United Council hosts convention in Eau Claire

Story by Eric Larson

Networking, unity building and sustainability were among the many topics discussed at this month’s United Council convention in Eau Claire this past weekend.

United Council – or more formally The United Council of UW Students – is a non-profit, student-directed organization that represents more than 100,000 students at 19 different UW campuses. Founded in 1960, the organization aims to improve student life and protect access to higher education in the state through student leadership opportunities and monthly conventions.

“The conference this weekend was great,” said Janna Casperson, senior and vice president of United Council. “We had a lot of different workshops for everyone – we shared governance, which I think is important for all student leaders to be well-versed in.”

The conference, which kicked off at 9 a.m. Saturday morning in Davies, allowed leaders from student organizations across the state to share ideas and government strategies that have worked well at their home universities. Among them was a presentation from UW-Eau Claire student body president Dylan Jambrek, who spoke about differential tuition.

“The workshop went well,” Jambrek said. “I was able to share insight on the Blugold Commitment – what worked, what didn’t. The main goal was to provide tips for other student governments if they were to be interested in differential tuition for their own institutions.”

Also accomplished at the convention, Jambrek said, was discussion of a constitution that would merge Student Reps – the meetings held by the student body president and vice president from every UW school four times a year – with the United Council conventions.

“The constitution would serve as sort of a Board of Trustees,” he said.

While attendance for the conference was relatively high for most universities, Eau Claire’s was rather low in comparison. Of the 32 voting senators on campus, seven were present for the convention.

Casperson spoke of the issue at the Senate meeting Monday night. She said that Eau Claire’s student government is a beautiful model of how students can work with and for each other in concert with administration, to meet common goals and improve upon their lives as students at the university.

“In regards to the low turnout of our student government … for those of you that are more advanced in your understanding of the administration and the UW System, you could have used the convention to network with other student leaders,” she said in a letter she read during the meeting.

Casperson also said that the student government needs to do a better job at sharing their successes and learning from other UW schools.

Despite the disappointment, Casperson remained optimistic for the UC’s upcoming convention where she said she’ll hopefully be addressing resolutions pertaining to electronic voter registration, the UC’s budget priorities and the merger between Student Reps and the UC.

The UC’s next scheduled conference will be the weekend of Dec. 3-5 in Marshfield, she said.

“It’s such a great chance for UW students to be represented,” she went on to say with a smile. “People come to network and learn to be better student leaders; it really empowers you on a state-wide level.”

While many students involved in UC tend to also be involved in student government, Casperson said anyone – from any organization, be it a sorority, fraternity, business group or club sport – is welcome to attend conventions.

“The Senate pays for travel and hotel costs, so we definitely encourage students interested to stop by the office,” she said. “Workshops are always about fund raising, communication, sustainability – they really reach out to everyone.”