Beyond The Ballot
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For the students involved in on-campus politics, it is more than just business meetings, letters and agendas.
For these three students, they go beyond just playing around with money and using mock government systems. Their schedules are filled and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m honestly the jack of all trades in a way,” she said. “On call if you will, I’ll get the call and I’m out of there. I really do have to switch gears and change my frame of mind for the day.”
Senior Cora Fox, Chief of Staff for UW-Eau Claire’s student senate said she is always working closely with Student Body President Bryan Larson and Vice President Jason Rector to assist them in any way they may see fit. If they need someone to go to a committee meeting or talk to a group of students about anything, Fox said she is their girl.
“Bryan and Jason are really busy,” Fox said. “I pick up the pieces. I go there, and I go there, I make sure everything is smooth.”
For student senate members on campus, life is challenging work. Numerous meetings, initiatives, committees and responsibilities rule their lives, Fox said she is no exception.
A transfer student from Anoka-Ramsey Community College (Minn.), Fox was the public relations director and vice president of her student senate for two years before coming to Eau Claire. Once she arrived on campus, she immediately stepped into a new role.
Fox said she was involved with eight or nine different committees last year including the Student Office of Sustainability, Advisory Committee on Non-Traditional Students, was involved in the student finance committee, student arts and sciences committee along with a few others.
She said she doesn’t mind “running around everywhere” during the school year when things come up unexpectedly. She said it makes for a fun, fulfilling semester and she thoroughly enjoys being busy; it keeps her motivated.
As a behavioral analysis major, Fox said she doesn’t know how she got so involved with on-campus politics, but suspects it is because she can’t get enough of being active at Eau Claire.
“When I’m at home … I just want to be back at school because I like being busy,” she said. “I thrive when I am busy. I know it seems like a very hectic lifestyle while I’m doing all of these things, but I love it. I love being involved, I love knowing that I am making a difference. I love it.”
Fox said she questions what kind of experience she is gaining going into her field of study after her education ends by being involved in so many extra-curricular activities.
“What I’m doing has nothing to do with my field, but the organizational skills and leadership I am gaining by doing this has to help at least a little,” Fox said.
“I love being busy,” he said. “I love to have a lot of plates spinning in the air at one time. If there’s not enough pressure on me I can’t thrive … because I thrive under pressure.”
Sophomore journalism major and Intergovernmental Affairs Director Jacob Wrasse said he got the idea to get involved on-campus after former Student Senate Vice President Patrick Martin pitched the idea to him his freshman year.
Wrasse did not get the position that time around, but has since become an advocate of lobbying statewide for the betterment of students on the Eau Claire campus.
“What Intergovernmental Affairs does, is it is basically lobbying specifically for this campus,” Wrasse said. “We are state liaisons, we can meet with state legislators and representatives who directly work with UW-Eau Claire.”
He said IGA will venture to Madison at least three times during the school year to talk to legislators about different topics that regard the university’s students, its plans and the city of Eau Claire as a whole.
Wrasse said there is much to be done and discussed this semester, especially regarding the Confluence Project and how much it would give name recognition to the city of Eau Claire.
The Confluence Project would help us alleviate some of our overpopulation, we’re currently at 108 percent capacity in the dorms,” he said. “They are going to have state of the art facilities to use for our thriving music and arts community.”
Being a journalism major, Wrasse said he thrives under pressure because it is embedded into his personality. He is a journalism major because he likes to have deadlines, feels better about himself if he is constantly busy and performs best when he knows there are concrete things to be completed.
When not in class or researching different aspects of his responsibilities in senate, Wrasse participates in the award-winning forensics program here.
“One of the things I did get involved with because of that journalism background and that I was passionate about was forensics,” he said. “One of the main reasons I come to Eau Claire is because of the forensics team, which is absolutely stellar.”
Wrasse also attributes his start in senate to forensics and said if it wasn’t for the meetings, he would have never met Martin, which started his
career as a senator.
“If I am going to be involved in something and put my name on something, I’m going to do it well,” he said. “I’ll put my stamp on it and really give it everything I have.”
Junior accounting major Christian Paese serves as the Director of Information Technology as well as an on-campus senator and said he is very happy about how last year turned out.
As director, he said he is allotted approximately $1.2 million and a portion of that is budgeted for innovative technology. Last fiscal year, the innovative technology initiative launched two active learning classrooms.
Paese said hopefully the new learning technology will enhance students’ learning abilities in a new way not seen before on campus.
Along with the active classrooms, the Information Technology commission was in charge of allowing students to receive Microsoft Office for free with a Eau Claire ID.
In regards to how he balances 15 hours of outside work, being the Director of Information Technology and taking a 15 credit course load, he said organization is key.
“It’s a balancing act, and prioritizing, and managing correctly, all of those sort of cliche things you hear about, are absolutely essential,” he said.
Being an accounting major, Paese said that the experience he has already received with his time on senate has given him knowledge and insight into things he could not learn in a classroom.
“Its tough, but is it worth it? Absolutely, yes. No questions asked,” he said.
Politicians Not Required
Student senators are not limited to being politicians or political science majors. A dedication to bettering yourself, your community and your university are common themes all three of these
Even though these three do not necessarily plan to work in politics when they move on from Eau Claire, they all said being involved with senate has been a great kickstart to their individual fields for different reasons and will utilize the lessons they’ve learned in the outside world.