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Student government association fills empty seats

November 13, 2021

The Student Government Association (SGA) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) provides and encourages student involvement in campus policy making through a variety of capacities.

Whether it is by joining the student senate, sitting on an SGA or Faculty Senate subcommittee, or by witnessing an SGA meeting, UWRF students have a wide range of avenues to get a seat at the proverbial table. Senator positions encompass all colleges at UWRF, and there are also At-Large senator positions that do not require students to have a specific affiliation with a campus institution. The SGA will be filling 13 vacant seats this semester and are in the midst of their election process. Other than requiring that students must have a GPA of at least 2.5 and be in good standing with the conduct office, Student Body President Brigitte Ledferd said that the SGA does not put limitations on who can run for student senate.

“We want all students from different backgrounds and perspectives. If you like speaking up, if you like advocating for others, if you like being in the know and using your voice to help others we want you,” said Ledford. 

Ballots for the vacant senator positions opened on Oct. 19th and closed on Nov. 1st and were held online on UWRF’s MyOrgs SGA webpage. The winning senators are expected to be announced and sworn in on Nov. 9th. 379 students voted in this semester’s election, representing a nice jump compared to last spring where only 150 students voted.

While the window to become a student senator has closed for this semester, Ledferd stresses that there are still other options for students to participate in campus government. SGA subcommittees, such as the Finance Committee, which is charged with allocating funding to student organizations and reviewing and approving the allocable and non-allocable budgets for campus entities like Residence Life, have seats available for students who are not on the student senate. 

“Student Senate in itself is a time commitment, and if you don’t have that much time to spare, but you still want to be active in the shared governance community and advocating for others, you can sit on any of those committees,” said Ledferd. 

The same can be said for the 32 Faculty Senate subcommittees, like the Diversity and Inclusivity Committee, as they also have seats open for students irrespective of their SGA involvement.

“It’s a really cool opportunity to get to know faculty in a way other than just being in the classroom with them, and also just being able to advocate for the students in those meetings, it’s very important,” said Ledferd on the Faculty Senate subcommittee seats for students.

Student senators must sit on at least one of the seven SGA subcommittees, with each subcommittee being chaired by a director who is a member of the senate. The SGA leadership is structured through an executive board composed of a president, vice president, chief of staff, and the subcommittee directors. 

Student senate meetings take place every week on Tuesdays at 7 pm in the Willow River Room of the University Center. These meetings are open for anyone to attend and there is an open forum spot on their agenda for students who want to bring an issue or topic to the attention of the student senate. Ledferd outlined some of her administration’s plans for the SGA during a goal setting segment of the student senate’s first meeting. At the end of the day, the main objective for her term is simple; she wants students to know the decisions that are being made by UWRF policy makers. Ensuring that students occupy seats on both Faculty and Student Senate subcommittee meetings is her strategy to bolster transparency on campus. 

A revision of the advising structure is also a focus of Ledferd’s. She has heard frustrations from students who have gone through multiple advisors and missed ideal enrollment sessions for courses they needed to graduate because they weren’t on the same page with their advisor. Ledford wants to make sure that both students and their advisors are put in a spot where they can form a strong connection that fosters academic success. 

Agendas for past and upcoming meetings, along with minutes from previous meetings are made viewable on the UWRF Student Senate webpage. Anyone looking to become more involved in the shared governance at UWRF can email sgapresident@uwrf.edu or go to the SGA offices in the Involvement Center and speak with SGA executives during their posted office hours.