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Jill Billings and UWL’s Pride Center visits Student Senate


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Representative Jill Billings was the first of two guest speakers to speak to the Senate on Wednesday, April 4. Billings began by giving an overview of her work in the Assembly in this session since the Legislature has now adjourned.  

One of Representative Billings’ points of discussion was the creation of a violence prevention specialist position for UW System campuses – an idea which has been encouraged by Student Senate members. Billings explained that there was resistance from those in the Assembly who were concerned with having the specialist hired through the university system because it would give the University power over said individuals as well as require them to be a mandatory reporter. 

In response to this, President Jacob Schimmel explained that contracting out a violence prevention specialist would still be more beneficial than not having one at all.  

Schimmel also stated that UWL appears be one of the most responsive colleges within the UW System regarding violence prevention; therefore, the push for this position within the UW System is more of an advocacy for those colleges that do not have these services in place. 

Billings took note of this and shared her involvement in other college-related legislation – including restoring shared governance and tenure to faculty as well as requiring the governor to consider the opinions of Student Senates when picking the student seat in the Board of Regents. 

When asked how she builds relationships with those on “the other side of the aisle,” Billings admitted that she attempts to befriend those in the Assembly regardless of their political stance. She stated that when you know someone on a personal level, you’re going to be more mindful in how you talk to them in the Assembly. 

A panel from the UWL Pride Center also came in to talk to Student Senate about the proper knowledge necessary in representing the LGBT+ community on campus as well as in the community.  

The panel addressed the acronym LGBTQQIAAP+2S. This acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual, agender, and any other gender and orientation related identities.  

The panel explained that the 2S represents Native American individuals who identify as having two spirits – both masculine and feminine. They clarified, though, that this term can only be used by Native American people, as it is a culturally-centered term. 

Questions about how to be an effective ally to the LGBT+ community were met with advice such as “creating a world [that] LGBT+ people aren’t afraid to exist in” and to “bring forth the values of diversity” at UWL. 

One of the speakers of the panel discussed how essential this acceptance is by sharing statistical data about the transgender community, stating that the transgender community has a 41% suicide rate. However, for transgender individuals who are in supportive environments and communities, the suicide rate is comparable with their cisgender peers. 

The panel also talked to Senators about the services that UWL’s Pride Center offers including peer educators, resources (books and films) for allies, and a safe place for individuals in the LGBT+ community.  

In closing, the panel cautioned Senators that doing nothing to help those in the LGBT+ community as well as other minority communities is not a neutral choice and that LGBT+ individuals are counting on their Senators to represent them in meaningful ways. 

The Pride Center will be hosting Pride Prom on April 7 from 8 to 11 pm. The event is free, and all are welcome to attend. 

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Jill Billings and UWL’s Pride Center visits Student Senate