On Wednesday, Oct. 6, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) met to discuss the renaming of buildings on campus as well as the vaccination rate at UWL. At the beginning of the meeting, the senate swore in two new senators to the Hmong Organization Promoting Education (HOPE) and Asian Student Organization (ASO) seats.
They also discussed an upcoming event called S’mores with Senators. This is an event where constituents can ask questions and connect to senators. It will take place on Monday, Oct. 18 from 4:30-8:30 p.m. and s’mores will be provided.
Director of University Centers Kyle Burke said, “The vaccination campaign is going very well.” The current vaccination rate at UWL is at 76.8% of students who have reported being fully vaccinated. This means that they will be drawing the first round of scholarships. Seven students will be selected to receive $750 scholarships, which will take place Friday, Oct. 8th.
Student organization grants are now open which means that student organizations can apply to receive a grant to use for events and other necessities in an organization. The first round of grant applications closes on Friday, Oct. 8th, but there will still be money left to apply after that date.
SA also brought a new resolution to support reinstating the condiment dispensers. The campus will be bringing back the condiment dispensers in the Union by Monday, Oct. 11. They will be sanitized every 15 minutes to keep individuals safe. There will also be gloves and sanitizer next to the dispensers so people can use those as needed as well.
SA then moved into a discussion about changing the building name of the Student Union and the Center for Fine Arts. Chancellor Joe Gow wants to change the Student Union to the Lillian Smith Davenport Student Union. Lillian Davenport was an activist and the first African-American woman to earn a degree from UWL.
Gow also wants to change the Center for Fine Arts to the Truman Lowe Center of Fine Arts. Truman Lowe was an Indigenous artist who graduated from UWL and is well known in the La Crosse community. The decision to change the name will have to go through the Board of Regents, but Gow wanted student input. He is also considering bringing it up for a referendum to get students’ opinions.
People have reached out to the wife and daughter of Truman Lowe and they are excited about the change. They have been trying to reach out to any family of Lillian Davenport, but it is still unclear if there are any living relatives. Joe Gow said he came up with the idea after UW-Madison changed the name of one of their buildings.
Gow’s remarks from the welcome and opening remarks are available online. Burke said, “This is one part of his [Chancellor Gow] commitment to diversity around the institution so there are some new scholarships coming up that are also part of this plan.”
The process of naming a building is in the end up to the Board of Regents. Most of the buildings on campus that are named after individuals are based on the amount of money that an individual or group contributes. SA President Jared Zwettler said, “There is typically a specific dollar amount that the Board of Regents would like to see that goes along with the naming of a building, that’s system policy.”
There would be costs for changing the signage on the building but at this point in the planning, the administration does not know where the funding will be coming from or how much funding will be needed.
SA discussed the idea of getting Minority Student Organizations involved in the conversation as well as the SA to get a better understanding of the impact the name change could have on campus and influencing diversity.
This will be an ongoing discussion in the SA and on campus throughout the year as more individuals have input and the plan is continued to be worked on.