Student Association meets with Alumni Relations Associate Director Taylor Wilmoth to review UWL Giving Day


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

Isabel Piarulli, Student Government Reporter

On Wednesday, Oct. 12, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) met with the Alumni Relations associate director to discuss the third year of UWL Giving Day. Other topics discussed at the meeting included a resolution on attendance policy leniency on election day and the Safe-Cam project. 

Taylor Wilmoth, Alumni Relations associate director, works with the UWL Foundation to raise money for the university on an annual basis. Wilmoth said, “We work through the foundation and the Cleary Center to fill in the gaps, where funding doesn’t meet all the needs of students.” The UWL Foundation seeks to raise philanthropic support from UWL alumni and friends to support the education of current students, the work of faculty and staff, and campus needs. 

To raise money, awareness, and support, Wilmoth and others started a UWL Giving Day in 2020. The latest Giving Day on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2021, brought in more than $208,000, from more than 1,100 donors in just 24 hours. This year, the day has a new name, One Day for UWL, and they seek to heighten this year’s engagement. Wilmoth said, “We do a donor goal because we want to engage more people rather than a dollar amount, so the donor goal is 1,400 individual donors in those 24 hours.”

One Day for UWL will occur from 9 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19. Matches and challenges will be available during these 24 hours to double the impact of a gift. An event geared more towards students will take place on the Wittich lawn on Oct. 18 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., focusing more on the celebration of philanthropy.

Local Affairs Director Amelia Fortner delivered her officer report to SA and said that a voter education event will be held on Oct. 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Southside Neighborhood Center. This event will offer educational services and address any questions about the voting process.

Sustainability Director Grace Lopez Johnson introduced plans for a Green Fund grant that would fund car charging stations on campus. She also gave information on an upcoming event to celebrate local organizations and people who have inspired sustainable action. A dinner will take place at the La Crosse Distilling Co. on Oct. 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., tickets can be purchased here.

A resolution to recommend attendance policy leniency on election day was introduced by Senator Kate Lochner. “The idea behind this [is] that we don’t want any students to be deterred from voting just because they have to make it to class on time,” said Lochner. “We want to encourage professors to suspend their attendance policy or be more lenient if students come in late.”

The resolution includes a short statement asking UWL faculty to temporarily suspend mandatory attendance policies on election day.

Senator Jake Johnston asked the authors of the resolution could be applied to all election days going forward, not just the upcoming Nov. 8 election. Senator Ryan Sperling also said it would be a good idea for the resolution to apply to all election days. “When we tried to take measures like this in the past we met a lot of resistance on behalf of some faculty, we think if we want to get this through that just focusing on this election for now and writing something like this again for future elections as the time comes,” said Sperling. 

Senator Lochner continued and said, “If it is positively received by the faculty and most of them do what we are asking then I think after this election we can write a similar resolution and request to do it for all future elections.”

The SA discussed the wording of the statement and how it might be received by faculty. Senator Paige Jahner said, “I feel like a professor will read [the statement] and feel that this is just another reason students will use to miss class.”

Senator Carter Drost said that students could bring the sticker they receive for voting to class as proof they were at the polls in their absence. Senator Jenasea Hameister then said, “There has to be something within the statement that the professor will be notified that voting is the reason for absence.”

In the coming week, the authors of the resolution will continue to make edits, and SA will vote upon it in a future meeting. 

SA President Grant Mathu spoke about the Safe-Cam initiative, a project led by the City Vision Foundation to fund a camera system for the La Crosse Police Department. The project is now in phase two and proposes more cameras along the riverfront with the aim to raise $50,000. 

President Mathu asked whether senators had an interest in being involved in this fundraiser or promoting the initiative. 

Advisor Kara Ostlund provided more information on the project and said, “The Safe-Cam project was really called into question in the springtime after UWL student Hamud Faal, was found in the river, the current cameras are not of good quality so the hope was to replace the ones and add more cameras so they can better see what happens and so that the response could be quicker.” 

Senator Adam Whitney said it’s important to have more preventative measures than the reactive measures that cameras provide. Advisor Kyle Burke said that the university still participates in Operation River Watch, which is a group of students along the riverfront on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights every weekend that classes are in session. Advisor Burke said he encourages student organizations to participate in the river watch.

SA discussed inviting a speaker to come in and share more information about the Safe-Cam project. 

Senator Drost had one closing topic to discuss with SA, and he said, “I believe there are not enough senate seats to accurately represent the university, there are only 34 seats on the senate and there are 10,314 students currently enrolled at UWL.” 

Senator Casey Christ agreed but said that the greater issue is that students at UWL do not know that SA exists as an organization. Public Relations Director Molly Wescott said, “I do have a couple of events that I have been thinking about and we do have a committee we are working on for getting SA more out into the world.” 

Student Association meetings are open to students and faculty, the next SA meeting will take place on Wed Oct. 19.