The University of Wisconsin–Platteville Student Senate began a casework initiative that will provide a friendly bridge between students and administration.
The casework initiative was originally envisioned to be a free resource for the students provided by Student Senate.
“This casework program is helping students in real-life issues that most governance groups might not focus on,” Student Senate Advisor Valerie Wetzel said.
The initiative was created in order for the senators to effectively accommodate their constituents on a more private, personal level.
Previous Student Senate President Joe Kluever had the original idea for bringing the casework initiative to UW-Platteville, which he based off of the casework completed by the representative’s office in Iowa.
“He [Kluever] cares about real issues and, more importantly, it’s not so much focused on the legislation,” Student Senate President Joe Sigwarth said. “Joe Kluever has always felt that Student Senate has always been focused on ‘boring’ stuff, and he wanted to turn that around and make it more student-orientated. It powers the students and it powers the senators that work with the cases because they see something coming out of their jobs.”
Chief of Staff Samantha Way believes that, with the more private option, Student Senate hopes that more students will seek relief of their concerns and issues through the student body, allowing for greater interaction between students and their elected student officials.
“The idea behind it started with the ideas and petitions sections of our meetings. Students can come in front of the camera and the senate and say, ‘I have a problem.’ The one part about that is it can be very intimidating,” Way said. “Joe Sigwarth and Joe Kluever thought it would be a better, more personal affair if it changed to being more one-on-one.”
Casework started to make an impact on students’ issues last semester throughout four cases, ranging from problems with posters being taped on the sidewalks to questions about who to contact regarding academics or housing.
“It was really new last semester, so as chief of staff, I was trying to work out the kinks of what was really going on,” Way said. “After Vice President Hackett and I started working on the packets for the students participating in casework, we finally have a concrete idea.”
This semester, Student Senate has had only one case, since they recently began collecting cases for the new semester, but they also have a case from last semester that has been carried over into this semester.
The casework program has a bright future, as it will potentially allow Student Senate to connect with the students and analyze important problems.
“We are putting together a rules and guidelines policy for Senate that will codify all the little things that Senate does,” Sigwarth said. “Things like the casework policy will be there and it will tell you all the things that Senate can and cannot do for a student. As well as the policy, there will be packets of information. We are trying to take all the things that are going well in Senate and make sure they stick around.”