Student association discusses campus legal aid services – The Racquet Press


Julia Wille, student government journalist

Wednesday December 8, The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (SA) Students’ Association met with Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Bob Hetzel about UWL plans and campus legal counsel , Mark Huesmann, who spoke about the resources available to students.

The first speaker to come to the Senate was Hetzel who wanted to update the SA on UWL’s outlook and some of UWL’s plans for the future. He spoke about the number of registrations at the facility. UWL currently has 10,314 students this year and 2,207 freshmen. This is a record number of freshmen enrolled at UWL. Hetzel said the enrollment rate is still below average as UWL juniors and seniors have withdrawn from college due to COVID-19. He also said that UWL has the highest retention rate in the University of Wisconsin system.

Hetzel also discussed the financial challenges facing UWL and the plan they have for the future. He said that since enrollment numbers are dropping due to COVID-19, there are fewer student fees the University receives. The UW system is also currently in a 10-year tuition freeze, which means the tuition cannot be changed. He said: “We find the biggest challenge is the tuition fee freeze.”

Hetzel also spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on the budget. He said UWL had received $ 38 million from the government over the past 22 months to help manage the impact of COVID-19.

He said: “Almost $ 16 million has been given in student financial aid.” The funds were spent on COVID-19 tests open to students, faculty, staff and the community. UWL also used the money for contact tracing and personal protective equipment. Hetzel said that “UWL used 273,400 disposable masks in the fall semester, we were able to get them free in the state of Wisconsin.”

He then spoke about the new building updates that will take place on campus. Currently, the new sports complex is under construction and is expected to be completed by August 2022. He said, “We will have the best indoor track facility in the Midwest when the complex opens. “

UWL will soon enter phase two of the campus master plan, which includes additional construction of the Prairie Springs Science Center. The second phase will include the demolition of Cowley Hall and the construction of a building attached to the current Prairie Springs Science Center. This building will include more than 30 high-tech classrooms, numerous faculty offices and a new greenhouse. The addition is estimated at $ 110 million and will need to be passed through legislation.

UWL also intends to renovate the residences. Hetzel said UWL is behind in renovations due to COVID-19 but will start working again soon. White Hall will not be open at the end of the semester due to renovations. Laux Hall will undergo interior renovations this summer.

Hetzel also mentioned the project for a parking ramp in the parking lot of the Arts Center. He said that there is a very high demand for parking spaces from students and teachers.

The SA hosted two other guest speakers, Prof. Mark Huesmann and Kathryn Olsen. They came to speak to SA from the campus legal advisor. Huesmann is a professor on campus as well as a lawyer in the La Crosse area. He has been providing legal aid services to students at UWL for 26 years.

The legal aid service is paid by a separate fee and is available to all students on campus. He is available for a short period of time two days a week, but being an instructor on campus he has more flexibility to meet with students. Huesmann said: “We need to get the word out to students on campus better.”

He explained how he can advise students on many issues, from dealing with landlords to underage drinking tickets. He can provide legal advice to students, but he does not represent students as a lawyer. The Senate explained that the main problem is the lack of awareness of this service offered to students. Huesmann said: “I don’t think it would hurt if Provost Betsy Morgan or Chancellor Joe Gow sent a campus-wide email mentioning Legal Aid Services.”

It can be a tool that students can use for free. Legal advice can be difficult for students to access, and this resource allows students to receive free advice.

Next, the SA discussed the proposed Green Fund grants. One grant is to install LED lights in the new spaces at Recreational Eagle Center and the other grant is to help fund a shared bicycle start-up program on campus. It was the second week that it was presented to the Senate and both resolutions were passed.

The SA also discussed a resolution regarding the approval of the separate attributable fee budget for fiscal year 2023. The separate fee goes to campus organizations and is funded by student bills. The only change proposed this year is to withdraw money from reserves to increase AS. It is believed that the increased budget will increase the travel budget after budget cuts due to COVID-19. This resolution will be discussed again at the next meeting and will likely be put to a vote.

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