Student Association hosts Mayor Mitch Reynolds and Congressman Ron Kind


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

Andrew Bates, Student Government Reporter

On Wednesday, Feb. 16, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) met for the third time this semester and hosted two guest speakers. Mayor Mitch Reynolds attended the meeting and spoke with the SA about his plans for the La Crosse area and some of the projects he has been working on. Congressman Ron Kind later spoke about his role in representing Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional district as well as his decision to not run for another term after serving for 26 years. SA then went on to discuss two resolutions which were both passed. 

The first guest speaker was Mayor Mitch Reynolds, who spoke about his priorities in the La Crosse area. Mayor Reynolds said that La Crosse currently has a “crisis-level lack of housing,” and he went on to say that this is something that impacts UWL students and those living in or looking to live in the city. He said that the housing problem is currently at the top of the priority list, and he intends to work towards finding ways to develop affordable and quality housing in the area.   

Mayor Reynolds then discussed a specific project he’s working on in an effort to create more sustainable streams of energy in La Crosse. He told SA about the wastewater treatment plant on Isle La Plume in La Crosse, which is where all the sewage from nearby areas goes to be treated and disinfected before being released to the Mississippi River. Mayor Reynolds said that this plant is one of “the biggest electrical users in the city of La Crosse,” and they’re currently working on a $68 million dollar project to upgrade the plant and make it self-sustainable. “Through the digestion of the sewage, it will create methane, which will run generators, which will create electricity that will power the wastewater treatment plant,” said Mayor Reynolds. Moreover, this plant will produce excess energy, and this will be used to power a charging station for electric busses that the city intends to have running within the next month. “We’re looking at creative ways to create a more sustainable city and community,” said Mayor Reynolds. 

Mayor Reynolds went on to speak about homelessness in La Crosse, and he said that homelessness is on the rise and he has been searching for a long-term solution. He discussed some of his temporary approaches to the problem, which were winter shelters, temporary bridge housing solutions, and designated camping grounds, but he said that finding a permanent solution is very important. He said he’s been going through negotiations to try to secure a property that could solve this problem and provide people with a permanent housing solution.   

Congressman Ron Kind then joined the SA and spoke about his journey from growing up in La Crosse to becoming a congressman and some of the things he’s worked on through his tenure. He said that he takes his role in representing the universities in his district seriously, and said that one of his main focuses has been “access and affordability for higher education.” He talked about his support for need-based financial aid programs and said that the costs for higher education are something many students struggle with and it’s a problem that he once faced as a first-generation college student as well. 

Congressman Kind then told the SA that he does not plan to run for re-election in the upcoming congressional race. “Normally I would be here asking for support and for your vote in this upcoming election, we have midterms just a few months away in November, but I won’t this time because I’ve decided to step down after serving for 26 years,” he said.  

SA discussed a resolution on the Student University Fee Allocation Committee’s (SUFAC) allocable rate for the 2023 fiscal year for the second week. Some senators had concerns over unspent money and growing reserves, but this resolution will keep SUFAC’s allocable rate the same as the previous year. SA discusses and passed the resolution, keeping the rate at $40.47.  

SA discussed another resolution from the Student Services and Buildings Committee (SSB) to make bylaw changes. SA voted to bypass the 2-week rule on this resolution in order to allow the SSB to move forward on a change that opens two new student representative positions. There will be one position as a University Centers employee and one as a Rec Sports employee. The resolution also included bylaw changes such as the length of the officer’s terms, which is now one calendar year rather than one academic year. SA passed this resolution, and the SSB will enact the bylaw changes. 

SA is still searching for a candidate to serve as the State of Affairs Director on their executive cabinet. It is a paid role, and they’re accepting applications until Friday, Feb. 8. Moreover, the Green Fund is hiring a first or second-year sustainability coordinator, and the deadline to apply for this role is Feb. 20.