Student Senate hears budget plans, new residence life proposal

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Sara Tiradossi / Winonan

Winona State University Chief Financial Officer Scott Ellinghuysen said the university will put continue a $4 million budget reduction for the 2017-2018 school year, to combat the budget deficit of that same size.

The student senate discussed this budget reduction as well as other topics at the weekly meeting on Wednesday, March 15.

Ellinghuysen said the university started a budget reduction in the fall of last year, since enrollment has been declining. Enrollment peaked in 2011 and 2012, he added, and new entering freshmen used to be 600-650. The number has been decreasing, with an estimated 550 incoming freshmen for fall 2017.

The budget reduction aims to eliminate 18 vacant positions and reduce the operating budget in all colleges of the five colleges on at Winona State.

Other reductions involve the university advancement, enrollment management and student life, finance and administration and athletics.

Some departments, he said, including composite engineering, athletic training and the college of business have asked for a differential tuition increase, which would charge students above the university’s tuition to improve the departments.

Therefore, he said, the budget reductions will balance with those differential tuition requests.

“We will continue to communicate future budget operations and changes in the university,” Ellinghuysen said.

Other than the reduction plan, Student Senate President Nicole Zimmerman went over the organizational reports from UPAC, the Alliance of Student Organizations and Students United and introduced guest speakers.

Vice Chair of Students United Lexi Byler was one of the guest speakers at the meeting. After a brief introduction about herself, she brought up new actions, which could be taken to improve the services offered at the university.

Byler said Winona State should look into offering more scholarships and grants and keep updating the departments to offer more options for students. For instance, she said the cafeteria could implement more vegan and vegetarian options for students who have a diet restriction.

Other guest speakers from Students United included Vice Chair Dylan Green and State Chair Joe Wolf.

After the guest speakers, the meeting turned to safety issues.

The student senators discussed a motion that now allows students whose housing agreement is cancelled for disciplinary actions to relocate within two weeks. The previous agreement used gave students 72 hours to move out of their residence hall.

Student Services Chair Jackson Ramsland said changing residency within 72 hours can be a daunting task, and it is important to give students an ample amount of time to change housing if they have to do so.

If students are unable to safely relocate within the 72 hours, the university is not doing its duty to keep that student safe, he said.

Senator Mason Moran added it could be hard for students, especially first-year students, to find apartment with a six-month lease in a short amount of time. This can cause a safety issue, he said, because students would not have a place to live, and their academic performance would be affected.

The change of residency may cause a financial burden as well because most students might not have the money to pay for rent within three days.

The eviction policy in Winona State residence halls is still 72 hours and the proposed motion has been sent back to the committee for further discussion.

Other issues discussed involved the opening of the gender-neutral bathroom in the library which is now accessible for students, Inclusion and Diversity Chair Deanna Hoff said.

The senate’s next meeting will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 22 in Maxwell Hall, room 158.

By Sara Tiradossi

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