Student Association discusses an email sent out that called for the “desegregation” of student senate


Student Association meeting on December 1. Photo taken by Julia Wille.

Julia Wille, Student Government Reporter

On Wednesday, December 1, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) met with various different student representatives, a guest speaker about the general education revision, and discussed two green fund grants. 

The meeting started with a large number of students coming to the open body forum in response to an email that many students received. The email was sent out by UWL College Republicans. It was in reaction to the statement released by the SA executive cabinet about the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict. The email called for the “desegregation” of the student senate and to have the multicultural student organization (MSO) seats removed based on the way that the senators are elected.  

In response to this email, there was a number of students who attended the meeting to address the concerns of having these seats removed. The first individual that came to speak was Jonathan Idarraga who is the President of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO). “Our senators run for office and elections and are elected by UWL students without restriction, LASO also has active members that are not Latin American,” he said. “They are fairly elected and anyone, any student on campus, can take part in this process that gets students elected.” 

Tyler Harris is a member of the Asian Student Organization (ASO). He also spoke about the email and said, “I am a white man with no background or heritage that would involve being classified as Asian or any other ethnicity, but I am still actively involved in ASO. I found this email quite aggravating. I hope for some to address to this email that was spread because this campus needs to endorse diversity.”  

The last person to speak was UWL student McKenna Godager. She did not attend the meeting as a representative of an MSO but as a student who received the email. She began her statement by reading an excerpt from the College Republicans’ email, which went, “You can clearly see the consequences of the big lie put out by left-wing radicals in the media and at universities. They’ll always scapegoat Christianity, whiteness, the traditional family, and our founding principles.”

Godager said, “They just managed to attack queer people and any POC [people of color] in one email. People are feeling attacked, and this is circulating to the greater student body now and people are feeling scared and attacked and very taken aback.”  

While the student senators were unable to directly respond to these student speakers, they did discuss the email and the number of students that came to speak later in the meeting. Student senator Yer Xiong expressed their opinion on the matter and said, “These MSO seats fight for an ideal in which we need to be inclusive. These are our lived experiences and I want this body to know that these seats are not up for debate. We are here because we are disproportionately affected by policies, and we are disproportionately affected by society.”

During this discussion, many senators expressed their concern about the email that was sent out and stated their support for the MSO senate seats. The SA said that this will be an ongoing discussion and they are working on coming up with an appropriate response to the situation.  

The SA also welcomed guest speaker and assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry Nadia Carmosini. She is working on the general education (GE) revision at UWL. The project to revise the general education program started in 2017 because of UWL’s strategic plan which included the reevaluation and revision of the general education program. The program hasn’t changed since 1995.  

Carmosini talked about the three main goals they are trying to achieve in reworking the program. The first goal is to “create a more flexible program, if students have more of a choice it may be more meaningful to them.” The second goal is to engage students earlier in their college careers to the purpose and value of general education. The last goal is to add high-impact practices which are teaching strategies that have been shown to have a positive impact on student learning and retention.  

When the process of changing this program started there was a core group of faculty that collected data from faculty, staff, and students to get an idea of what changes needed to occur. They also looked at similar schools’ programs to make a similar outline to their programs. In April of 2020, there was a final proposal submitted of what the new program would look like.  

The new proposed GE program has 41 credits and is broken down into three main categories with smaller subcategories. The three main categories are as follows: first college courses which will be a total of 13 credits, University Core which will be 16 credits total, and Integrative Global Perspectives which will have 12 total credits. Carmosini also said, “There will be a global emphasis credit that will be focused on preparing students to become responsible global citizens and thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.” 

This GE revision program is still in the process of being approved and will, at the earliest, likely be in effect until 2023.  

During this meeting, the SA swore in new senators, a new secretary, and approved a new student organization seat.  The rotating senate seat was appointed by the student organization committee and by the SA and will be a representative from the Political Science and Public Administration Association. The new SA secretary will be Emma Latus. The following senators were also sworn in at the meeting, for the College of Science and Health Madyson Emer, and in the At-Large seats are students Maddie Bain, Liberti Jonas-Jongebloed, and Molly Westcott.   

The SA also discussed the Green Fund grant proposals that require final approval from the SA. The Green Fund is an organization on campus that is dedicated to making UWL more sustainable. The Green Fund is funded through student fees, each semester students pay five dollars in their tuition that goes towards the green fund. The money is used to fund projects on campus that promote sustainability.  

Green Fund coordinator and student senator Andrew Erickson introduced the two Green Fund grants that came to the SA to be approved. The first grant is for a project in the Recreational Eagle Center (REC). The project would have the money go towards having LED lights installed in the Esports and outdoor connection areas of the Rec. The green fund is requesting $67,000 to upgrade the current lights, the REC will also be contributing $11,285 to this project. Regarding the environmental impact, Erickson said, “LED lights last a lot longer, so we are generating less waste, and they are more efficient and use less electricity, saving $4,000 a year.”

The second Green Fund grant that was brought to the SA was a project to fund a pilot program for the Drift Share bike share. This is a bike rack that will be added to campus that has bikes that students can buy for one dollar an hour to use, and they can take the bikes anywhere in La Crosse. There are already other bike stations in the La Crosse area that makes the bikes accessible to use and leave in different locations. The one-year pilot program is requesting $5,400 and La Crosse Municipal Transit has offered to donate the other $5,000 to this program. Erickson said, “Adding a bike share program at UWL will increase bike accessibility to students and faculty. It will also offer a way to work around the bike theft issue.” In terms of sustainability, this program will also help lower carbon emission levels by promoting the usage of bikes.  

Both proposals require the final approval of the SA before they can occur. The SA will vote on both proposals in the next meeting.