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Spring Kickoff

February 13, 2012

As students gathered this past Thursday for ASM’s Spring Kickoff, ideas were flowing and issues being discussed amongst ASM representatives and students. First there was a brief introduction from ASM’s chair Allie Gardner, in which she touched on the fact that all of us are here at UW Madison to get an education, because we want a future and ultimately a job once we’re done, and we also are here and want to enjoy ourselves and have fun. She emphasized that students have a voice, but we need a lot of participation in order to have that voice be heard. Luckily through ASM, we have a means to that end through elected representatives, a successful intern program and the bread and butter of the organization, the volunteers on committees.

Finally, Chair Gardner highlighted what the committees are focusing on this semester: Shared Governance is working on workers rights as well as the UW restructuring, Legislative Affairs is working on the Mifflin Street Block Party and voting, University Affairs is putting on a Financial Opportunities Fair at the end of February, and Diversity Committee is working on the climate of the university through education.

Next, Freshman Representative Maria Giannapolous took over being a point person for a town-hall style discussion. Shy at first, students finally began to get down to business once they were prompted to discuss in small groups of people near them on a variety of different issues. Following, is a selection of questions that were asked and some of the ideas that came from them.

What should a student government do?

-represent students

-talk to students (through things like town halls)

-informing students about things like financial aid, getting a job etc.

-provide opportunities to get students together and work on issues

-make college more affordable

-cut class sizes

-work on creating a Spanish Certificate for non-business majors (it is currently only available as a certificate to business majors)

How is ASM Working? Is it successful? What is wrong with it?

-no one knows what ASM is doing

-no one knows that ASM is actually effective

-ASM is a silent partner in most things (good? Bad?)

-not definitive, students need to investigate for most information from ASM

-What is ASM?

-could do class raps more often to inform about what work is being done in ASM

-soap box style elections

-make elections and work done more visible and competitive

-host events that are fun

How well do you think that student concerns are being voiced?

-as a student, one needs to seek out opportunities

-international students are not as represented in student government

-students don’t even know what issues would be of concern to students

So a lot of interesting things came up in conversation, and interestingly enough, a lot of things that were brought up come up in peoples minds in the ASM office all the time. Some of the unique and unexpected ideas that arose was the idea of the Spanish certificate being offered for non-business students (personal note: YES, let’s make that happen), increasing information out to students potentially in the form of a newsletter or emails that aren’t just recruiting students. (We know you love ASM emails)

After the townhall, students moved to the breakout sessions in which they chose a committee to go find out more about. There was a very large following to diversity committee, chaired by Niko Magallon, as well as Shared Governance chaired by Beth Huang. Hopefully being exposed to the work that these specific committees will prompt students to start getting involved and help with some of the great things that are happening within ASM.

Representatives found the town hall to be valuable time to connect with the students they are representing and get outside of the ‘ASM bubble’ and hear outside opinions. All that participated in the evening left with a positive experience and new ideas and enthusiasm for the Spring Semester!

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