Student Senate seeks signatures from student body

State law changes ‘not a disincentive for having Student Senate and other governance groups.’ Student Senate works to make documents legally compliant with changes in governance groups’ scope of power

After changes to state laws on student governance, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville student government groups are working to update their documents to remain in compliance with Wisconsin law. This revision of state laws, specifically of statute 36.09 (5), has altered the powers of governance groups including Student Senate, Presidents’ Council, Residence Hall Association, United Greek Council and the Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee from creating policies to advising the chancellor on the formulation of policies.

“The law allows us as students to work with faculty and administrative staff to decide policies, but now shared governance groups are being moved to an advisory position,” Sydney Bend, Student Senate President and senior media studies major said. Now with the new changes in place, policymaking powers that the student governance groups once held have been transferred to the chancellor. Bend said Chancellor Dennis Shields is not in favor of the law change because he wants the student body to have a voice on policy.

“Students have less voice on policies – the student voice is being muffled,” Joseph Sigwarth, Presidents’ Council Chair and senior business administration major, said. He also said that this change is giving the Student Senate and other organizations less ability to address students’ concerns.

Shared governance groups are hoping to keep the effects on student influence in policy making at a minimum.

“Platteville is a student-centered campus. A change in the language doesn’t change the way we operate, we are still student centered,” Assistant Dean of Students and Presidents’ Council Administrative Liaison Kate Demerse said.

In order for UW-Platteville student governance groups to be in compliance with the updated law, changes must be made to the UW-Platteville Implementation Plan. Sigwarth said that before these changes can be made, one-fourth of UW-Platteville students must sign a petition to have the issue placed on the ballot for 2016. This means that around 2,200 students will need to sign the petition for the process of updating the documents on student governance to continue.

“We are focused on gathering signatures to get the petition to go to a vote. We are hopeful that students are willing to sign it so it can go up to a vote,” Demerse said.

Presidents’ Council has put forward a referendum to reduce the number of signatures needed to put the updates to the Implementation Plan on the ballot. Bend said she does not believe 2,200 signatures should be necessary to update student governance documents to be in accordance with changes made by the state and governor.

If the necessary number of signatures is not reached, the issue will not be voted on during 2016 elections.

“If we do not get enough signatures, it will be dead in the water until next year, when they [the student governance groups] will take the cause up again. Until then, they will continue to work under the same implementation plan,” Demerse said.

The change to state law is “not a disincentive for having Student Senate and other governance groups, who have a responsibility to inform students on what is going on,” Sigwarth said.

The petition to place the updates on the 2016 election ballot can be found at

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