Student Association discusses safety on campus and expresses support for survivors of sexual assault

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Image obtained from the UWL Student Association Facebook Page.

Julia Wille, Student Government Reporter

Content Warning: Discussions of sexual assault

On Wednesday, Nov. 3  University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) met to discuss the election results and was also joined by two guest speakers. The SA discussed many new resolutions and discussion points during the meeting.

UWL Vice-Chancellor of student affairs Vitaliano Figueroa came to speak to SA to give an update on the efforts of student affairs and go over a summary of the student affairs annual report. In one week, the student affairs annual report will be available for students to view. This report will show how the many groups of student affairs are doing as well as donations they are receiving and how the staff is doing.  

UWL Dean of Students Kara Ostlund also came to speak to the SA and discussed mental health incentives on campus. “We know this has been a very difficult year for our students, COVID-19 has impacted you all in a way that we didn’t and couldn’t have imagined back in 2020. It also has impacted our staff and faculty,” she said. She introduced a new program called Cognito that UWL will soon implement for students. It is online software that provides training to students on mental health.

It will be specifically aimed at assisting students in identifying what is going on with their mental health or their friends and how to help friends with their struggles. It will also help students learn how to engage in sensitive mental health dialogue with others. It will also be a tool that faculty and staff can use that will help them learn how to identify and help students in distress. Ostlund said that this is going to be an ongoing process to figure out the best way to implement it on campus. “We want student input to help us address this the best we can,” she said. 

SA also approved the recent results of the student election. The election took place on Oct. 27 and was for the freshman and graduate senate seats. The results were confirmed by the election commission on Oct. 28.  The two freshman senators will be Anastasia Grochowski and Mackenzie Caya and they were both sworn into office. The results of the graduate student seats are still undetermined and there will be more information in the next few days. The SA Constitutional Amendment Referendum was also voted on and passed and approved in the resolution. All of the election data will be posted on the SA website.  

The next resolution brought forward was in support of survivors of sexual violence. In the resolution, it was stated that in their undergraduate degree 26.4% of females, 6.8% of males, and nearly 50% of all transgender and nonbinary individuals will experience some form of sexual violence. Student senator and author of this resolution Cassie Ziegler said, “Since the beginning of the fall semester there have been two UWL alerts concerning sexual violence and there are many more stories that go unheard. Rightfully a lot of students are very upset about these events, and I wanted to present this resolution to let everyone know that we are and always will be in support of any and all survivors of sexual violence, you are not alone.” This resolution will be voted on in the next meeting.  

The final resolution that was discussed by the SA was a resolution to approve the Women of Color Scholarship Ad Hoc Committee for 2021-22. The Women of Color Scholarship (WOC) was created in the 2017-18 school year by the SA to help retain the number of women of color on campus. The resolution is to help create a committee that will help the SA Inclusivity Director fundraise the $3000 for the scholarship.  

Next, the SA moved into a discussion about adding security cameras on campus. This discussion was brought up to address the possibility of it decreasing violence on campus. Many senators came forward and said that they had heard from many students that they were concerned about the lack of security cameras. Director of University Centers Kyle Burke said that it was a project that was initially explored in 2017. He said that there are a lot of research and technical aspects that go into the project including funding issues. Burke also said, “I have heard that they are starting up the conversation again.” Many senators also voiced their concern for overall safety on campus without cameras being in place.  

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