Student Senate

Mascot plushies bill passes and abortion referendum resolution fails


The Student Senate meeting began at 6:02 p.m. on Monday when Vice President Brett Farmer gaveled the session in.

Interim associate Vice Chancellor for academic affairs and interim Dean of graduate students Mary Hoffman and communication and journalism senior lecturer Karen Morris gave a presentation about the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR).

Hoffman said NCUR will occur April 13-15 and students will have the opportunity to get involved as presenters and volunteers. More information is available on the NCUR website.

Intergovernmental Affairs Director Hannah Kelly said the Menard Center for Constitutional Studies will be having Alex Morey, the director of campus rights advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), as a guest speaker on Feb. 22.

Student Office of Sustainability Senate Director Sydney McGuine said the commission is hiring an intern to oversee the hydroponic gardens in The Hub. McGuine said students can apply for the paid internship on Blugold Connect+.

Academic Affairs Director Sahana Suresh said all of the counselors in counseling services are back from maternity leave meaning more sessions will be available. Suresh also said more counselors will be hired for the spring semester.

Mascot Coordinator Kyle May reintroduced bill 66-B-8 to use $4200 from the general operations fund to create custom Blu plushies. The $4200 would cover the $250 cost for a prototype and the remaining $3950 to buy 500 plushies.

“This is a unique way to promote the student mascot that is relevant to the culture and in a unique way to advertise the student mascot to prospective students and potentially, their families and surrounding communities,” May said.

The bill passed unanimously with a vote of 29-0-1.

Senator Matthew Lehner introduced resolution 66-R-7 calling on the Eau Claire County Board to add a non-binding referendum question on the April 2023 general election ballot about Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion law.

During the open forum, students Scout Feldman and Kirsten Thell and Eau Claire County Board District 14 Representative Judy Gatlin spoke in support of the resolution. 

Lehner said he wants to pass this resolution to show student support for the referendum Gatlin will be introducing to the Eau Claire County Board. The deadline for a referendum question to be submitted to the county clerk, after going through the proper checks and committees, is Dec. 20.

“Abortion, I have seen through my work in political advocacy and hearing from the students who are my constituents that I represent, is a top issue among them,” Lehner said. “I believe that this body needs to do more to talk about these issues on campus, that we need to stand for choice and democracy.”

Parliamentarian Thomas Miller made a motion to postpone the resolution indefinitely, meaning the resolution could not be reintroduced during this session. Miller said making motions, like this one, is part of his role as parliamentarian to uphold parliamentary procedure and the senate bylaws.

“An action one way or another on this vote on this resolution itself and its merits would have caused a backlash either way,” Miller said. “My original intent for making that motion was to essentially say that we feel any action on this isn’t going to be great for the body.”

The motion to postpone indefinitely failed with a vote of 11-17-1. Another motion was made to table the resolution until the next meeting, but that motion failed too.

Senator Josh Holness said the senate should not be afraid of voicing their opinions and the senate has a history of taking political stances, like when President Rossellin Gaitan and former Vice President Nick Johnson released a statement after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision.

The vote for the resolution tied 14-14-1. Farmer had to break the tie and voted the resolution down 14-15-0.

“I think just base-level this is just out of our purview. I just think in this specific instance, it’s not really something that the senate needs to have a stamp of approval on because, in all honesty, beyond the desk of the county board it will go nowhere else,” Farmer said. “It really just puts an effect on us and not an effect on the topic.”

Lehner released a statement Tuesday morning reflecting on the resolution, that statement can be read here.

“I am remarkably disappointed that this legislation did not pass, and remarkably disappointed that the Student Senate decided not to stand for freedom, choice and democracy,” Lehner said, “because that’s what this legislation was all about in the first place.”

Maddie Blong resigned as Equity in Student Matters senate director. Farmer said interested students can apply on Blugold Connect+ and it would be ideal to fill the directorship before the senate goes on recess over winterim.

The senate adjourned at 9:26 p.m. and will reconvene at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12 in the Dakota Ballroom. 

Kasper can be reached at [email protected].