The most important group you’ve never heard of

Senators working for same goals, for different reasons

Every Monday, dozens of students gather together to represent the student population to university administrators and governments on a city, state and national level.

Dressed in formal business attire, they pass bills and resolutions, speaking in language that wouldn’t be out of place in a city council or state legislature’s meeting.

The student senators, despite attempts to publicize themselves and connect with students, are not usually observed at their meetings even though they’re open to the public, with only one or two students or administrators in attendance.

Despite that, they manage the allotment of over $4 million in segregated fees to organizations on campus, including Blugold athletics and Student Health Service.

They also oversee distribution of the $1.2 million Information Technology budget and the $11 million in Blugold Commitment Differential Tuition budget, according to the Senate’s website.

Student Body President Sam Fish said Student Senate is a way for people to be involved in the workings of the school and have a hand in the way in which decisions are made.

Fish said the Senate holds itself to professional standards for everything from professional attire to the way they act during the meetings and in school.

He said he was motivated to go into Student Senate executive positions, as was Student Body Vice President Jacob Wrasse, as a way to see how the campus and university continues to progress and grow.

“We knew where our positions are, and we knew what had to be done,” Fish said. “And we thought we were the best people for the job.”

The sense of gravity is apparent in the Senate’s meetings.

Even on days when there is nothing new and the only matters that require voting on are personnel matters and appointments to committees, the senators pay strict attention to protocol.

At last Monday’s meeting, for example, a question on procedures meant searching through bylaws for 10 minutes to find the correct way a question should be posed regarding an appointee’s credentials.
Senior Matthew Riedel said he has seen the importance of student government as both a senator at UW-Eau Claire, and a senator and Student Body President during his time at UW-Marathon County.

He said taking the proper procedures seriously is important for doing the best job for the university.

“It is important to follow parliamentary procedures on our own and operating documents to keep all discussions really civil and pertinent,” Riedel said.

However, none of the senators gave the same reasons for why they became involved in Student Senate or for why they thought others became involved.

The spectrum ran from being motivated by egalitarian goals like improving the campus and representing students, all the way to it being resume building tool and because it will look good and help network later in life, and everything in between.

Public Relations Commission Director Amy Jewell said she joined Student Senate after meeting other people who were involved in it and seeing the difference Student Senate can make on the university.

She said the normal procedures and activities have been interesting to learn, but also how much Student Senate is involved in, either directly through their own committees and commissions or through involvement in university and city projects.

Jewell said Student Senate’s role on campus is making sure that students know that they can change things and that they have a say.

“And to talk to administration and faculty,” Jewell said. “I feel like that’s one of those things that scares students, but as Student Senate we can do that.”

Riedel said while sometimes the Student Senate can seem like it’s bound by its pomp and circumstance, it puts a serious effort into doing new things for the school.

“I think that often it goes above and beyond what is required of it,” Riedel said. “Creating programs and initiatives that aren’t required by any statute or bylaw, but out of a sense of need for the students.”