Student Senate stalls appointment decision

Senate voted against appointed intergovernmental affairs director candidate



Story by Hillary Smith, Staff Writer

Tensions were stirring Monday night at the first Student Senate meeting of the school year when the body did not appoint an intergovernmental affairs director (IGA).

According to the Student Senate website, “The Intergovernmental Affairs commission works with members of other legislative bodies of the UW system, the city of Eau Claire, and the state of Wisconsin to represent the UW-Eau Claire student body.”

As the presidential election nears, one of the most prevalent responsibilities of the IGA is to ensure students have all the information and assistance to vote readily available to them, Senator Ryan Ring said during his appeal for the position.

Ring also listed his qualifications for the job, including experience communicating with legislators and other government representatives and regularly attending intergovernmental affairs. Afterward, the floor opened for questions.

The Senate asked many questions of Ring, most of which examined his ability to remain politically unbiased in the position. As political representative for the student body, the position calls for a high degree of non-partisanship.

As questions about Ring’s affiliation with partisan political groups flew, both on campus and on social media, Parliamentarian Putnam interjected.

“You can’t ask someone to change their personal life,” Putnam said, closing that line of questioning.

On average, the other students were asked 10 or less questions before the Senate was satisfied. Ring’s examination lasted long enough for Senator Mary-Laura Samples ask to end the questioning, regardless of whether or not members still had questions to ask.

However, with a 6-16 vote, this motion was denied. Before the vote, Senator Samuel Milewsky and Senator Scott Small both said they believed the position to be too important, with the upcoming election, for questioning to be cut short.

The discussion continued until closed session was once again called. For as long as the questioning lasted, the deliberation went even longer.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Ring said moments before re-entering the silent room. “We have 30 days from now to register students (for voting) so we really need someone in this position.”

The Senate will continue seeking a candidate for the position; until then, the IGA position will remain unfilled.

The IGA position was one of the last major pieces to the night’s agenda. After the senate leader and executive members gave their reports updating the state of University Senate affairs after summer break, the Senate addressed the lone piece of legislation on the docket.  

Senator Ethan Fuhrman introduced Bill 60-B-5, or Green Fund Allocation for Solar*Connect. A 25-year long subscription to Xcel’s solar garden will come with this cost-neutral legislation, Fuhrman said, which would in turn provide UW-Eau Claire with clean power.

A $20,000 down payment for the subscription has already been paid. If the bill is passed, $158,000 will be allocated to the fund. Fuhrman urged the Senate members to consider any potential problems with the bill before they vote on Sept. 19.

In addition, the Senate successfully appointed a new web coordinator, student life coordinator and finance intern.

Seeking the web coordinator position, junior Devon Derks presented a one to two month plan for improving the aesthetics and functionality of the University Senate website.

Junior Hunter Clark said that as student life coordinator, he would prioritize expanding awareness for student resources and improving conditions for those living off campus.

Clark said he plans to improve off-campus housing and would like to create a strong foundation for his successor to finalize. Clark is concerned that Eau Claire landlords treat their student tenants unfairly.

“Housing is not up to the standards it should be,” Clark said, citing early lease deadlines and rising rent as two of the biggest problems with off-campus housing.

Following Derks and Clark came junior Elizabeth LeMay, who is majoring in business economics and finances. She secured the finance intern position, advocating for heightened student awareness on the finances of the Senate and increased transparency of the use of funds by keeping the student body updated on financial matters.

“I as a student didn’t know where my money was going,” LeMay said. “That’s something that’s really important to me, is making sure the money is going to a good cause.”

The next Senate meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept 19.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to Student Senate as “University Senate.”