Student Senate votes on exploitation of resident assistants on and off campus

Resolution is passed to support fair and equitable treatment of student housing employees

Avery Shanahan

More stories from Avery Shanahan

Police Blotter
November 24, 2021

Student Senate discussed visibility of students of color on campus as well as the mistreatment of Resident Assistants during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The meeting began on March 15 with a presentation from Kimera Way, the president of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation. Way updated the body on the Sonnentag Complex Project. The project includes building a replacement for Zorn Arena.

The construction will take place on Menomonie St. and the facility will include an event center and field house. Way said the university would lease the Sonnentag Complex in order to reduce student fees. 

Depending on the size of the facility the construction of the complex would cost an additional tuition fee of no more than $90 per student. 

Students will have the opportunity to vote on this referendum to cover the expenses on April 12, 2021 in the student senate elections. 

The Sonnentag presentation was followed by a presentation about the Blugold Commitment Differential Tuition Program. The presentation was given by Stephanie Jamelske, the Administrative Officer for Academic Affairs. 

Jamelske said differential tuition is an additional amount of funding provided to supplement services and programming for students beyond institutional activities funded by General Purpose and Program Revenue. 

The presentation includes a budget spending plan and request for financial aid for the Blugold Commitment program. 

“We would ask students to invest more so we could fund those high impact educational experiences and in exchange, students would be getting those better preparations when students graduate,” Jamelske said. 

The meeting then moved to an open forum where they heard from Kayde Langer, a fourth-year student. Langer discussed how white students on campus benefited from racism and racists incidents. 

They also requested the senate create new policies that would hold perpetrators of racist incidents responsible. This request was regarding the lack of response to the most recent racial incident of a student using a racial slur in the title of their Snapchat story.

The meeting then proceeded from open forum into weekly reports. Reports were given by President Anna Ziebell, Vice President Joe Murphy, Chief of Staff Grace Luloff and Residence Hall Association liaison, Sterling Kleist. 

The body then moved to vote on bill 64-B-10. The bill proposed the organization Culture Core to reallocate their unused travel expenses to their service and supplies expenses.

The bill was reintroduced by Trenton Phillipi, Commission Director of Finance.

The funding will be used for a keynote speaker and virtual workshops for the organization. The body voted to pass this piece of legislation with a vote of 24-0-2.

“Essentially we wanted to make sure students were able to have enriched experiences during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Phillipi said.

The ‘New Business’ portion of the meeting began with the introduction of two bills. Both of the proposed bills featured the Blugold Differential Tuition Funding discussed in the presentation given by Jamelske. 

64-B-11 and 64-B-12 were introduced by Jaden Mikoulinskii, the Commission Director of Academic Affairs.

64-B-11 included the budget breakdown of the funding proposal that is reviewed every five years. The funds will be distributed to research and faculty recruitment and retention. 

“In passing this bill we are passing a $10.6 million budget. Very cool that we have that power in the scope of the student senate,” Mikoulinskii said. 

 64-B-12 discusses adjusting the Blugold Commitment financial aid distribution process. This bill will be used to increase the accessibility of the high impact opportunities and financial aid to students, said Mikoulinskii .

Both of these bills will be reintroduced and voted on at next week’s meeting.

New business concluded with the passing of resolution 64-R-36. 

Franny Donovan, a member of the student body,  introduced this resolution as co-author of the legislation and member of the Housing Accountability Committee. The resolution calls for support for housing and residence life student employees. 

“Residents assistants have been assigned additional duties and responsibilities this year by Housing and Residence life, due to COVID-19,” Donovan said. “With these additional responsibilities there have been no compensation, pay, or overall reduction of existing responsibilities.” 

Donavan said that this piece of legislation has been presented to the body because current residents’ assistance do not feel comfortable talking to their superiors based on lack of response or backlash.

The body voted to pass this resolution to support these university employees with a vote of 22-0-2. 

Shanahan can be reached at [email protected].