspended due to the potential $4.9 million budget cut to the university and therefore a large cut to the UW-River Falls athletics department.

The Athletic Allocable Segregated Fee was moved by former Senate President Anthony Sumnicht and seconded by Joseph Schmit, and was set to be discussed and voted on by the new Senate this Tuesday. If this motion passed, Senate would hold a referendum that the students would then vote on to approve a $3 per person, per semester allocable segregated fee to support the women’s tennis and golf teams.

There was a lot of discussion on this matter, and during this discussion a motion was moved and seconded to strike the women’s golf and tennis teams from the amendment. This means that although the $3 would still go to the athletics department to support varsity athletics, it does not necessary have to go to the women’s golf and tennis teams.

Eventually it was suggested by current Senate President Chris Morgan to postpone voting on this until the last Senate meeting of the year (next Tuesday) in order for the Senate members to get more information about what exactly they’re voting on and for this amendment to go through the UWRF Allocable Fee Appropriate Board (AFAB).

The reasoning was that this amendment was rushed by former Senate members, and therefore didn’t go through the correct channels before being discussed by Senate. If the amendment was voted on Tuesday night, Senate would have had to suspend their bylaws.

Although I’m for the $3 allocable segregated fee to keep the women’s golf and tennis teams alive, I’m a little confused about the sudden change of heart by Senate. At their meeting on Tuesday, March 31, Senate voted on and passed the “Varsity Sport Review Resolution,” which supported the idea of the athletics department “reviewing the current varsity sports array for the purpose of addressing the potential budget shortfall by eliminating a varsity sport.”

Although I’m happy about the change of heart, it seems strange that the former Senate president that passed this resolution is the person that moved to add a segregated fee to save the same teams that he was in support of eliminating. Because of this postponement, I would encourage everyone who has an opinion about this possible segregated fee to attend the next Senate meeting and have their voices heard.

One of the best ways that students can make a difference is to stand up for the things that we care about, and the best way to do that is to stand up in front of those who are there to represent our wants and needs as a student body.

All information in this column comes from the April 28 Senate meeting and select documents from the Senate 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 in 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.