The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Lone presidential ticket to run for Student Senate

By Mark Schaaf

[email protected]

The Student Senate elections will go on as planned next week, but if it feels a little empty, well, it is.

Senior Ray French and freshman Meghan Charlier are the only names that will adorn the top of the ballot in next week’s election, making it the first uncontested presidential election in recent history.

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No records are kept regarding the number of instances it has occurred, but it has not happened in at least the last 15 years, Student Senate program assistant Colleen Bader said.

While French and current Senate President Chris Wagner said they are relatively unconcerned about the ramifications of an uncontested election, other senators had a different take.

Senator Aaron Olson, who served as president before Wagner, said it is a troubling sign for the Student Senate.

“The problem is that the organization is on a downward trend,” Olson said. “So much so that when a viable candidate like Ray French takes up the flag, no one is going to challenge.”

But French said it was a “rebuilding year,” and he expects a much more contentious Senate when the 51st session begins.

“I’ve heard it called a failure of the organization,” French said. “But this was kind of an off year for the university as a whole. There wasn’t a whole lot of controversy; there wasn’t a lot of reason to get involved with Student Senate. This was an adjustment year. We’re rebuilding the organization.”

Typically there is at least one “Senate” ticket, consisting of current student senators, and a “housing” ticket, which has included RAs or other students heavily involved with housing and residence life.

Last year, there were three presidential tickets, with the winners – Wagner and current Vice President Chris Nielson – a “split ticket.” Wagner represented housing and Nielson was a student senator.

But Wagner has come under a steady stream of criticism since taking office, and Olson said potential candidates should take notice.

“Hopefully people without experience are realizing that you need experience to run this organization,” Olson said. “It’s not enough that you’re an RA, it’s not enough that you organized a leadership weekend.”

Wagner, however, said a core group of “housing people” graduated, and there wasn’t much networking with current students involved with housing.

In the Senate, he said the “best people were outsourced” and left the organization to pursue other things, such as working on statewide campaigns.

“Our students are so successful at what they’re doing, they want to do the best available thing with their time and energy,” Wagner said, adding retention would increase with higher wages for senators, something he advocated earlier in the session.

In addition to the uncontested presidential election, the Student Senate extended its petition deadline five days in a push for more Senate candidates.

For off-campus positions, there are 17 candidates for 18 positions, while 18 candidates are competing for 12 on-campus spots.

“The people that are running have an energy that I haven’t seen in a year or two,” Senate Parliamentarian and five-year member Avril Flaten said, adding there was not as much publicity during the current session. “No matter the results of the election, I’m looking forward to seeing the new generation of senators.”

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Lone presidential ticket to run for Student Senate