Student senate presidential candidate seeks to improve relationship with students

Story by Tuesday Wustrack

UW-Eau Claire senior Hayley Kubler doesn’t feel a strong connection to Student Senate.

As an intern for English Fest, she said she has had to deal with the Senate in the past and while she appreciates its’ members work, she feels they could improve on their relationships with students and organizations on campus, she said.

“I feel like they’re unreachable,” she said. “I don’t know any of their names.”

Kubler is not the only one who feels this way. Current student senators Corydon Fish and Patrick Martin said they are concerned that other students are scared to talk to them about campus issues.

This, they said, is one of the reasons why they are running as a team for president and vice president of Student Senate for the 2012-2013 school year.

Fish is running for president and has two years of experience in the Student Senate. He is currently an off-campus student senator and director of intergovernmental affairs, where his main job is to “advocate for the student body and other administrative and legislative groups,” he said.

Martin is Fish’s running partner and will be on the ballot as vice president of Student Senate. He is an off-campus senator and the finance commission director. He oversees the budget from segregated fees, which go towards athletic programs, health services and student organizations. It is his goal to fund as many programs as Student Senate can afford, he said.

“(Fish) has got the outreach end of it . . . and I have more of the experience of budgetary knowledge,” Martin said. “With those two strengths put together, I would say that’s a really good need for student advocacy a year ahead.”

Some of the issues they plan to address are sustainability, student life diversity and academics. Specifically, Fish said Student Senate needs to help and create a better relationship with students. Instead of waiting for organizations and individuals to contact them, as president and vice president, they will dedicate a lot of time to reaching out to students and keeping them informed, he said.

“If that means holding listening sessions up in the dorms after students are done eating so they can stop by and talk, then we have to do that,” Fish said. “If that means going around to organizations meetings, that’s what has to happen.”

The team plans to strengthen their relationship with students by keeping communication open, through the Student Senate website, Facebook, email and in person, Martin said.

Transparency is one of the most important things to focus on he said.

Another issue the pair will focus on is keeping segregated fees low.

“These fees are separate from tuition and are a significant portion of students’ bills every year,” Fish said.

Martin said that as vice president, he will make sure the university continues to focus on providing quality education. He and Fish both pointed out that students’ main priorities are to study and focus on their education. They will make sure the university does not push financial burdens on the students, Martin said.

Also, Fish plans on expanding the pool of money that is allocated to those organizations by taking from segregated fees. He wants to increase that pool about 50 percent and hopefully have $30,000 in that pool in the future, he said.

“Too many student organizations are applying for money and they’re getting insignificant amounts of it,” Fish said.

At last, Fish and Martin value student organizations and want to make the process of becoming an organization quicker and easier for students.

“We’ve had a lot of problems in the past with little tiny details like when you’re updating your information, contacts, and all that stuff,” Martin said. “That has really tripped up the student organizations that are doing a lot of really good work. So right off the bat I would like to make that a lot more simple of a process to understand.”