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

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

The Racquet Press

Passing the Gavel: A new era of Student Association leadership

Isabel Piarulli
Passing of the Gavel

On Thursday, April 25, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Student Association (SA) gathered in the Miller Bluffs in of the Student Union for the first-ever Passing of the Gavel event. The event was held to recognize the current SA body for all the work they have done over the past year, “pass the gavel” to the newly elected SA vice president and present the Higher Education Advocate of the Year award to Judge Mark Huesmann (He/Him).

The banquet began with a plated dinner where SA members mingled and socialized with one another. SA President Emma Latus (She/Her) and Vice President Siri Flores (She/Her) then welcomed everyone to the banquet and introduced Huesmann.

Huesmann spoke first on how great of an asset Bob Hetzel, UWL’s Vice Chancellor for Administration & Finance since 2007, was to UWL. Huesmann said, “This university is on solid footing financially, and we can thank Bob for a lot of that.”

Huesmann also spoke about how UWL is one of two UW System schools not currently in a financial deficit; he attributed that success to Hetzel as well.

Huesmann spoke about UWL’s duty to educate its students and prepare them for critical thinking upon graduation. Huesmann related it to members of a jury and their ability to think critically about the situation in court they are presented with.

According to Huesmann, our country is divided in its current state, and only through our education will we be able to overcome the divide.

Huesmann also spoke about the students he represented for free when they were being taken advantage of by their landlords, an issue he holds as a high priority. He also explained his philosophy on teaching.

“We are here to develop the minds of students, not to indoctrinate them,” said Huesmann.

As a first generation American and college student, Huesmann obtained a law degree, retired from the military as a lieutenant colonel, ran a small business, worked as a teaching professor at UWL and became a circuit court judge.

Huesmann credits his achievements to his education. As a product of our country’s public education system, Huesmann firmly believes that education is the best path to success.

As Huesmann finished, he said, “For many years I ended every course with the following thoughts; ethics by definition resides in the shadows, but most things you will encounter in life are not gray. Most of the time, in your personal and professional life, you will be faced with problems and there will be a clear right and a clear wrong. You must have the moral courage to make the difficult decision to do the right thing. Always.”

Next, Latus returned to the podium and read aloud “SA2324-031: Resolution Honoring Interim Chancellor Betsy Morgan with the Thanks of the Senate”, which SA passed to recognize the work that Interim Chancellor Morgan has done through the Spring semester.

Following Latus, Flores read aloud “SA2324-033: Resolution Honoring Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Bob Hetzel with the Thanks of the Senate”. The resolution recognized all of the accomplishments that Hetzel has either been present for or personally had a hand in, as well as recognized that financial deficit Hetzel has guided UWL away from.

Flores recognized each of the members of SA who are graduating this semester, including Michaela Smith, Sara Maynor, Anna Giese, Paige Vang, Siri Flores, Easton Moberg, and Grace Lopez Johnson. These students were presented with a UWL SA stole to wear during graduation.

The Racquet Press spoke with Paige Vang (She/Her), a graduating student majoring in public health after the event.

“It was a really great culmination of everything that happened this year and all of the events that happened this year,” said Vang.

The Director of University Centers and Student Engagement Kyle Burke (He/Him) and the Dean of Students and Student Affairs Kara Ostlund (She/Her), who work as co-advisors for SA, took the podium next for the official passing of the gavel. They began by thanking all of the members of the 2023-2024 SA for the work they have done throughout the year and for the work they will continue to do.

Burke and Ostlund thanked Latus for the work she has done as President and expressed their excitement for the work she will do in her next term now that she has been reelected for a second term.

Ostlund next spoke to the work that Flores has done in her time as Vice President, as she has presided over nearly 40 SA meetings, served on two separate search and screen committees and has represented the student body on Faculty Senate and the Wellness Weekend Task Force.

Burke and Ostlund then formally announced the Latus has been reelected for SA President in the 2024-2025 academic year and that Avery Winders was elected as the SA Vice President for the 2024-2025 academic year.

Flores and Winders provided closing remarks, and the banquet concluded.

The Racquet Press talked to Gavin Hanke (He/Him), a third-year student majoring in biology with a concentration in biochemistry. Hanke will serve as the newest senator in the College of Health Administration this coming academic year. He said, “It’s cool to be a part of an organization that cares so deeply about the campus and about the student body.”

SA will meet again on Wednesday, May 1, to wrap up final resolutions and to conduct their final meeting of the 2023-2024 academic year.

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About the Contributors
Jackson Skarp
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.
Isabel Piarulli
Isabel Piarulli, Executive Editor
Year at UWL: Junior PGPs: She/Her/Hers Hometown: Menasha, WI Major: Psychology and Political Science Minor: Communication Studies Other Campus Involvement: Student Association CASSH Senator, University Centers Admin Assistant, Psychology Club, Pre-Law Society member Future Plans after Graduation: Attend law school Favorite Activity in La Crosse: Visiting Pearl Street Books
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