Student senator resigns after disagreements with leadership

Following a denial to remove titles from a bill, Senator Alyssa Monson resigned

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A senator resigned last week following disagreements with Student Senate leadership, bylaws and concerns over elitism from within the body. 

Alyssa Monson, a fourth-year Spanish and sociology student, resigned from the Senate on Tuesday, Nov. 24 after she was denied edits to a resolution she authored. 

Monson, along with Senator Anna Wendorff, authored Bill 64-R-11, intended to formally support the name-change of “Thanksgiving Break” to “Fall Break.”

“The purpose of the resolution was to acknowledge the genocide, racism and the complete dismissal of Native Americans via colonization and therefore the celebration of Thanksgiving rather than fall break,” Wendorff said.

The week prior, a bill was put forth and the author, Nikolaus Spittlemeister, wished to remove his title from the legislation, arguing it was elitist to have titles when he is a student, like everyone else on campus. The senate voted 13-11 to keep titles on the legislation.

“We must change the bylaws so that students without any title may author legislation for students in collaboration with elected officials or volunteers,” Wendorff said. “We must also do something about the hierarchy of information at UWEC.”

Monson said although the bylaws of the Senate state all authors of legislation must be members of a commission, they do not specify whether or not titles must be listed on the resolutions themselves.

When Monson and Wendorff’s bill was put forward, the two attempted to remove their titles as well, though their move was rejected and they withdrew the bill.

“Upon amending to remove our titles, Anna Ziebell, student body president, told us that because the senate body had voted in favor of the usage of titles, we would not acknowledge or discuss this amendment,” Monson said. “I was not given an opportunity to explain my amendment and why the authors want to remove their titles

Following last week’s meeting, Monson received an email from President Ziebell, which expressed disappointment in her actions. 

“While I understand the issue that was debated last week regarding titles is still present in individuals’ minds, using this specific legislation to prove a moot point was disrespectful,” Ziebell said. “This is not the time, nor the place to disenfranchise millions of Indigenous People’s lived experiences and the violent and intricate histories that those nations have endured. I am severely disappointed and disgusted by these actions.”

Monson said she formally apologized over the withdrawal of the bill because it silenced voices in support of her bill. However, she also said she realized the Senate favored elitism. 

“During last week’s meeting, I realized that Student Senate and its executive board favor elitism and when I tried to stand against that, my voice was silenced,” Monson said. 

President Ziebell said until changes are made to the Senate bylaws, titles must stay in legislation. 

“Similarly to how the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution on cases, Student Senate must interpret and follow our own Constitution and Bylaws,” Ziebell said.

Ziebell also defended the use of titles on legislation, saying they are earned and deserved to be recognized.

“It would be unfair, for example, to ask a professor, who has a doctorate and worked very hard to establish themselves at a university, to remove their titles from their work,” Ziebell said. 

She and many others were fully in support of 64-R-11 and did not expect it to be withdrawn, Ziebell said.

64-R-11 was reintroduced as 64-R-12 on Monday, Nov. 30 at that night’s meeting and was passed by the body with a vote of 26-0-3. 

Kristof can be reached at [email protected]