Student Association meets with School of Education Dean Marcie Wycoff-Horn to address concerns raised by education students


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

Andrew Bates, Student Government Reporter

On Wednesday, March 23, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) met with multiple guest speakers who covered a range of topics, including racial equity, admissions and recruitment, and the concerns expressed by some School of Education (SOE) students.  

Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion Barbara Stewart joined SA to discuss UWL’s Policy Group on Race and what they’re doing to break down racial barriers. This group makes recommendations to alter or propose new policies with the aim of creating a more equitable experience for students, faculty, and staff of color. According to their site, the group’s goal is “to improve our campus and eliminate unjust obstacles for people of color.” 

“The group was commissioned by Chancellor Gow in reaction to some of our national tragedies–George Floyd and many others–to look at what we’re doing here around UWL that impacts the barrier around race,” said Stewart. 

Vice Chancellor Stewart went on to take questions from senators, and further explain her role and what the policy group is working on. According to Stewart, they currently have fourteen staff and faculty members, and she said that they’re searching for a new student representative. 

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Admissions & Recruitment Corey Sjoquist gave a presentation on admissions and recruitment at the meeting. He told SA of an overview of the Admissions Office and all of their roles, then went into some statistics from the previous year of admissions. 

Sjoquist also talked about the START program, which first-year students are required to attend in order to learn information about attending UWL and sign up for their first semester of classes with the help of academic advisors.  

The office is responsible for recruiting a range of student populations from across the country, and recruitment efforts are being expanded internationally in countries such as China, South Korea, Indonesia, and more.  

For new freshman admissions, UWL representatives attended sixty-six in-person and virtual college fairs in fall 2021, yet intended to attend ninety-two this semester. Also, UWL representatives made one hundred forty in-person high school visits in fall 2021. 

Assistant Vice Chancellor Sjoquist then spoke about UWL’s multicultural recruitment efforts. “We now have four staff in the admissions office with the primary responsibility and focus of multicultural recruitment. We were certainly nowhere close to that a few years ago,” said Sjoquist. 

University Centers Director Kyle Burke addressed SA and spoke about the impending construction of a new fire station. “You will notice now that there have been fences put up on the Northwest side of campus. That is for the new fire station,” said Director Burke. There is a ground-breaking ceremony on April 11 at 4 p.m. before construction begins. 

School of Education Dean Marcie Wycoff-Horn and Interim Associate Dean Adrienne Loh spoke at the meeting. They gave a presentation in response to the concerns expressed by SOE students over the past few weeks. They addressed the resolution that the SOE presented to SA and addressed concerns such as the timeline to graduate, transportation and placement, the iPad program, and edTPA 

Dean Wycoff-Horn said that the SOE must abide by the rules laid out by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in the Wisconsin Teacher Preparation law. SOE only has a fifty-mile radius to place students in K-12 classrooms, and every education student is required by law to have these field and student teaching experiences. 

SOE students previously raised concerns over being placed into schools, equity-related issues with providing a means for transportation when students must travel extended distances multiple times a week, and the requirement to purchase an iPad from the university bookstore for all education majors. 

Dean Wycoff-Horn addressed these concerns in her presentation. She said the SOE office for field experience gathers information from students like car ownership to connect students with other students placed at the same school to encourage carpooling. Field experience students are typically given priority for closer placements because they have classes during that time and must return to campus. Also, students can request closer placements in advance to reduce housing and commuting expenses. 

There are nine hundred education students at UWL, and four hundred-fifty are placed in partner schools each semester. Sometimes there’s a limited capacity for placement which can cause students to fall behind, and sometimes there isn’t a sufficient amount of eligible teachers in respective partner schools. There can be more students than initially planned that are admitted to a program.  

If a student isn’t able to get placed at a school, Dean Wycoff-Horn said the SOE office would search for schools in districts that are further away, but only when it’s necessary. They’re trying to work with various programs to determine admissions capacities in order to reduce challenges with placements moving forward. 

Some SOE students were concerned about placements going into June for graduating seniors because leases generally end around the middle of May, and education students don’t have anywhere to stay during this period.

Wycoff-Horn said that this is an issue that has raised concerns in the past, but there isn’t much that can be done to prevent this from occurring due to legal restrictions.  “Unfortunately, that’s the law, so students have to follow the school district calendar,” she said.

SOE is currently communicating with colleagues at the state level and suggesting student teachers follow the university schedule rather than the K-12 calendar.  

“We are really trying to be cognizant of student needs, and if many students come forward and say something, we try to help them out, but it has never been more than a couple,” said Wycoff-Horn. 

SA discussed the resolution in support of education students and opted to table the vote until next week. Several senators were absent from the meeting, so this resolution will receive a vote once there’s a full student body for discussion.