Student Association welcomes guest speaker Dan Kapanke to discuss the student loan debt and COVID-19


Student Association logo. Image obtained from the UWL Student Association Facebook Page.

Morgan Hose, Student Government Reporter

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) met virtually with Dan Kapanke, a Wisconsin Senator candidate, to discuss topics on the student loan debt, COVID-19, and sustainability. Other topics of the night included the new voting buddy service and unity room.

Dan Kapanke is an alumnus of UWL and served as a Republican member of the Wisconsin Senate from 2005 until 2011. He is now running against Brad Pfaff for the 2020 senate election for District 32.

College of Science and Health senator Jared Zwettler asked Kapanke what he plans to do about the student loan debt crisis. “As I was reviewing your campaign website, I noticed that you didn’t have a spot under main issues for education. My question for you is what would you do to help alleviate the student loan debt crisis?” Kapanke mentions he would be in favor for continuing a tuition freeze following Gov. Scott Walker’s decision in 2013. “As far as the debt is concerned, I went to college and I worked two jobs and graduated with some debt, but worked it off over a 10-year period. There is no easy answer to that. I would just encourage students to take courses that’ll get you a good job after graduating and keep the loans as low as you can.”

The State Affairs director Grant Mathu asked, “What would you do over the next four years to improve the current state of education specifically from the perspective of educators?” Kapanke said. “I have talked to many educators and they’re doing very well. Their concern is for COVID-19 and getting students back in the classroom.”

K.C. Cayo, the senator of the Pride Center, asked, “What would your plan be to combat COVID-19 should you get this seat in office?” Kapanke responded, “My plan would be to protect those that our vulnerable, as much as we possibly can, and for the rest of us who our healthy, we need to get on to some kind of normalcy. The rest of us that are healthy need to get on with our lives.”

College of Science and Health senator William Schauberger asked, “How can we resort to normalcy when a bunch of people don’t even know they have it? What exactly is your plan to protect vulnerable people?” Kapanke responded, “There is a fact that the lockdown of this country has caused a drastic increase in suicides, domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and a huge mental strain on younger kids not in school. The cure is almost worse than the virus right now. We have to balance that. I don’t think anybody has the answer, but I don’t think the answer is we lock down this country.”

Schauberger responded, “It doesn’t seem like an economic problem at all, the federal government obviously has no problem adding to its debt already concerning the current president. It doesn’t seem like the government has any problem taking out debt in order to solve issues.”

Kapanke said, “As much as possible, I say we return to normal and keep people working so we have the funds available to take care of the people who need taking care of.”

Andrew Ericson, a senator within the College of Science and Health, asked, “There are bars in La Crosse that have not been enforcing social distancing and masks and are getting packed on the weekends, how will you address this issue with bars and how do you justify your stance on this issue?”

Kapanke said, “If people feel more comfortable wearing a mask, then they should wear a mask.” He mentions he is not in favor of a state-wide mask mandate. “Restaurant and bars are not going to make it at 25% capacity, somebody is choosing them to be the fall people here,” said Kapanke. “If you feel uncomfortable going into a restaurant, don’t go, just stay home. Order your groceries online. To unfairly target a certain sector of our society, our business, that’s not right.”

Other topics of the night were about the Voting Buddy Service that Student Association created. It will start on election day from open to close of the polls. Students can sign up for a voting buddy that will wait in line with you, walk you to and from the polls, and make sure you feel safe at the polls. “We want to make sure everyone feels safe voting at the polls,” said SA President Cate Wiza.

There will be a unity room from Nov. 3, to Nov. 11, in the Hall of Nations in Centennial Hall. The goal of it is to be a stress-free zone for students to get away from the election. There will be crafts, packaged snacks, and puzzles there to provide a safe space for students to receive stress relief surrounding the election. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 3 then 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 to Nov. 11.

All classes on Nov. 3 will be moved to asynchronous in order to provide students with the flexibility to be able to go vote.