The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Senate passes IGA Legislative Priority Summary

IGA prioritizes supporting EDI on campus
Photo by Maddie Kasper
Student Senate, senate, student senator, senator, Intergovernmental Affairs Commission, IGA, student government, Legislative Priority Summary, LPS, EDI, equity diversity and inclusion, equity, diversity, inclusion, 67th session

At Monday’s meeting, the Student Senate unanimously passed the Intergovernmental Affairs Commission’s Fall 2023 Legislative Priority Summary (LPS).

The LPS is a list created by the IGA Commission every year to establish initiatives they want to accomplish during the session.

Mei Bean, IGA Commission director and second-year sociology and political science student, introduced resolution 67-R-1: In Support of the Fall 2023 Legislative Priority Summary.

Bean said the LPS began as a list of initiatives that commission members cared about and then Bean met with Jake Wrasse, the legislative and community relations liaison within the Chancellor’s Office.

Story continues below advertisement

The voting members of the IGA Commission unanimously approved the LPS with a vote of 9-0-0 before it was introduced to the full senate body. 

The IGA Commission voting members are Bean, Equity in Student Matters Commission Senate Director Emma Velazquez, Personnel Director Lily Eisele, interns Evan Frawley and Phoebe Pilon, senators Ally Etzler, Hannah Kelly, Matthew Lehner and Brenna Strojinc and student Michael Hansen.

Supporting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) on campus is listed first on the LPS and Bean said this was an intentional choice by the commission after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he would block UW System pay raises for employees if EDI offices and employees are not cut.

“We’ve all seen lately the blatant attacks on EDI offices throughout the UW System and constant policy changes surrounding that,” Bean said. “I think it’s very important that we take a stand, especially as a government-focused commission to speak out for our students.”

Bean said it was “backhanded” for Vos to withhold the pay raises for employees in the UW System.

“I believe that all of the faculty throughout the UW System deserve more compensation, especially as we’re seeing tuition increases across the system. That should be going to our professors and the staff and faculty,” Bean said.

Bean said there are differing opinions between the UW System and state representatives about what EDI means and that the IGA commission will be planning lobbying trips to the Wisconsin State Assembly and Wisconsin State Senate to let representatives know students’ concerns about cutting EDI offices.

The IGA Commission is a nonpartisan organization and Bean said there are many issues and topics she wishes the commission could cover but can’t because of the current political polarization in the United States.

“It’s hard to take a stance (as IGA director) on something that has become political, even though it should not be, especially with EDI, seeing as it gives resources to students,” Bean said. “Resources for students is not and should never be political.”

Student Body President Brett Farmer, a fourth-year public relations student, said it would be a “disservice to our students” if EDI was not highlighted in this session’s LPS.

“The biggest issue on students’ minds that are aware of politics and what’s happening in the state legislature right now is the way that EDI is being attacked,” Farmer said.

Farmer said he and Sam Consiglio, vice president and third-year geospatial analysis student, have brought students’ concerns about cutting EDI offices to Chancellor James Schmidt, Multicultural Student Services and the Division of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion within Administration.

Lehner, an IGA Commission member and a third-year political science student, said it is important for EDI to be put first after “the shenanigans that happened with the budget debates and everything that happened over the summer in the legislature.”

“What we are seeing is a systematic attempt to push back on a changing and more accepting society,” Lehner said. “The Republicans unfortunately don’t like that the society is getting that way and so they’re doing everything they can try to do in our state’s universities where young minds are formed.”

Bean said this session’s priorities do not include any initiatives related to dining because there is already a dining committee and the IGA Commission wanted to avoid redundancies.

A new addition to this LPS is prioritizing off-campus students instead of only focusing on on-campus students, according to Bean.

“I also added off-campus students as a priority on the LPS this year, which I think is very important because we’re going to do events such as House Day and really focus on off-campus living and making housing more accessible to students and all of the things that encompass living as a student,” Bean said.

Bean said the IGA Commission will host House Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5 the Campus Mall for students to meet with housing administration, landlords and property management companies to learn more about living off-campus.

Compared to the LPS’s of the 65th and 66th sessions, Consiglio said this one is more reflective of the current IGA Commission’s initiatives and goals.

“I think this one does a good job of capturing the passions of IGA this year,” Consiglio said. “I know in the past, it’s always been you take whatever was given to you and you just add on to it and it doesn’t necessarily reflect all of the passions of the current IGA commission.”

Farmer said the IGA Commission was realistic about what they could accomplish during the 67th session when writing their LPS.

Campus initiatives on the LPS also include mobilizing the student vote, on-campus resources, sustainable voting and increasing student involvement.

Within the City of Eau Claire, Bean said the IGA commission wants to maintain community relations, get students involved with city agencies, educate students on city ordinances and connect with indigenous communities.

“I think it’s very important that we understand the land that we occupy in a more sacred and more progressive way than just a blanket land acknowledgment statement that we say before meetings or that we have in our email signatures,” Bean said.

Bean said the IGA Commission has big plans for the session and she is excited to work on initiatives in the LPS.

“I’m very excited to see what all my commission members do this year,” Bean said. “I think that they all have already put in great input during our meetings and I see this commission going very, very far this year.”

Kasper can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *