Student Senate supports creation of Hmong Studies Program

Last week the chancellor and provost gave the final approval for a Hmong Studies Program on campus


Photo by Andee Erickson

Student Senate met Monday night in the Woodland Theater to approve legislation recognizing the life of former student body President Timothy Lauer and another resolution recognizing the approval of a Hmong Studies Program.

The past couple weeks Senator Alison Wagener said she and Senators Ashley Sukhu, Paul Soulier and Ethan Fuhrman had been working on a resolution to urge the creation of a Hmong Studies Program.

But after the program was approved last week by Chancellor James C. Schmidt and Provost Patricia Kleine the senators changed the intentions of the resolution to recognize the creation of a Hmong Studies Program. Student Senate voted in full support of the recognition.

Courses in the program will be offered in fall of the 2017-2018 school year, Wagener said, with only enough courses offered to fulfil a minor during the program’s first years.

Wagener said Hmong students were included in the creation of the resolution when the document was brought to a Hmong Student Association meeting last week for approval. The resolution is an opportunity for Senate to honor the work of the Hmong students, Wagener said, and the fact that their program is finally coming to fruition.

“It’s really something that the Hmong Studies Initiative here on campus has been working on for many years,” Wagener said. “This is definitely not something that started this year or with us.”

The approval of the program is also an important institutional step in embodying the values of equity, diversity and inclusivity the campus is striving towards, Wagener said.

President Jake Wrasse said the program will help recognize the extensive Hmong presence on campus and make it easier for other students to understand the culture of their Hmong classmates.

“This is something I think was driven largely and incredibly by students,” Wrasse said. “But specifically I want to thank the students outside this room who made their voices heard and made it very clear this is a priority.”

Hopefully, Wrasse said, 50 years from now people won’t be able to imagine the campus without this program.


In other Senate news

Wrasse introduced a resolution recognizing the life of Timothy Lauer and his service to UW-Eau Claire. Lauer served as student body president at Eau Claire during the 2008-2009 school year, Wrasse said, and passed away unexpectedly last week.

“In his time at UW-Eau Claire he was instrumental in a number of major things we take for granted,” Wrasse said.

Lauer served on a Davies building committee for three years, Wrasse said, and was also responsible for the incorporation of the fish tank into the Davies Center on the second floor. Senate passed the resolution passed with full support.