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The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

“We’re strong” Student Association hears from Interim Chancellor Betsy Morgan on leadership changes, DEI concerns and discusses it’s own bylaw changes

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Image retrieved from uwlax.edu/student-association/.

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) met to hear from Interim Chancellor Betsy Morgan, a concerned student from the School of Education and discussed changes to SA bylaws. 

Morgan told SA that she was unable to answer any questions about the Joe Gow incident and his removal from the position of Chancellor because of her involvement. “I am actively involved in that investigation and that decision,” said Morgan.  

Morgan spoke on the suddenness of Gow’s dismissal. “Everyone I have talked to and everybody on the cabinet, that’s all the Vice Chancellors, knew nothing until the dismissal itself,” she said.

“I think it’s important for students to know he is not teaching this semester,” Morgan said. 

In her new role as Interim Chancellor, Morgan explained she has been working closely with the Chancellor search committee, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) search committee and the search committee tasked with finding a Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion.  

Morgan assured SA of her confidence in UWL before opening the floor for questions. “I think UWL is a great school because we have great students and great faculty and staff, and I am not in the slightest bit worried about UWL going forward,” she said. 

School of Education Senator Morgan Hahn asked what plans Morgan had during her time as interim chancellor. Morgan responded that she had no big plans during her time as Interim Chancellor. “I think it’s really important for interims to make sure that we are just doing what we normally do and not have any big plans.” 

Morgan added that her main objective is to, “keep the boat afloat,” while the search committees find someone to fill the chancellor seat permanently. Also in her new position Morgan has, “been trying to get out into the community, to some of our donors, to say we’re strong, we’re good.”  

Vice President Siri Flores asked Morgan about the current state of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at UWL. Morgan responded, “In the long run there was an agreement that, in exchange essentially, for the raise, which would be 4% this year and another 2% next year, there would be a capping of DEI positions across the system.” The capping of DEI positions has not affected the search for a Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, stated Morgan.  

College of Science and Health Senator Avery Winders brought up the dramatic decrease in funding that the Wisconsin legislature has brought on the UW System schools over the past 30 years. He said, “It just doesn’t seem like the legislature is valuing education as much as they should.”  

“I couldn’t agree with you more, it has been a precipitous drop,” answered Morgan. “… I think that it’s important for students to know that that is why tuition goes up. If you want tuition to stay flat, or to not go up as quickly, you need the state to support it.”  

Morgan said to SA that the best way to send a message to legislators is to have businesses stand up and say that they value educated workers and want the state to take a more active role in providing education for those who will soon be entering the workforce.  

Promised pay raises for UW system employees have been under negotiation by the Wisconsin Legislature on the grounds that DEI positions be eliminated.

Latin American Student Organization (LASO) Senator Armando Garcia asked Morgan how she believes DEI will continue in the future, “when we have a government that’s very hostile towards it.”  

Morgan responded, governments change, with redistricting and elections, you never really know who’s going to be in control.” She continued, “I think the demographics are on the side of the United States being a diverse culture and that the UW System should reflect the diversity of our state.”  

During the student body open forum, Cameron Seebruch a second-year SOE student, brought a complaint forward about how little had been done by SA to remove the iPad requirement that has been identified as an issue among SOE students.  

Seebruch referenced a resolution that had been introduced to SA last academic year which would remove the iPad requirement and was supposed to be sent to the Dean of SOE, the Provost and the rest of the administration to be reviewed. After receiving no updates on the situation during the past year, Seebruch came looking for any news on the situation.  

Vice President Siri Flores informed Seeburch that someone will reach out to him and thanked him for his comments.

Secretary Grace Guyer spoke on behalf of the Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion Search Committee and provided SA with an update on how the search is going.  

The search committee met over break and developed a rubric by which interview questions will be created and will finalize the questions and rubric on Friday, Jan. 26, as well as receive bias training before being exposed to any of the candidate information. Guyer also mentioned that the committee hopes to have a list of semi-finalists and have those finalists on campus in March.  

SA swore in two new senators, Hannah Duke and Summer Palm to serve as the Senator for Fraternity Sorority Life (FSL) and Senator for Asian Latin African Native American Women (ALANA). 

Director of University Centers Kyle Burke spoke to SA and tasked them with creating an ad hoc committee. This committee will be tasked with reviewing the bylaws in light of the recent legal action that was taken against UWL which concerned the challenge presented to the diversity and inclusion statement for student organizations.

The new committee, which has yet to have appointed senators, will ensure that UWL’s bylaws are in line with the bylaws that are put forth by the UW System as a whole.  

The UW System policy in question at hand reads as follows, “Student organizations that select their members or officers on the basis of commitment to a set of beliefs, examples religious or political beliefs, may limit membership, officer positions or participation in the organization to students who affirm that they support the organization’s goal and agree with its beliefs.”  

This UW System policy clashed with the Inclusivity Statement that SA voted to be a requirement for all student organizations in 2021.

LASO Senator Armando Garcia said as a reminder to SA that, “hate is not a UWL value.”  

Garcia also said about the Inclusivity Statement, “They could not bring themselves to endorse that idea, and they lawyered up, threatening to sue the university. That is very telling of the extent they will go to make sure there is a UWL where hate is a value.” 

SA will meet again on Wednesday, Jan. 31.  

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About the Contributor
Jackson Skarp, Student Government Reporter
  • Year at UWL: Sophomore
  • PGPs: He/Him/His
  • Hometown: Cottage Grove, MN
  • Major: Communication Studies
  • Minor: Legal Studies and Philosophy
  • Other Campus Involvement: Pre-Law Society Member
  • Future Plans after Graduation: I plan on attending law school after graduation
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Finding new coffee shops to study at.
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