Student Senate passed a bill that forms EDI committee

Resolution addressing segregated fees sparks extended conversation

More stories from Graham Rowe


Photo by Amanda Thao

Student Senate discussed many pieces of legislation on how funds are to be allocated.

Student Senate passed a bill highlighting UW-Eau Claire’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity plan.

One of four pieces of legislature discussed by Senate, the bill proposed forming a special committee to address student needs surrounding EDI issues, serving as a means of communication and cooperation between faculty and students on the topic.

Senator Bobbi Freagon and Academic Affairs Director Nathan Altmann voiced their support of the bill because they said there would be more student representation with this legislation.

Student Body President Ashley Sukhu also expressed her support.

“I think that this really gets at the idea of allowing students to build a commission that they want to see to address the needs of our campus in a specific way,” Sukhu said.

Senate also debated whether or not to fully fund LGBTQIA+ students attending the Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC) in Chicago, which would provide opportunities for students of the LGBTQIA+ community to learn skills for living a healthy life in current society.  

Some argued conferences are a privilege and should be partially funded just as other conferences in the past. Others said this conference will benefit the campus and the students, as it will help to bring these students into the community and to living a better life. After discussion, Senate passed the bill to fully fund the trip to MBLGTACC.

One of the more extensively debated issues was a resolution opposing the option to opt-out of fees that would pay for many student organizations and campus activities. This recommendation was written in the budget proposal Gov. Scott Walker presented last week. Senate’s resolution emphasized these fees are essential to many student organizations and campus activities, and opting out of them would be detrimental to said organizations.

Sukhu compared the bill to taxes and said everyone sitting in the room was currently benefiting from these fees because they participate in these organizations.

“You pay all your taxes because in some way, shape or form you benefit from the services that your taxes provide,” she said.

The bill passed after a discussion on whether it was in the best interest of the students and the university as a whole.

Senate introduced and passed another resolution in support of the university connecting and partnering with local businesses and projects in Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley. The resolution stated the student body profoundly benefits from local businesses and the Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls area in many ways, as written in the official report.

Several senators voiced their support of the resolution because similar partnerships with the city and university, such as the Confluence Project and career conferences, have benefited students.

Senate passed another resolution supporting Walker’s proposed budget, which would increase the UW System’s funds by $100 million. The governor’s proposal also included additional funds for other components of university-related agenda.

Chief of Staff Katy McGarry expressed her support for the resolution. She said it is a small step in the right direction.  

Other speakers voiced their opposition to the resolution because they would prefer to be reimbursed for what was lost in previous years with the UW System budget cuts.

The meeting lasted four hours with four pieces of legislature passed without much dissent.

Student Senate meets at 6 p.m. on Monday evenings in the Dakota Ballroom in Davies Student Center and is open to all students.