Senate resolution calls for formal review in legality of UC vote

Story by Alex Zank & Nate Beck, News Editor & Staff Writer

Student Senate passed legislation Monday requesting a formal review of a conflict between two laws that were cited in last week’s decision to disavow United Council.

The resolution asks that the UW System General Council review whether Regent Policy 30-4 and Wisconsin State Statute 36.09(5) are contradictory and to define language in 30-4.

Chief of Staff Tyrel Zich said there are uncertainties in 30-4 that seem contradictory to the Regent policy, which prompted the resolution.

“It contains some vague and undefined terms that are essential to interpreting what it means,” Zich said. “Depending on how you interpret certain terms it could potentially be in violation of 36.09(5).”

The terms the resolution requested clarification on were: “inter-institutional governance support purpose” and “governance support.”

“Asking for clarification now makes sense, in that (senate) already have an agenda, now they’re trying to make it okay on paper,” sophomore Miri Francis said.

Francis said that senate was not transparent enough when eliminating United Council.  Students were not given enough notice before the bill went through, she said.

Senate requested the General Council to report its analysis by Feb. 22.

If any discrepancies are found between the two policies, it will likely be 30-4 that is modified to not contradict the state statute.

“36.09(5) holds more power than 30-4 based on the way that the legislation is structured and who answers to who in the chain of command,” Francis said.

Each student pays segregated fees, which are meant to fund campus clubs, student organizations and other things. Wisconsin State Statute 36.09(5) gives Senate the power to decide how student fees are spent.

Regent Policy 30-4 outlines Mandatory Refundable Fees (MRFs). Like segregated fees, MRFs are added to base tuition.  MRFs cost Eau Claire students $3 a year and can be individually refunded upon request.

Usually, dropping an MRF fee is decided by a campus-wide student referendum.  Eau Claire students voted to remain a part of United Council in fall of 2011.

Senate voted Jan. 28 to no longer recognize United Council as a representative body of Eau Claire, although there is no language in 30-4 that allows Eau Claire to drop an MRF fee by a senate vote alone.

Senior Casey Coughlin said that senate does not legally have the right to decide what happens with MRFs or Eau Claire’s membership status with UC.

“It’s not really their money, it’s the students’ money,” Coughlin said. “Even if we did vote no in the referendum, it still wouldn’t go to Student Senate … it wouldn’t go anywhere; the students would just have $3 more a semester.”

Although 30-4 requires a student referendum to cut United Council, Senate opted not to draft a referendum because UC used get-out-the-vote efforts in 2011, according to the Jan. 28 bill to cut UC.  Senate cited its rights under 36.09(5) instead.

“There is no reason to rush a bill like that and not hold listening sessions with students,” Senator Kayla Johnson said.  “We didn’t allow students any discussion until the day we passed the bill.”