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Student Senate Update 10/23/18

October 24, 2018

The Student Senate meeting on Tuesday, October 23rd began with a few updates from senators, before hearing from the potentially forming potluck club.

Potluck club stated their case, and the potluck club representative explains why it would be good for the campus community. A few senators raised questions about the issue of having a club with food, and the representative addressed these concerns. He explained that the club could be held in Lydecker or South Hall, which doesn’t have as strict regulations. President Rosie Pechous stated she is for the approval of the club. It then went up to vote, with a majority in favor and one abstaining.

Dean Yohnk, the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, introduced himself next. He then gave a background on his career, before discussing updates and innovations within the school. Yohnk showed that the college now offers Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees.Yohnk explained that this is beneficial since it has drawn new students and returning to college students who are interested in getting this degree, which can then be transferred anywhere in the country.

Yohnk talks a bit about the CAS’s Student Advisory Council, and how it allows students to share ideas and provide feedback. He then covered some teacher awards, the Excellence in Teaching award going to Ann Lawton, an art professor. The Excellence in Advising award went to Grace Coggio, who teaches communications.

Yohnk then provided program updates, stating that Biology, upon approval, will be breaking into two sectors, Field Biology and Biomedical. Communication and Media Studies recently passed Psychology in terms of size, though Psychology is also growing due to the neuroscience program. Yohnk said the fastest growing program on campus is currently Criminology.

Another program update was that the physics department at UWRF is in the top ten in the nation for undergraduates in physics. This is the second largest in the UW system, second only to UW- Madison. There are peer mentoring programs available to Art Ambassadors, Psychology, and Biology. Trained peer mentors are assigned to a group of students for the year and beyond. This is the Universities effort to boost retention rates among students.

The senators then hear from Alan Symicek, who talks about differential tuition. Symicek explained that the university will match all differential tuition dollars. Differential Tuition is used to update classrooms. It is much more efficient to do a large update once, instead of several little ones.

Many things are assessed when making a decision about what project to fund, specifically how it impacts students. This year, new technology will be going to the greenhouse classroom, as well as some rooms in KFA. Furniture was also replaced throughout KFA, North Hall, and Ag Science. Also, a little over a million dollars will be going into updating the media lab in KFA in the following year.

The meeting then moves into updates from senators. Katie Schmitt mentions that a speaker will be coming to talk about sustainability on campus. Also, the first academic affairs meeting took place this week. Temi Abiodum found out that when a student will miss class for an extended period of time, they should call the Provost office. Pechous reports that the HLC meeting went well, according to Wes Chapin.

Pechous brought up that Trump plans to undefine transgender people. The UW- River Falls center of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging released a statement on Facebook for transgender students, reminding them they are supported.

Pechous reminded senators to believe in sustainability. Pechous mentions the Office of Sustainability does not have a permanent office and needs either help with funding or direct funding. She then shows a quick powerpoint on non-traditional students. Senators will be looking into more information on financial aid for nontraditional students so that the university can incorporate this information in an easily accessible way.

Senators then discussed the midterm elections and their plans to get students in the loop about where to vote. It is stressed that senators must encourage voting, but not advocate for a candidate.