The year ahead

Student Senate shares goals for the university

Sophomore Stephanie Oxley is involved in several campus organizations, although there are still some that are unfamiliar, one being Student Senate.

“They have a lot of power on this campus,” Oxley said, “which is why I would like to see them being more visible this year.”

Student Body President Jake Wrasse said he’s aware of this concern, and plans to make Student Senate more visible by meeting students where they’re at.

Wrasse said he wants to see Student Senate get into classrooms, Residence Hall Association meetings and Hall Council meetings.

“We’re taking the initiative to go and get that voice instead of putting the workload on students,” Wrasse said.

Aside from this, students can email representatives, “like” the Student Senate Facebook page, drop by the office on the second floor of the Davies Center or attend the weekly Student Senate meetings. Meetings are held at 6 p.m. on Mondays in the Davies Center.

Wrasse said he wants to establish an open house where students can talk to representatives outside of meetings and without the professional clothing.

Some of Student Senate’s larger responsibilities students can inquire about include their distribution of 4.5 million dollars towards organizations, such as athletics, forensics, NOTA, recreation, counseling and student health.

Student Senate also helps supervise the Blugold Commitment Differential Tuition budget of 11 million dollars, which aims to provide high impact experiences such as the Blugold Writing Seminar, internships and student-faculty research.

Along with securing a more public presence on campus, Wrasse said he wants to unify teacher evaluations. Currently, each department writes its own teacher evaluation for students to complete.

The concern, Wrasse expressed, is that students are always changing the way they evaluate. There’s also no way to evaluate all the data, since there’s no correlation between department evaluations, he said.

Wrasse said 10 questions have been created that they hope to use in a teacher evaluation campus-wide. Proposed evaluation priorities include ensuring students are comfortable in the classroom, professors respect all opinions, and that they show competency in all cultures.

The university is also about to begin a year-long academic master plan, which means adjusting academics by figuring out what’s important to students.

“I think that can be done and I think it’s crucial that we protect areas like women’s studies and American Indian studies,” Wrasse said, “and even look at establishing programs like a Hmong studies program because strategically and ethically they allow us to serve students better.”

In light of the budget cuts, Wrasse said another Student Senate goal is to continue ensuring that legislators in Madison know the Blugold story.

“That way, hopefully two years from now when we go through a budget process again, they have a full understanding of the issues that we’re facing,” Wrasse said. “They know what we do, what we’re about and the challenges we’re facing.”