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Viewpoint: Student Government is Broken, Here’s How to Fix it

Retrieved from uwlax.edu

Retrieved from uwlax.edu

Patrick Brever, Guest Reporter

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Over the past two years I have served the students of UW-L as a Student Senator and more recently as the student body Vice President. I feel privileged to have held these positions and been an advocate for students. As rewarding as the experience has been, it has brought to light some of the issues impacting student government at UWL. It is broken, but not beyond repair. Though I am not free of blame, I believe it is important to share my concerns and solutions regarding the situation.

For starters, student government has been affected by an epidemic that can be seen at all levels of government. One thing that I have consistently noticed in Student Senate is an all or nothing mentality. Senators have little interest in compromising or finding common ground. If one does not get everything they want out of a policy or resolution, they consider it a loss. This is a poor way of governing and directly reflects what is taking place at the federal and state level. As student representatives, we should be more open and willing to compromise with each other. All sides on an issue should advocate for what they believe, however, it is just as important that all sides truly listen to and consider opposing viewpoints. All ideologies can and should be able to work together to create a better UWL.

Next, Student Senate has not always accepted the recommendation of student committees. For example, the Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee, a group consisting of eight students from all over campus, hasn’t been treated as the budget specialists that they are. SUFAC, among other budgeting activities, makes decisions on the Green Fund and projects requesting to use it. This past academic year, SUFAC recommended against funding a project involving some of the trees being cut down for the REC 2.0 expansion. Despite the committee’s opposition, Student Senate approved the project. After its approval, the Student Senate was sued and lost in Student Court because the project did not comply with the Green Fund bylaws. Student committees specialize in specific issues and their expertise as well as their deliberative process should be respected by the Student Senate.

Lastly and most importantly, student involvement is rapidly declining. In the last two elections, our student body President and Vice President have been elected without opposition. Beyond that, only the College of Business Administration had a contested Senator election this past year. Student government is not a resume builder for aspiring politicians, it is an agent of change that all should care about and be invested in. Electing individuals to represent you and your interests simply because no one ran against them is not reflective of successful government.  More students should consider running and therefore giving constituencies all over campus an option on their ballot. If running for a position isn’t your thing, join a student committee. If you don’t have time for a committee, attend and speak at the general Student Senate meetings on Wednesdays at 6pm in 2310 The U.

In closing, the Student Senate should be more focused on finding common ground and working together as well as accepting the advice of student committees. The student body also needs to be involved in student government. Running for a position, joining a committee, or talking to your Student Senators are all ways to make a positive impact.  Without your feedback, Student Senators decide what is best for you, instead of you deciding what is best for you. I have thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with the students in student government and I greatly appreciate their dedication. They all have bright futures ahead. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your student body Vice President and I look forward to seeing all that our new campus leaders accomplish.

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The student news site of University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Viewpoint: Student Government is Broken, Here’s How to Fix it