On Mar. 8, the Student Senate held its weekly meeting and had guest speakers go over plans for graduation and meal plan changes. These guests included UW-Platteville Communications Director and Public Information Officer Paul Erickson and Director of Auxiliary and Dining Services Michael Ernst.
Director Erickson discussed the state of this semester’s graduation ceremony. Erickson stated that the committee in charge of graduation has determined an in-person ceremony to be impractical and decided it will not occur this semester.
This comes after a lack of guidance available from Grant County Health Services and the CDC as well as limitations with the space available in Williams Fieldhouse, according to Erickson. The committee estimated that there are 1,258 candidates for graduation and only around 240 people could fit in the gymnasium at one time while maintaining social distancing. As a result, there would need to be six ceremonies with no guests to facilitate all the graduates.
Erickson concluded by saying that the committee is always open to suggestions for the fall semester, when in-person graduation is expected to resume.
Next, Director Ernst presented the current plan for reworking meal plans. The proposal would shift away from traditional and time-based plans to what Ernst called a “flex plan,” which will base the meal plan on the use of Dining Dollars and discounts at campus dining halls. The hope behind the revision is to rebalance the system to improve student diets and reduce wasted meals.
The new plans will remove time restrictions on meals and prevent unnecessary meal losses by allowing students to determine when their meal money is best spent. Prices for campus dining halls will have discounts for students on a meal plan, with a 50% discount at Bridgeway Stations and a 30% everywhere else. The meal plan requires $650 from each plan to go to overhead costs, meaning that students have access to 60% of the plan’s price as dining dollars with the default plan.
These changes will also come with an updated system for ordering food. This system will allow students to order and pay for food on mobile devices and have the food ready for pickup when they arrive. Ernst stated that this is in response to improved technology and student complaints over wait times, which mainly come from the limited number of cashiers.
For new business, a representative for Delight Ministries presented her proposal for the organization. Delight Ministries intends to create a Christian group meant to provide inclusivity for women. The organization would be part of campus ministries as well as try to include those living off campus. The senate will vote on whether the oranization is approved next week.
The only external report spoken on was campus planning, which is one of the senate’s committees. They are considering moving to meeting once each month rather than twice.
There were a few petitions and requests discussed next. First was a concern over extraneous fees appearing for students this semester for classes taken last semester. Many senators reported also having trouble with these fees, many of which have no clear reason stated for them and are dated from several months ago. President Behlke said reports of these issues may be directed to him and that the senate will investigate this issue further.
Petitions for opening the PAC and creating a zero-waste environment were discussed next. The primary discussion was on whether the senate should send out emails including the petitions. The sentiment of the council was against this due to concerns of the emails being overlooked and possibilities of fraudulent support responses.
Next, the council called a closed session to discuss the appointment of a Director of Inclusion and Diversity. Open session resumed with the approval of the appointment and swearing in of Senator Lillian Sulli to the position.
The vote on EAC bylaws was postponed until next week’s meeting.
The April Break Resolution to enforce a furlough and prevent deadlines during April break was tabled indefinitely. This was due to a lack of ability to enforce the resolution and forseeable tensions it might cause with the Faculty Senate.
Finally, Vice President Kurstin Frey presented briefly on plans for the upcoming campus elections this semester. Frey stated that the current plan is to hold a one-hour all-campus forum with 15 minutes dedicated to each position. Debate questions will be prepared before the forum. The forum will take place over Zoom and be recorded; the recording will be sent out after the meeting for those interested. The all-campus election dates are planned for April 13-14.