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Student Senate Visits Resolution to Bring Natural World Indoors

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Cara Henney, Student Government Reporter

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If you have ever been in the Myrick Hixon EcoPark Center you may have noticed some towering trees that found a home indoors.  On Wednesday night, Student Senate revisited a resolution to bring some nature inside with these repurposed trees for the Rec 2.0 expansion.

In the Fall of 2016, a resolution was introduced to repurpose a set of trees that will be cut down in the process of the Rec expansion. The resolution suggested to repurpose the trees by placing them inside the new Outdoor Connection space.

These trees, as discussed, are useless to the university as they are too large to transplant. It is Spenser Garcia’s hope that these trees will provide the Green Fund, a group that promotes sustainability at UW-L, with visibility and the students with a positive view of the Outdoor Connection.

Spenser Garcia, author of the latest resolution, stated, “The Rec has a lot of green fund projects, and we approved the solar panels, they have low flow shower heads, and LED light bulbs, but no one knows about any of those projects. The trees are just very visible.”

While the project itself is not sustainable, the authors feel it will promote a creative way to think about reusing natural materials and overall campus sustainability. This is why on February 8, 2017  UW-L’s Student Association passed this resolution. Promptly thereafter a case was brought to the Student Court against Student Senate by a concerned student, Chris Rudolph.

Rudolph, a third year student at UW-L, brought the case to the Student Court arguing the resolution used the Green Fund inappropriately.

Rudolph stated, “In the past this money has been used to pay for environmentally friendly light bulbs, solar panels, and things like that. That’s what the fund was created to do, and now we’re really departing from that vision, where groups that know about this fund using it as an ATM to fund projects that promote sustainability without actually achieving it.”

This project to repurpose 4 of these trees requests $9,453 from the UW-L Green Fund.  According to the Green Fund Bylaws, “The Green Fund exists in order to fund projects that promote the ideals and practices of environmental sustainability at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. It is funded by student segregated fees and can be used for projects that promote sustainability on campus, including but not limited to: renewable energy, waste reduction and recycling initiatives, and energy efficiency projects.”

While the court did strike down the original resolution, the Green Fund has adjusted its bylaws. With the adjusted bylaws in place, Garcia reintroduced his resolution on Wednesday night.

“These trees are getting cut down regardless of what happens to them, so it would be nice to preserve something that’s being lost,” expressed Garcia.

As Garcia has explained during the Senate discussion, these trees are not only sculptural, but also functional. He argued the staff at the Outdoor Connection rental can demonstrate the proper way to safely hang up a hammock, so that it doesn’t hurt the tree or the user.

The senate voted to postpone voting on this resolution a second time, and will visit it again in the upcoming weeks.

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Student Senate Visits Resolution to Bring Natural World Indoors