On Wednesday, Nov. 10, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) invited guest speakers Provost Betsy Morgan and Chief of Police Allen Hill. They also discussed safety on campus and the appointment of a new senate seat.
The first guest speaker to talk to the SA was UWL Provost Betsy Morgan. As provost, Morgan oversees all the academic affairs on campus. She first talked about enrollment at UWL and the impact of COVID-19 and the budget. Morgan said that COVID-19 has not had a large impact on the budget because of the federal funding they received that had to go specifically towards COVID-19 needs. She said that the biggest impact on the budget is the lack of a tuition increase. The UW System has a tuition freeze in place to stop tuition prices from rising.
The discussion of tuition led to Morgan discussing the concept of the enrollment cliff. The enrollment cliff is an argument that the number of high school graduates will drop significantly in a few years. This could lead to fewer individuals enrolling in college. If enrollment numbers drop, UWL will run into budgeting issues because UWL is a tuition reliant school. Morgan said, “What we have going for us is that La Crosse is a really strong school so the enrollment cliff might be a bigger issue for the state at large, but we are still worried about it.”
The SA also asked Provost Morgan about the admissions requirement for standardized testing. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started the UW system has waived the standardized test, the ACT, requirement on applications. Morgan said that this decision to continue making the inclusion of an ACT score will be heavily reliant on the UW system decision. Morgan said, “I would bet that they would probably stay optional in the future.”
The next guest speaker was UWL Chief of Police Allen Hill. He came to speak to the SA about safety concerns on campus. He addressed questions regarding the recent sexual assault on campus. He said, “He [the sexual assailant] was arrested and charged and has been released on bond.” Hill said that they are still conducting interviews, but they will send everything to the district attorney’s office and then the court system will handle it from there.
Some student senators expressed concern over a rumor that the individual was still on campus. In response to this, Hill said, “The perpetrator is not on campus, he was picked up by his father and has no intention of coming back to campus.”
The SA then discussed safety options on campus in response to this event and regard to overall safety. Hill said that the campus police are emphasizing patrols in specific areas on campus. Chief Hill also mentioned that the university is starting conversations back up about implementing cameras on campus. This was a discussion the university had in 2017 and is now starting to be worked on again. Hill said he is in support of cameras but said, “Unfortunately cameras and lights don’t prevent crimes, but they do help us solve them.” UWL also still has the Blue Light system in place which is set up on campus that has a blue light and direct access to calling the emergency number.
The SA also talked with Chief Hill about the issue of bike theft on campus. At UWL there are many bikes that et stolen from campus. The police station is working with the green fund to purchase U-Locks for bikes on campus to help prevent theft. Hill also said that he encourages students to register their bikes with the city so that the serial number is in the system. They need the serial number to be able to track the bike down if it is stolen.
Chief Hill said, The police department is a resource for you, we are good listeners. If it’s three in the morning and you have no one to talk to, there is an officer that will talk to you.” He wanted to let students know that the police department can be a resource to students and legal action doesn’t have to always be taken if someone comes to talk to them.
Next, the SA passed a resolution to instate new senators to the SA. There was UWL student Sarah Remiker to the college of science and health position and one of the graduate student seats was appointed to Heidi Pullen.
The next resolution the SA discussed was the resolution in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence. This is a resolution that was introduced by senators Cassie Ziegler and Ryan Sperling that states the support of the SA to sexual violence victims. The resolution encourages the university’s continued efforts to support survivors in the La Crosse community and recommends that UWL should provide even more assistance for survivors as well as work to prevent further incidents. Sperling said, “This will show UW administration that this is something that students really care about and is something that should be prioritized in the future budget.”
Lastly, the SA also discussed the appointment of the rotating senate seat. This senate seat is typically held by the Student Organization Committee, but this year is going to be a rotating position that any student organization can fill the seat. The Student Organization Committee originally recommended the Political Science and Public Administration Association. After a debate on the resolution, it was decided that there was not enough awareness of student organizations that this position was available. They sent the recommendation back and asked that more groups be made aware of the availability and allowed to apply.