Student senate covers EDI Task Force and more

2020 census, EDI Task Force, new members and all-gender bathrooms headline student senate meeting

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Student senate introduced new members and discussed all-gender restrooms and current issues regarding the EDI Rapid Action Task Force.

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The Student Senate met at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 17 in the Dakota ballroom to learn more about the 2020 census, introduce new members and discuss the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Rapid Action Task Force’s final report, as well as proposed plans to add hygiene products in the all-gender restrooms.

Rachael Manning, a Wisconsin partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, gave a presentation at the beginning of the meeting. She provided information on how and when to participate in the census.

She said college students are a part of the Census Bureau’s “Hard To Count” or HTC demographic, which also includes groups such as seniors, the homeless and immigrants.

“This will likely be the first time many of you participate in a census,” Manning said. “I’m here to educate you on how to do so.”

The census can be responded to by letter, over the phone or online in dozens of different languages and is completely confidential. This is the first census to have an online response option.

Five new members were inducted into the senate to fill vacancies. The meeting commenced as usual and at the conclusion of the meeting, Charlie Johnson, student body president, swore in the new members.

A large portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussing on UW-Eau Claire’s EDI Rapid Action Task Force’s final report, within which were recommendations for handling racist incidents more adequately, in response to those which occurred last semester.

The report was sent out via email to UW-Eau Claire student body and previously reported on by the Spectator.

The senate’s reactions to the report were varied, and multiple amendments were proposed. The general consensus focused on how this was not the solution to problems the university has had, but it was a step in the right direction.

Caleb Kulich, a third-year senator, spoke out in support of the report.

“By no means is this report comprehensive,” Kulich said. “but it is an important first step.”

Sophia Spittlemeister, a third-year senator, shared a similar sentiment when voicing her support for the Task Force’s findings.

“This is not the end all be all,” she said. “This is just the beginning.”

The proposition was passed after a period of discourse between the senators.

Another proposition discussed by the senate was regarding the GSRC’s plan to potentially add free hygiene products for students, such as tampons, to the all-gender restrooms on campus. Spittlemeister presented the legislation to the senate.

The plan will include adding dispensers to over 100 bathrooms on campus and will cost approximately $40,000 to install. It is currently undetermined where funding for this project will come from and how much it will cost annually to provide the products.

The proposition was tabled until next week’s meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 24, in the Woodland Theater.

Johnson can be reached at [email protected]