SSA struggles to fill seats

SSABy Jake Huffcutt —

The Stout Student Association (SSA) plays a key role in the daily life of University of Wisconsin–Stout and is the official student government body. They are in charge of a wide variety of duties, ranging from choosing where to spend money, to representing the student population.

SSA President Eric Huse said, “SSA represents the entire student body on issues surrounding student life, service fees and interests.  It also handles all student organization recognition, conduct and funding.“

Several notable recent achievements of the organization were its tobacco ban on campus during the election of 2000 and its construction of the Memorial Student Center in 2012 (the only building on campus owned by students and not by the government).

The SSA gets its authority under Wisconsin State Statute 36.09(5) and consists of three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial). It continues to be of crucial importance to Stout in its responsibilities of allocating $500,000 to student organizations annually and its clout in campus policies.

Lately there has been a lack of representation of students in the SSA. Sustainability Director, Dane Neville and Director of Financial Affairs, James Robertson believe that this may be a result of students’ work to school lifestyle, attendance solely for a degree or possibly a general disinterest in government.

Whatever the reason, there are currently only 18 SSA positions filled out of 34 total. This may be because not as many people signed up for positions last semester, making the beginning of this semester bleak in regards to attendance. Though the situation is quite less than ideal, there has been progress. Five positions have been filled since the beginning of the semester, averaging one per week.

This is a problem for a multitude of reasons, chiefly that the student body is not being properly represented. As of now, one student senator is representing 900 students, and has to be the voice for all of them. If the representative doesn’t know what the students want through their lack of participation, then that’s an issue. The SSA would also like a more diverse range of members in the organization so that it more accurately portrays our diverse student body.

The average student is not aware of where their money is being spent apart from books and classes. Students would have a much larger say in where their money is being spent if they participated more in organizations, such as SSA.

In a way, the students are saying that they’re passive with Stout policies by not going to the meetings.

There are a plethora of reasons for why students should apply to become part of the SSA, some being that they will be able to achieve professional skills and get to interact with important members of our campus community.

Anyone interested in applying for a position is encouraged to go to the SSA’s page on OrgSync, where they can fill out an application. Meetings are every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Ballroom A in the MSC.

“Student involvement is of paramount importance for our campus,” Neville said. “Without the student body, we have nothing.”

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