Student Senate approved $1.1 million in student technology budget

Senate passed a bill estimating budget fee ranges for student technology and showed support for the federal Perkins loan


Photo by Kendall Ruchti

From left to right: senators Paul Solier, Ashley Sukhu, Ryan Bell, Steven Witzeling, Alec Putnam and Nicholas Bursaw at a Student Senate meeting held at 6 p.m. every Monday.

Student Senate approved an estimated $1.1 million budget range to student-accessible technology for the 2017 fiscal year.

The student technology budget funds permanent and student support positions for help desks and lab operations, equipment checkouts and library computers and printers.

Since the university staff also uses the software and Internet, Director of Information Technology Jarrett Yuknis said the commission only pays a fraction of those services.

Yuknis said the major change to Information Technology’s estimate was in response to campus budget cuts made this past summer. The budget cuts included the loss of a $140,000 fee to rotate out older lab equipment on campus, Yuknis said, and the commission delegated an additional $90,000 toward general access labs in order to combat the lost space of the 24 hour lab.

“As a technology commission we support having labs on campus,” Yuknis.

However, Yuknis said as the commission works toward building a budget to better acknowledge the high percentage of students using their own devices, new lab spaces shouldn’t require the full dollar amount allotted.            

Senate also approved a resolution in support of renewing the Federal Perkins loan. Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Katy McGarry, introduced the resolution in response to the House of Representatives not renewing the loan in September.

McGarry said UW-Eau Claire was one of 1,700 colleges and universities with students who received funding from the loan. The loan has a five percent interest rate beginning 10 months after graduation, McGarry said, and many Eau Claire students have benefited from it.

Coordinator of Outreach and Inclusivity, Ashley Sukhu, said she supports the resolution and would like it to be available to students who need to use it.

Although he supported the bill, Senator Mathew Riedel also said he was hesitant to show support. The loan gives students access to higher education, Riedel said, but it also promotes passing politics which leave students in debt.

“As a generation of students, we’re facing what’s said to be the next big bubble of student loan debt,” Riedel said.

Vice President Jordan Mabin said he and Student Body President Jake Wrasse will take senate’s support for the loan to legislatures in Washington D.C. while on a trip with other student representatives within the UW System.

Wrasse said four issues are identified which they plan to take to D.C in January. Along with the Federal Perkins Loan, college affordability, student loan debt and campus safety will be addressed in half hour-long meetings with Wisconsin representatives as well as representatives of committees pertaining to education

In other Senate news

After transitioning from paper ballots to online ballots for the student government elections in the spring of 2015, senate approved a bill that addressed unanticipated administration issues that occurred last spring with the introduction of the online ballot program.

The bylaw changes states the Elections Committee of Senate will work with the marketing coordinator to advertise to students when polls will open. The Elections committee must also meet at least twice between when petitions are due and polls open as well as once per every day the polls are open to manage any administration or ballot issues.

Parliamentarian Karissa Mueller said since the ballot is online, the bylaw changes put a restriction on when changes can no longer be accepted. The Elections Committee will accept all changes until 24 hours before polls open.