Student Senate

Josh Holness appointed ESM director at the last meeting of the semester

Maddie Kasper

More stories from Maddie Kasper


The last Student Senate meeting of the semester began at 6:02 p.m. on Monday.

Information Technology commission Director Joseph Dokken said there have been about 750 responses to the technology survey sent out on Thursday, Dec. 6, but the commission is hoping for closer to 1000 responses.

Director Hannah Kelly said the Intergovernmental Affairs commission is hiring an intern. Interested students can apply on Blugold Connect+.

Student Organization commission Director Bradford Heap said the Blugold Connect+ workshop went well and the commission is in the process of re-registering student organizations. 

Heap said student organizations that have not registered on Blugold Connect+ have conditional status and risk not being able to reapply for segregated fee funding or rent spaces on campus.

Student Office of Sustainability Senate Director Sydney McGuine said commission member and Senator Jake Hicks has been hired as the hydroponics intern.

According to McGuine, the commission is hiring a media intern for next semester and the application will be available on Blugold Connect+ in January. 

Director Zach Jacobson said the University Activities commission is hiring a late-night activities co-chair to help plan events on campus.

Finance commission Director Ben Johnson introduced resolution 66-B-9 to approve the non-allocable segregated fee for the 2024 fiscal year.

The proposed non-allocable segregated fee is $1,489.51, an increase of $78.56 or 5.88%, which Johnson said is a residual effect from COVID-19, inflation and student wage increases.

The resolution passed with a vote of 25-0-2.

Senator Brenna Strojinc introduced bill 66-B-9 to amend chapter III, section 3, part 10, line item 12 of the senate bylaws. The proposed amendment would remove the Intergovernmental Affairs commission requirement for the community walkthrough to be during the fall semester.

During the community walkthrough, Intergovernmental Affair commission members, campus police officers, Eau Claire Police Department officers and county officials walk through campus and the surrounding area to assess student safety.

Strojinc, an Intergovernmental Affairs commission member, said the walkthrough did not happen this fall because the scheduled date, Nov. 18, fell during turkey hunting and several police officers were not able to attend.

The bill will be voted on at the next meeting, which will not take place until after winter break.

President Rossellin Gaitán and Vice President Brett Farmer nominated Senator Josh Holness to fill the Equity in Student Matters senate directorship vacancy after Maddie Blong resigned at the previous meeting.

The fourth-year public health and pre-law student was a peer diversity intern for the Center for EDI Training, Development and Education, a resident assistant on the rainbow floor of Towers Hall and the senate personnel director during the 65th session.

Holness was also a member of the chancellor’s advisory review group to hire an interim assistant chancellor of EDI and new executive director of EDI engagement.

“I’ve been at UW-Eau Claire for some time, not just as a student but as a student with intersecting identities. I know the spaces I walk into are not made for me in mind. I understand that how I think and step through the world of higher education is not like seventy percent of my peers,” Holness said of their experience as a person of color at a predominately white institution.

Holness said their goals as ESM senate director are to:

  1. “Further develop EDI education by incorporating academic components in our certificates, our programming and our training by working with respective faculty and departments on restorative and justice-based practices.”
  2. “Build campus communities for marginalized identities through cultural celebrations, identity-based programming and expansion of safe spaces for underrepresented students.”
  3. “Implement trickle-up social justice standards to close the opportunity gap for marginalized students by addressing and being cognizant of what historical barriers have significantly put many identities at a disadvantage.”
  4. “Work closely with the ESM student director on what is working for our campus, what isn’t working, remaining an open ear but also a friendly face beyond just senate.”
  5. “Work with all of you (the senate) on what it means to be an ally beyond passive support –– that means inviting and asking you all to come to events to show your support, grow in your own knowledge of what students need and not be a voice for the voiceless but giving people the space to speak for themselves.”

The senate went into closed session to deliberate and then Holness was unanimously appointed ESM senate director.

“One of the things I appreciate a ton was the emphasis that they put on their willingness to listen,” Farmer said. “I appreciated that because they’re well aware that one of the biggest issues we’ve had in the EDI area on this campus is not willing to listen to students.”

Elianna Zimmerman and Meghan Wiercinski will be graduating this semester and resigned from their senator seats. Johnson was appointed to a director chair on the senate internal affairs committee.

The senate adjourned at 7:22 p.m. and will reconvene at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30 in the Dakota Ballroom.

Kasper can be reached at [email protected].