UW-Superior students and Student Government Association members found themselves facing off with campus administration Monday night over the proposed and implemented relocation of the various campus services from Old Main to the YellowJacket Union. The controversy is stemming from a lack of communication to student government by the administration as well as the contention of where offices can be placed.
Starting February 24 the admissions, Career Services, First Year Experience, and Technology Services offices will all change location, as planned as part of Strategic Planning, but without the approval the Student Government Association.
The plan is for the admissions office to move where career services and FYE currently is, for career services and FYE, who currently and will continue to share a location, to move to where Tech Services currently is, and for Tech Services to move to second floor of Swenson hall.
The rearrangement came after discussion of how the YU is being used. Career services is seen by the administration as more of an academic asset and they believe it would be easier for students to access if it were in Swenson Hall. Admissions also feels they will better meet their goal of increasing enrollment and visibility by moving to the YU.
The Student Government Association, where anything the administration plans that will effect student life should go through, did not see or vote on this change. “They didn’t come to us,” said Senator Chelsea Meredith. “We were pretty confused and misinformed.”
On Monday February 10, SGA had an open forum for students to come and speak their opinions. In attendance was Chancellor Watcher, Vicki Hajewski, and the assistant vice chancellor of enrollment management John Mueller. Around 50 people attended the meeting.
“I have never seen a turnout like this at an SGA meeting in my four years,” said president Graham Garfield.
John Kronenwetter is concerned over the administrations actions over the last few weeks. “If I knew the administration walked all over student rights I would not have come here…Old Main is not dilapidated, it is distinguished and historical… We pay for this building, we deserve to have full oversight… We are a University, not a business and students aren’t dollar-signs.” he said.
Devin Pfaff is a campus administer who takes prospective students on tours. She said bringing them into Old Main leaves a bad taste in their mouth. “[The YU] in a gorgeous building,” she said. “The vast majority of other UW schools have their admissions in the student union, center of the university, or in their newest building.”
James Mohr said that within the Strategic Plan, this move was “buried in political double speak…Changes should have some sort of student input. They had the best intentions but the way they went about it leads to distrust from the student body.”
Jordan Hiatis said “Are we going to move a dumpster or three entire offices?”
Taylor Tengwall said “Whether or not this is going to be good or bad its going to happen; its already been decided…I wish [we could have had this discussion] before this decision was made. Whats going to stop them from putting other offices, or taking things away?”
The rest of the SGA meeting was spent by Senators asking the administration in attendance questions about office rearrangement.
“The situation we face today is unprecedented,” said Chancellor Watcher. “This is the fiscal reality we are dealing with…its very difficult. We either cut expenses or increase revenue.”
When discussing why this was never brought to SGA she said somewhere the communication was dropped. “I want the students to feel involved and heard.” said said to the Senate.
Provost Dr. Faith Hunsrud wrote in her email to all students and faculty “when prospective students come to visit us in the Office of Admissions, their first impression is critically important. Right now, visitors experience less ideal conditions when they gather on the first floor of Old Main; they walk past a dumpster and into an outdated building and office space.”
According to Wisconsin State Statute 36.09(5), “students shall have primary responsibility for the formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services and interests. Students in consultation with the chancellor and subject to the final confirmation of the board shall have the responsibility for the disposition of those student fees which constitute substantial support for campus student activities.”
The YU, though, it only about 80% paid for by the students. “While the YU is primarily a student funded building, about 20% of the building costs ($4 million) was received through a donor gift,” said Director of Marketing and Communications Lynne Williams. “In comparison, the building is approximately 80,000 square feet and the space that admissions will be utilizing is about 4,000 square feet, or about 5% of the building.”
The offices will not all rearrange at once. “The moves will happen sequentially,” Williams continued. “IT first, then CS and FYE, then Admissions.”
The SGA meeting was called into session by president Graham Garfield at 8:04pm and ended at the time the YU closed at 11pm.