Student Association discusses environmental impact study on Grandma’s Gateway

Retrieved+from+the+UWL+Student+Association+Facebook+Page.

Retrieved from the UWL Student Association Facebook Page.

Luis Acosta Jr., Student Government Reporter

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) met on Feb. 5, 2020 to discuss the “Pay-By-Phone” parking around the UWL campus, the cost Chartwell dining service must expend for lost or stolen materials, last week’s resolutions for a student-parent section in faculty syllabi, ensuring proportional numbers of representation within the student senate for each college, requests to conduct an environmental impact study on Grandma’s Gateway and the possibility for a weekly “spirit day” for UWL students. 

The meeting began with President Agterberg announcing to the SA that Canvas will now have the option for students to edit their preferred gender pronouns. The only pronouns that are allowed as of right now are he/him/his, she/her/hers, and they/them/their pronouns, with a system update for WINGS to include this option later on.  

Vice President Nielsen discussed the issue students have continuously been having around campus with last year’s “Pay-By-Phone” parking initiative implemented by the La Crosse board of public works. Nielsen said that when it was first rolled, students who resided on these selected streets would receive eligibility via parking pass to leave their vehicles on these streets overnightThe policy is terrible,” said Nielsen. “But this made it a bit more bearable.  

Nielsen found that pass eligibility depends on if the resident lives in a single-family home or duplex and if their driver’s license matches the street they live on in La Crosse. Without these, it would cost students $52 a year. “It kind of targets a specific population,” said Nielsen. Nielsen has been working over the past year in trying to have some streets with a large student population removed from the initiative. Local affairs director Bennett Thering will also be involved in advocating a change in this policy. 

Sen. Neader brought forward information upon his latest meeting with Chartwell dining service officials regarding the $20,000 allocated towards replacing lost or stolen cutlery from Whitney dining hall. The dining service will also be implementing “$5 Fridays,” where students without a dining plan will be able to dine in Whitney at a fraction of what it normally costs.   

The resolution recommending a student-parent section in faculty syllabi was brought to a vote. Agterberg called for the movement to be tabled until further notice, as she plans to meet with faculty senate chair and professor of English Natalie Eschenbaum in order to evaluate if this legislation could be implemented within University policy. Agterberg said, faculty senate’s perspective must be framed around this first in order to properly act on such an issue. 

SA brought forth a concern regarding the seats that resided and represent each Wednesday, with the resolution ensuring proper college proportionality rates within the SA. As percentages for students in certain colleges fluctuate over time, the SA said that it would be appropriate for the senate to represent these numbers and vow to pay special attention to the campus’ and the senate’s needs.  

A resolution to request an environmental impact study on Grandma’s Gateway was introduced. The Outdoor Recreation Alliance (ORA) wants to build mountain bike trails on the top and sides of Grandad Bluff, a move that has passed through La Crosse parks and recreation. Sen. Cayo said, in order for this to happen, an environmental impact study must be conducted in order to understand how the bluff may be able to withstand this new form of traffic over its terrain. “When asked if they have done studies about this issue, they said they have but are unable to release the information, which makes me feel like they haven’t,” said.  

“They have not factored in the possibility of land or rockslides, boulder dislocations, erosion, the increase of storm flooding. It seems unsafe to go forth with it,” said Cayo. Cayo mentioned how in 2016 a study was conducted by the city of La Crosse, which said that Grandad Bluff was “very unsafe” to have anything built on it recreationally, especially on Grandma’s Gateway, where these trails are proposed to be built, which would invade the residencies of people who live near the proposed trail.  

Cayo created an online petition that has around 600 signatures that will restrict this trail from happening. They brought this resolution to the senate to ensure that an environmental impact report to be created or to have the findings of the most recent study be released to the public. “Right now, it seems dangerous to be continued to move forward with building here, especially for those who live under this trail who are against it,” said Cayo.

Sen. Packard researched the ORA and discovered that they received a $15,000 grant for this development plan from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), along with the project being planned by the IMBA Trail Solutions System. “It sounds like this came in as a package,” said Packard.  

Sen. McReavy voiced her support against this trail, as well as her disdain for the La Crosse city council for neglecting the “needs and wills” of the citizens of La Crosse. “Their priorities should be of the people living in La Crosse and not of an international biking association,” said McReavy. The SA will vote on this next week.  

To boost campus pride and present UWL with united face for visiting families or potential students, the SA proposed the possibility of a “Maroon Monday.” Through a social media campaign, SA would advocate for students to support their school by wearing maroon-colored clothing each Monday. Possible incentives could come into play in order for students to get properly involved.  

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