Student Senate unanimously passes two bills and two resolutions

Senators voted to condemn the racist discourse among several members of the Blugold football team, support the computer science department, adopt the 2020-2021 organized activities budget and create the Student Organization Redistribution Fund System

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Photo by Rebecca Mennecke

Student Senate unanimously passed two budgets and two resolutions at Monday night’s meeting.

Student Senate passed four pieces of legislation unanimously on Monday night. 

The four pieces of legislation are as follows: 

  •     63-R-18 – In Condemnation of Racist Discourse Among Select Members of The Blugold Football Team 
  •     63-R-17 – In Support of the Computer Science Department 
  •     63-B-6 – Adopting the 2020-2021 Organized Activities Budget 
  •     63-B-4 – Creating the Student Organization Redistribution Funds System

63-R-18 – In Condemnation of Racist Discourse Among Select Members of The Blugold Football Team

Student Senate unanimously passed the resolution in condemnation of racist discourse among select members of the Blugold football team. 

Senator Stephanie Hoeksema, the director of the Equity in Student Matters Commission, presented the resolution, which “condemns to the highest possible extent the racist discourse based in an incitement of violence, as well as any additional, past or present, forms of oppression,” “calls upon its administration to demonstrate exemplary behavior and not follow the trends of other universities who have failed to hold students accountable for bias incidents” and “implores its administration to find a penalty following the investigation that accurately and proportionally reflects the infraction committed against the student-athlete handbook and Blugold code of conduct; and understand that allowing the perpetrators back into student spaces will affect those who have been influenced by this incident,” according to the resolution.  

“This university is not safe for students of color, period,” Kayde Langer, an on-campus senator, said.  

70 Bias Incident Response reports have been filed this semester, Langer said. 

Langer said this fact should bother other senators as well.  

“I think it’s important to remember that UW-Eau Claire is a predominantly white institution and we, as a body, are a predominantly white body, and we need to use our position in power to amplify the voices of those who are not here,” Mary Stoutenburg, an on-campus senator, said.   

Hoeksema said she wanted to highlight how the players represent the university as student athletes.  

She also said the Chippewa Valley has an active chapter of the Klu Klux Klan, so it plays into how the Snapchat conversation is not a joke and is reflective of real experiences of people. 

“The climate on this campus is one of divisiveness and discrimination,”Jaclyn Buttafuoco, an off-campus senator, said.

She said she wanted to remind other senators of the privilege they have in their positions representing other students.

63-R-17 – In Support of the Computer Science Department

Student Senate also passed 63-R-17 – In Support of the Computer Science Department. 

Senator Travis DuChene, the director of the Academic Affairs Commission, presented the resolution, which “supports the students and faculty of the Computer Science department,” “calls upon the UW-Eau Claire administration to work with the Computer Science Task Force to develop solutions to the issues currently faced by the department” and “calls upon the UW-Eau Claire administration to hire more CS faculty for the Fall of 2020 and to implement emergency hires for the Spring of 2020,” according to the resolution. 

DuChene said many students have considered transferring to a different school as a result of the situation in the computer science department, so this is an important step in retention. 

The resolution had previously passed unanimously in the AAC and in the Computer Science Task Force. 

Many of the “be it resolved” statements in the resolution came directly from students in the forum discussions, DuChene said. 

DuChene said communication at the beginning of the process was challenging.  

“I had to go around asking the administrators myself,” DuChene said. “Not a lot of the CS faculty actually knew what was happening, and they were having difficulties contacting upper administration and actually receiving plans and information from the administration.” 

He said it wasn’t until after the first AAC forum that they reached out to the provost and the dean about the situation that lines of communication were established. Then, they began receiving more information, he said. 

The current plan and plans for the future include: 

  •     Hiring tenure-track professors for Fall 2020
  •     Emergency hires for Spring 2020
  •     Creation of new program
  •     Obtaining a supercomputer from Cray

The current concern, DuChene said, is whether current faculty will stay and whether new faculty will be hired. The hiring process is still ongoing, DuChene said. 

Right now, DuChene said they are slotted for six emergency hires. They have three that have been reached out to, DuChene said. 

DuChene said right now some of the emergency hires will be overload staff, or staff members who already currently work at UW-Eau Claire. DuChene said most of the faculty will be coming from LTS because many faculty members there have a degree in computer science. 

“This resolution, I think, is really important for us to pass up as we do represent the student body,” Grace Luloff, an on-campus senator, said. “It is important to show that we hear students, we hear their struggles and we hear that they want change.” 

DuChene said there is no guarantee that anything will happen. But he said 25 students each year who are a part of the CS program are part of a one-to-one exchange program, and, if the CS program fails or the quality of education decreases, these students will lose their visas. 

Lauren Becker, the director of the Student Office of Sustainability, said it is important to observe other departments for what may be “falling through the cracks.” 

63-B-4 – Creating the Student Organization Redistribution Funds System

Student Senate also unanimously passed 63-B-4 – Creating the Student Organization Redistribution Funds System. 

“I find that this bill would be extremely helpful in effectively maximizing the use of student dollars,” Stoutenberg said. 

63-B-6 – Adopting the 2020-2021 Organized Activities Budget

Student Senate also unanimously passed 63-B-6 – Adopting the 2020-2021 Organized Activities Budget. 

“The finance commission has really done their due diligence regarding this process,” Becker said. “I appreciate the work that they do.”

Presentation from Jay Dobson

As a part of the Student Senate meeting, Jay Dobson, the police chief, gave a presentation on updates from the UW-Eau Claire Police Department. 

He said there are currently eight individuals who are banned from campus. Seven out of the eight individuals are not affiliated with the university. The eighth individual was banned from campus for making threats against Chancellor James Schmidt, Dobson said. 

Drug incidents are more common, Dobson said, namely in the residence halls. There have been 53 incidents this semester so far — involving mainly marijuana, Dobson said. 

They have issued 22 citations for the public intoxication order thus far, Dobson said.  

Dobson also said incidents of mental health and people in crisis are on the rise. To date, police have responded to 19 incidents, Dobson said. Many of them are wellness checks. 

Dobson said he is increasing his attention on security cameras around campus. He said he is considering placing security cameras in strategic areas, particularly given the Garfield Avenue construction. 

Dobson said he wanted to be a part of the silent rally on campus today.  

“Quite frankly, police in general, there is a rising distrust — sometimes even a dislike — of law enforcement, and I’d like people to understand who we are,” Dobson said. “However, as I mentioned before, I didn’t want my uniform to be a distraction. And to me, that’s sad.”

63-R-19 – In Support of Improving Resources for Students of Marginalized Identities

Stoutenberg also presented 63-R-19 – In Support of Improving Resources for Students of Marginalized Identities. 

This resolution “calls on UW-Eau Claire administration to innovate and improve resources for our current students of marginalized identities,” “recognizes that there are unique struggles faced by those of historically marginalized identities that require unique support,” “recognizes that… students of color require more support so that their experience is equitable to those who do not identify as such” and says that Student Senate will “continue to show support for all marginalized identities on campus,” according to the resolution.

Stoutenberg withdrew the legislation. 

The legislations 63-B-7 – Forming the Blu Managerial Ad Hoc Committee and 63-B-5 – Adopting the New Student Senate Logo will be discussed at the next Student Senate meeting.  

Mennecke can be reached at [email protected]