Student Association meets with New Student and Family Program Coordinator and discusses Green Fund grants and requests


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

Isabel Piarulli, Student Government Reporter

On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) met with the New Student and Family Programs Coordinator Aislinn Hernandez who introduced Winter Welcome Week. Later topics of the meeting included the passing of a resolution regarding state affairs advocacy priorities and the introduction of three Green Fund grant resolutions.

Aislinn Hernandez is the coordinator of New Student and Family Programs at UWL, a program assisting new students and their families as they transition into college. Hernandez visited SA to introduce a new event catered towards new students starting in the spring. “Winter Week of Welcome (WOW) will serve as that middle ground to welcome new students and let them know about events that exist on campus,” said Hernandez.

Various events will take place during WOW between Jan. 22 and Feb.2 and are available to new and current students. “Approximately we will have 140 new students, that includes transfer and first years, and there is really nothing [like Welcome Week in the fall], we have different platforms, but new students aren’t aware of that information,” said Hernandez. This event will allow new students to connect with peers, faculty, staff, campus departments, and community organizations.

Director of Staff Kyle Peters reminded SA in his officer report of the College of Arts, Social Science, and Humanities (CASSH) senate seat vacancy. The application closes on Dec 14, to apply email [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] with a copy of your resumé and a brief personal statement that explains why you are eager to serve in SA as a member of Student Senate representing CASSH.

SA passed a resolution that formalized state affairs advocacy priorities for the 2022-2023 academic year. These priorities include the approval of phase II of the Prairie Springs Science Center, enhanced mental health funding and support for counseling services at UW System campuses, and financial support for the Wisconsin Tuition Promise initiative.

Three resolutions were newly introduced to SA pertaining to UWL Green Fund requests and grants. According to the Green Fund website, applications for projects within the Green Fund are reviewed by the Joint Committee on Environmental Sustainability (JCES), then forwarded to the Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee (SUFAC). If approved, SUFAC then moves grant applications on to Student Senate with its recommendations. Student Senate then decides upon final Green Fund application approvals.

Green Fund Coordinator Cassandra Ziegler visited SA to give a presentation and provide background on the three resolutions.

The current Green Fund budget is $77,883.83. The majority of this money comes from the $10.83 collected from each student included in tuition fees, along with money from grants that did not use all the funds they were allocated.

First introduced was a resolution to approve the Green Fund request for the sports club solar lighting. The solar lights are located on the north campus grass fields used by many REC Sports Clubs, especially Men’s and Women’s Rugby. In total, replacing the lights will cost $31,478 however, the Green Fund is requesting to pay $15,000 of that amount. The two-week rule on this resolution was upheld and will be further discussed in next week’s SA meeting.

The second resolution is to approve the request for the Drift Cycle 2 Bike Share Program and extension. The Green Fund hopes to add a new Drift Cycle bike rack by the Whitney Center, in addition to the existing one by the Student Union. The resolution also includes a two-year extension of the already existing rack.

According to the presentation, the extension will cost $20,000. This is $2,000 per bike for five bikes, each year. The new bike rack will cost the same amount bringing the total project to $40,000. “We got a very generous sponsorship from the La Crosse Municipal Transit and they are going to go half with us,” said Ziegler. This brings the Green Fund contribution to $20,000. This resolution will return to SA next week.

The final Green Fund grant is $30,000 to implement electric vehicle (EV) chargers on campus in parking lots C-12 and C-2. Unlike the other resolutions, this one is brought to SA by SUFAC to disapprove of this grant. According to a survey sent out last year, of the 400 students, faculty, and staff that responded, 1.2% of students own electric vehicles. Because of this, SUFAC members, after talking to students, feel that these figures do not support using student fees for this $30,000 grant for electric vehicle charging stations.

SUFAC member Jenasea Hameister said, “In the resolution, it states why SUFAC decided not to recommend it, but ultimately it is up to you [SA], so if you [SA] fail this, a new resolution will come up in favor of it.”

College of Business Administration (CBA) Senator Ryan Sperling came out in support of this Green Fund grant. “Given the fact that electric vehicles are becoming more affordable and normalized I think that this provides UWL with a great opportunity to get ahead of the curve,” said Sperling.

La Crosse has 11 total charging stations. Most are concentrated downtown with the closest one to UWL campus at Western Technical College. “Us [UWL] not having EV charging stations creates a lot of issues for people trying to come to UWL,” Zeigler said.

SUFAC member and College of Science and Health (CSH) Senator Anastasia Grochowski said, “I cannot justify using student funds when so few students will be impacted. I think this is a great idea however, I would love to see another entity pay for it.”

Sustainably Director Grace Lopez Johnson understood the concerns on how this affects current students, but she pointed out that it is a proactive measure. “When we were writing this grant, we wanted to think of things that are going to not only affect us but those for years to come. So, this is a project that we are going to see the use of,” said Lopez Johnson.

Lopez Johnson pointed out that UWL has the tendency to wait to act on things in terms of sustainability and we have the funds in our budget for this expense now. “We don’t want to wait until we finally have an overwhelming need and then it becomes the problem of ‘why didn’t we take this measure sooner?’,” she said.

School of Education (SOE) Senator Carter Drost said, “We have to realize that these funds are for sustainably and this is a huge step forward for sustainability on this campus, it is going to lay a foundation for things like this to keep happening.” Drost motioned to table this resolution indefinitely, which was then passed by SA.

Next week a resolution will be presented favoring the Green Fund grant for EV chargers, where discussion will continue on the topic.