Student Senate approves four resolutions, plans to vote on next year’s tuition funding

Session produces resolutions to protect on-campus vending services and expand off-campus housing ordinances


Photo by Amanda Thao

Information Technology Director Jarrett Yuknis, pictured, was unable to attend the cramped meeting in Woodland Theater, but his resolution to support and advocate measures to make mobile apps the standard for in-class polling is going to be presented to the University Senate with overwhelming support from his colleagues.

Cooped up in the confines of the Woodland Theater, Student Senate methodically questioned and debated details for the better part of a three-hour session Monday that resulted in four passed resolutions and the introduction of a proposed tuition-funding bill slated for the 2017-18 academic year.

Resolution supports recommendations for special committee on student equity

Senate passed a resolution to endorse a series of recommendations for a new commission currently in the planning process.

According to the resolution, the commission will incorporate at least nine members including both members of the Senate body and student representatives from the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Women’s and LGBTQ Center, Students with Disabilities, Veterans Services and other campus organizations.

The objectives of the new commission include the allocation of diversity funds, outreach to other organizations of marginalized identities, responding to incidents on campus that affect campus climate change and serving as a liaison between marginalized students and the administration, among other purposes.

The resolution passed with a unanimous 25-0-0 roll call vote, but there was much debate regarding the vague language of the proposal and the unprecedented nature of this commission.

The commission would utilize Senate funds, pay its director and appoint the Outreach and Inclusivity Coordinator, all while maintaining a greater level of autonomy and less Senate oversight than other student legislative entities.

Student Body President Ashley Sukhu said the commission represents a new way to overcome a reoccurring issue of alienation between marginalized communities and their own Senate representatives.

“This committee, it’s a very diverse group with different opinions,” Sukhu said. “We’ve had a history where some of our (Outreach and Inclusivity) coordinators have not reflected the individual marginalized communities. Even I reflected many views that were of the dominant group versus those accepted by marginalized communities.”

Resolution supports implementation of stricter ordinances for off-campus housing

Senate approved a resolution to back tougher ordinances for the area’s landlords in order to improve the conditions of off-campus housing.

According to the resolution, changes in the ordinances would include a proactive residential inspection program and a landlord registration program, expanding language-prohibiting retaliation against tenants who report violations of local or state law.

“(There are) serious health problems that are happening to our fellow Blugolds because of unsafe housing conditions,” Chief of Staff Katy McGarry said. “You know the horror stories. You’ve been off campus, you’ve seen the houses.”

The resolution passed 23-0-0.

Senate votes to support protection of all campus vending services

Senate passed a resolution 26-0-0 in support of keeping all vending services available on campus, a response to the decision by UW-Eau Claire’s Housing and Residence Life to cut all vending services, except for the vendors in Katherine Thomas, Oak Ridge and the lobby of Towers on upper campus.

Senator David Miller, an author of the resolution, said the decision by campus faculty comes on the heels of reports that, while the vending service as a whole is profitable, some vending services in the residence halls are not, and these are scheduled to be removed for the 2017-18 academic year.

The argument, he said, is these services are part of the experience students pay for in tuition. Vendors are only becoming more valuable with shorter cafeteria hours and other options, such as off-campus delivery services like Dominoes or Toppers, being much more expensive than college students can afford.

Other senators noted the difficulty students may face during inclement weather, especially during winter to procure food from fewer sites.

Senate favors mobile device technology vs. traditional iClicker for in-class polling

Senate voted to pass a resolution supporting a comprehensive switch to polling apps accessible through mobile devices, typically smartphones or laptops.

The resolution, authored by Information Technology Director Jarrett Yuknis and presented by Senator Ryan Ring, notes similar initiatives have been discussed in the past and have been overwhelmingly supported by students, while also facing lukewarm support among faculty afraid the use of mobile devices in class will be a distraction.

Senator Small said incorporating widespread use of mobile apps like Reef will serve to cut costs for students and make the classroom experience simpler and more accessible.

“This is probably the only tangible thing you can touch in the classroom in all your time on Senate. It will save students money. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be a requirement for staff,” Small said. “If we go to the University Senate meeting and we really make a stink about it, maybe we can change some minds.”

The resolution passed 21-2-0.

Senate will vote on budgetary bill next week

Nathan Altmann, director of the Academic Affairs commission, introduced the bill for the Blugold Commitment Differential Tuition Funding Proposal. Senators will evaluate this week and vote on the bill during next Monday’s session, regarding the allocation of differential tuition spending.

As it stands now, approximately $10.1 million is planned to cover $4.5 million for ongoing programming, $2.2 million for the Provost Initiative and $3.4 million for financial assistance.