Student Senate

Senate ends five-week-long legislation dry spell


The Student Senate meeting began at 6:01 p.m. on Monday in the Dakota Ballroom.

Shanan Galligan gave a presentation on Swink, a brand design firm based in Madison, Wisconsin, to discuss the branding of UW-Eau Claire. Galligan is a partner and one of the founders of Swink.

Galligan said Swink has worked with the UW System in the past, but their objective with UW-Eau Claire is to find “a confident, unified voice for one of Wisconsin’s true top-tier universities.”

According to Galligan, the project is still in the material evaluation phase, but the team at Swink wants to emphasize how UW-Eau Claire is “just right” for “Blugoldilocks.”

Stephanie Jamelske, a budget planner in the provost’s office, gave a presentation on the 2023-24 Blugold Commitment Differential spending plan.

Jamelske gave an overview of the history of Blugold Commitment Differential Tuition (BCDT) and explained the process for the 2023-24 budget.

Jamelske said BCDT projects get presented to and voted on by the Student Senate Blugold Commitment Differential Tuition committee, are approved by the Funding Analysis committee and then the BCDT package gets approved by the senate.

Bill 66-B-10: Approval of the Blugold Commitment Differential Tuition Funding Proposal Package for 2023-2024

Academic Affairs commission Director Sahana Suresh introduced bill 66-B-10 to approve the BCDT funding proposal package for 2023-24.

Jamelske said the expected BCDT revenue will be $10.17 million, based on the estimated collection of $9 million from the expected enrollment of about 8,168 full-time students and the remaining $1.17 million from the 2022-23 BCDT budget.

According to Jamelske, $4.8 million will go to continued programming, $2.27 million will be used for continuing provost initiatives and $3 million will be spent on financial assistance for students.

The BCDT package will be voted on at the next senate meeting.

Resolution 66-R-9: Calling on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to Add Voting to the List of Authorized Absences

Senator Matthew Lehner introduced resolution 66-R-9 to call on UW-Eau Claire to add voting as an authorized absence. 

The original idea for the resolution was to ask for a UW System-wide holiday on election days, but Lehner said at the suggestion of Intergovernmental Affairs commission director Hannah Kelly, he scaled it back to asking for voting as an excused absence. 

Lehner said he believes election day should be a recognized holiday and “everyone should be able to vote and access the ballot box with as little friction as possible.”

Resolution 66-R-9 passed unanimously with a vote of 31-0-2.

Resolution 66-R-10: Call for Mental Health & Wellness Days

Equity in Student Matters commission Senate Director Josh Holness introduced resolution 66-R-10 to call on UW-Eau Claire to create mental health and wellness days.

Suresh was one of the authors of the bill and said the idea was suggested to her during the fall semester. She brought the idea to Dean of Students Gregory Heinselman and Provost Patricia Kleine but was shut down at first.

Holness said the university needs to invest in students’ mental health more and reduce the stress of being a full- or part-time student.

“We’re not asking for days off because we’re lazy, we’re asking off because we’re tired and shouldn’t have to wait until the middle of the semester for a break,” Holness said.

Parliamentarian Thomas Miller made a motion to replace “must” in lines 28 and 35 with “is strongly urged to” to remove action-coded language from the resolution.

Holness said the authors of the resolution were intentional with their word change and were not willing to make that change.

Miller said resolutions are non-binding legislation and the authors should be careful about using language that has binding connotations or making blanket demands to the administration.

Miller’s motion failed with a vote of 11-19-2 and the language in lines 28 and 35 remained the same.

President Rossellin Gaitán said the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic had caused an increased need for mental health breaks, and students have continuously asked the university for this.

“It’s not like it was through any sort of malice. We’ve written legislation with more intense writing and it’s because it fits, it was appropriate for the circumstances,” Gaitán said. “I think there’s a time and a place and every situation is different, but you cannot tell students how to feel and if they feel strongly about it, they deserve to write about it in a strong manner.”

Senator Jake Hicks and University Activities commission Director Zach Jacobson brought up concerns about the logistical issues of removing instruction days from the academic calendar.

Heinselman said the amount of scheduled instruction days is based on the minimum amount of time university accreditors require for the university to remain accredited. 

Holness made a motion to amend lines 32-33 to say “be it further resolved, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has the capacity to develop a plan to adjust the academic calendar for the inclusion of mental health and/or a wellness weekend for both the fall and spring semester.”

Holness’s motion passed unanimously with a vote of 31-0-2.

Miller made a motion to send the bill back to the Academic Affairs commission for further conversation and to gather more information.

Suresh said sending the bill back to commission will not make a difference and the authors have already done their due diligence by working with the Academic Affairs and Equity in Student Matters commissions and also meeting with the provost and dean of students.

Lehner had a previous resolution sent to commission, but said that was a different situation. His resolution did not go through a commission before being introduced to the senate, but resolution 66-R-10 was authored by two commission directors and worked on by both of their commissions.

Kelly called “the question” to end the debate and vote on the tabling motion. Kelly’s motion passed with a vote of 24-6-2.

Miller’s motion to table the resolution and send it to the Academic Affairs commission failed with a vote of 8-22-2.

Jacobson made a motion to add “while fulfilling accrediting requirements through the Higher Learning commission” to make sure the university’s accreditation is not affected.

Jacobson’s motion passed unanimously with a vote of 31-0-2.

Resolution 66-R-10 passed unanimously with a vote of 31-0-2.

“It was a difficult night to be honest, just because there was a lot of disagreement but I’m really happy with how it ended,” Suresh said.

Miller made a motion to adjourn the meeting and leave outstanding new legislation for the next meeting, but the motion failed with a vote of 1-30-2.

Resolution 66-R-11: Call for an Academic EDI Certificate

Holness introduced resolution 66-R-11 to call on UW-Eau Claire to add an academic Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) certificate. 

According to Holness, the university only offers a co-curricular EDI certificate based on students attending workshops and programming, but they have the “ability and capacity to provide students with an academic-based EDI certificate.”

Resolution 66-R-11 passed with a vote of 30-1-2.

Senator Mei Bean withdrew bill 66-B-11 to place food and clothing donation bills in residence halls. 

Senator Sam Consiglio withdrew resolution 66-R-12 to call on UW-Eau Claire to notify students about the security breach at AudienceView, the third-party system that handles ticketing for the university.

Vice President Brett Farmer said bill 66-B-11 and resolution 66-R-12 were withdrawn by the authors for more work in commission.

Suresh was appointed and student Elizabeth TenBarge was nominated to the Student Senate Elections committee. Holness was appointed to the College of Arts and Sciences Curriculum committee. Jacobson was appointed to the College of Education Science curriculum committee.

Kelly said the Intergovernmental Affairs commission will be tabling with the League of Women Voters from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29 in Davies Student Center and tabling with the Communications commission for Motivation Monday on Monday, April 3 outside Davies.

Senator Brenna Strojinc said she will meet with the director of the Services for Students with Disabilities to discuss accessibility needs after the demolition of the residence halls on Lower Campus.

The senate adjourned at 10:39 p.m. and will reconvene at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 27 in the Dakota Ballroom after spring break.

Kasper can be reached at [email protected].