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UWGB prepares for SGA election

vote

Photo by Cheyenne Makinia/Fourth Estate

Chloe Hansen and Nick Toyne, left, debated March 27 in MAC Room 208 with Vanya Koepke and Tyler Sterr, right, on a variety of topics during their campaigns for SGA leadership.

Andrew Campnell , News Editor
April 1, 2014
Filed under News, Top Stories

To coincide UW-Green Bay’s upcoming Student government election, a debate was held March 27 between the candidates. The candidates presented their arguments and strategies on issues surrounding the university.

The outcome of the election will determine the next president and vice president.

The election is between Vanya Koepke, junior political science and public administration major, and Chloe Hansen, junior democracy and justice studies, public administration and political science major.

Their running mates are Tyler Sterr, business administration and finance major, and Nick Toyne, junior democracy and justice studies and political science major, respectively.

Koepke’s platform addressed five points of interest, which are to complete Phoenix Spark, restore the Eco-U name, increase transparency in student government, reform the relationship between SGA and the Residence Hall and Apartment Association (RHAA) and to make sure segregated fees are being spent wisely.

Phoenix Spark is a proposed social area located outside the University Union. Koepke said it would include volleyball courts and picnic areas, among other interests.

“Our goal is to make sure we have the funds allocated in the next budget to get the construction started,” Koepke said.

Hansen said a main point in her platform is to ensure the current student representation at the university either stays in place or increases.

The first part of the debate addressed the possibility of a child care center on campus. Koepke said he and Sterr support establishing such a center.

“As senators, we’ve spoken to parents, non-traditional students and single mothers,” Koepke said. “We see the value this center will have for them.”

Hansen and Toyne also support this measure.

“The revival of such a center would be the revival of the university’s commitment to students, faculty and staff,” Hansen said.

The next question concerned student involvement with SGA. Sterr drew upon the experience he and Koepke had serving on the student government for UW-Washington County.

Sterr said one of their methods for increasing student involvement would be using social media.

“We’ll post weekly updates about student government, and have students provide their input

on student government happenings,” Sterr said.

Toyne said there’s a need for more casual facetime with senators throughout the year.

“Students should feel as if they have a relationship with SGA, which is the responsibility of the Senate,” Toyne said.

The debate then transitioned into discussing sustainability on campus, which both parties feel is important.

Koepke reiterated the second point of his five-point plan and addressed what he felt was the need to explore the available resources on campus.

Some of these resources include the solar panels on top of the Kress Events Center and LED lighting.

Koepke said he’d also make sure reminders regarding how to save energy would be posted in the residence hall buildings.

Hansen said she would like to see all chair positions of SGA work with the Sustainability Committee on a collaborative project throughout the year.

Toyne addressed the state of the Sustainability Fund. It was moved to a separate account this year to protect it from being used for non-sustainability purposes, Toyne said.

“We hope to create a long-term plan to use this fund,” Toyne said. “To not have a plan and still collect funds would become unreasonable.”

In addition to funds for sustainability, the candidates addressed segregated fees. Hansen said she and Toyne consulted with the Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee on the six percent increase of segregated fees, and understand why it was increased.

Hansen also said the fee increase issue is not isolated, as it’s connected to various issues like decreased student enrollment. Toyne said he and Hansen would like to find out who pays segregated fees and what the formula is for calculating.

“This formula has a large impact on segregated fee collection,” Toyne said. “We’d like to understand it and potentially change it, depending on what the answer is.”

As a member of SUFAC, Koepke said $86,000 was made from budget cuts, which is going into the reserves so student organizations can use that money when they need it.

Koepke also proposed a one-year presidential pay cut, which he, along with Sterr, volunteered to take. If elected, Koepke and Sterr’s pay would be halved and the money saved from the cut would go back to the organizations, Koepke said.

The last question of the debate focused on the peer relationships within SGA. Currently, Hansen said she and Toyne don’t recognize any conflict within SGA to the scale they’ve seen in the past.

However, from the conflicts that have arised, Hansen said they’ve maintained an open dialogue and worked toward resolving those issues.

“We want to work with all branches of government to continue building strong relationships and avoid any potential issues that arise,” Hansen said.

Koepke agreed issues within the government have calmed down, though there is still tension. To ease the tensity, Koepke said leaders of RHAA and the senate should get together and discuss the issues at hand.

Koepke also said the self-interests of both groups should be removed so they can focus on helping the students.

Morgan Mason, fifth-year senior history and philosophy major, as well as the current SGA vice president, attended the debate and said it was nice to see preparedness from both sides. Mason has seen the roles of both parties for SGA, and said they’ve done good jobs.

“If either party wins, it’ll be good for this campus,” Mason said.

Hansen and Toyne want to make sure student voices are heard in all future discussions concerning numerous campus issues, whether it be gender-neutral housing, sustainability or anything else on campus.

Overall, Hansen and Toyne want to be realistic in their goals for the campus while ensuring student representation is a realistic goal, Hansen said.

Both parties draw on experience from their time serving in SGA. Hansen said she and Toyne have five years of senate experience combined.

Aside from the senate experience he and Sterr had, Koepke said he was also a part of SUFAC as well as RHAA as the third-floor community council representative for Roy Downham Hall.

Miller said the experience she’s had on the senate helps her in this race for presidency.

“It’s provided me a chance to lead a group of senators, as well as work with administration at a high level, which is exactly what a president and vice president would do,” Hansen said.

Both candidates have distinct reasons for running. Koepke said his reasons came from interactions with the students on campus.

“There was a lot of interest in getting involved and getting plugged in,” Koepke said. “So we said, ‘What can we do to get students engaged and get them connected with clubs?’”

Voting will take place April 8 and 9 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days.