Citing a “negative shared governance climate” the Student Association at the UW-Milwaukee took an official position against the previously approved construction of a new Student Union at their May 5 senate meeting. The effects could stall the project for several years.
Deputy Speaker Taylor Scott proposed the motion, which was seconded by Senator Samir Siddique, who also serves as secretary of the Union Policy Board.
The position is:
“We take a formal stance against the building of a new Student Union specifically due to the negative shared governance climate and the inability to have a collaborate student-driven student union building project at this time. If the shared governance climate were to improve, the Student Association would be in support of a new Student Union.”
The new Student Union project was approved by 72 percent of voting students in a popular referendum last year, although the Student Association has plans to host a second referendum sometime in remaining two weeks of the semester.
More students participated in the first new Student Union referendum than have participated in any Student Association election in the last four years.
“Shared governance” refers to the role students play in university decisions and actions. Appointing students to shared governance committees and dispersal of student fees are the two requirements of UWM’s elected student representatives as stated in UW-System policy.
The stance passed with unanimous consent.
The new Student Union referendum will, like last year’s referendum, ask if students support the construction of a new Student Union. Scott said the SA wants to gauge support “considering record-high tuition, uncertain financial aid and possible low enrollment.”
A New Student Referendum Committee was created two weeks ago to roll out the second referendum. Union Policy Board (UPB) Chair Michael Ludwig said at a meeting last week that he is against the project all together and very concerned that the UPB is “not being recognized in the decision-making process.”
These concerns were echoed at the Senate meeting, where SA Executive staff repeatedly told the Senate that they were being “left out of the loop.”
Ludwig claimed students are concerned about the cost of the new Student Union, citing blogs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s comment sections, and overheard talk in campus hallways.
Union Director Rick Thomas said he doesn’t know why the Student Association is doing this, and he hopes the project can move forward as planned.