The “invisible” Student Senate

“Do you know what Student Senate is?” I asked my friend  Austin Long, a freshman from Chippewa Falls, this question and he couldn’t give me a straight answer about why Student Senate exists at UW-Eau Claire. According to the Student Senate official website, “The Student Senate represents the best interests of the students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire by authoring and passing legislation to better improve student life and the overall quality of the University.” If I did not purposely do a little bit of research about Student Senate, I wouldn’t dare to say that I know anything at all about the so-called student representatives for the school that I am attending.

I looked through the website and I got all the technical information about the senate. They allocate nearly $4 million in segregated fees to organized activities, and also have control over $7.5 million in differential tuition, and the over $1 million Information and Technology Budget. Aside from that, Student Senate also plans various events that happen throughout the year, such as House Day, Don’t Dump It Donate It Day, Take Back the Night, Turn Off Your TV Week, etc. It also oversees the approval of all new student organizations on campus and co-manages the Diversity Resource Center. Now that I know all about Student Senate, how about other students?

As I mentioned earlier, there are not many people that really know about Student Senate. I have been here for two semesters, and I couldn’t recall any experience or public announcement about the activities or roles of Student Senate as far as I know.  To be honest, I knew that there was Student Senate when I went to one of the restroom in Davies Center just outside the bookstore, and right above the toilet there was a poster that says something about Student Senate and the current issues that they are discussing. The point that I am trying to make is that I wish we knew more about Student Senate. If it is one of the most pivotal organizations in this school, how come we don’t know much about such an important organization that controls the administrative and learning activities at this university? Sure, they have open days where students can come in and hear about their meetings, but how do we know that they have open days? We don’t. Now you do because I’m telling you, and I know because I did research about it.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the cashier to ask about the breakdown for my spring semester tuition fees. As an international student, I found out that I have “the international student fees.” I asked why I have this fee. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but the cashier said it was the decision made by Student Senate to impose such a fee. I don’t see why I need to pay an extra fee just because I am an international student. Being an international student already costs me so much money as I paid double the amount of the tuition compared to the Wisconsinites.

I am eager to see more social connection from the Student Senate of UWEC to the students. I think it is vital for every student in this school to know exactly why Student Senate takes control of almost every fund that directed to students, that Student Senate is capable of improving this school by hearing our voices and suggestions. So I challenge Student Senate to “come out of its closet” and be out here, voice their existence and this time not through advertisements in the restrooms, nor unheard open days, and even not on the Student Senate’s official website that does not even appear on the main page of the UWEC website. After all, it’s for the better of the students for senate to be visible, not invisible.