Winona State student presents to Student Senate aiming to support transgender and non-binary students

Kristin Kovalsky, copy editor

On Tuesday, March 23, Winona State University’s Student Senate held their weekly meeting via Zoom.
Two guest speakers spoke at the week’s meeting, including a current student.
The first speaker was Katina Gehn, a third-year sociology major and public relations student who is also the event coordinator for Full Spectrum: Winona State University’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance club, who spoke on behalf of the club.
Gehn presented to Senate a campus card replacement fee waiver proposal, an idea aimed at supporting Winona State’s transgender and non-binary students.
The proposal was a committee recommendation from the Equity and Inclusive Excellence Committee.
The current fee to change the name on a Winona State student ID is $20 with cash or check, or $22 to be added to student tuition.
Gehn said the proposal is important to transgender and non-binary students at Winona State for several reasons.
“Many trans and non-binary students don’t use their legal name, often known as their deadname. When they have to use their campus card for various things around campus, they risk the chance of being outed or harmed by having to share that information with someone else, and in some cases, the name being read aloud to others,” Gehn said.
Gehn said by taking away the fee to change the name on the student ID, Winona State would be working towards being more inclusive.
“Waiving the fee for them would mean one less barrier for them out of the many they already must face that their cisgender peers do not,” Gehn said. “Recognizing and addressing institutional barriers that prevent trans and non-binary students from achieving a sense of belonging and meaningful inclusion into the campus community is socially just and requires permanent institutional changes.”
The committee recommendation was approved by Senate.
The second speaker was vice president of finance and administrative services, Scott Ellinghuysen.
Ellinghuysen gave a presentation on student tuition and the university’s budget.
Ellinghuysen said COVID-19 has greatly impacted the university’s budget in a negative way.
Ellinghuysen said along with a decrease in revenue, enrollment has also decreased.
After Ellinghuysen’s presentation, there was a second committee recommendation from the Student Fee Management Committee.
The recommendation was that there should be a 0% increase to student tuition fees.
Junior class representative RJ Beal-Lancaster proposed an amendment that changed the proposal to a 3% increase because of the information that Ellinghuysen provided about the university’s budget, but it was not passed.
Grace Wagner, a College of Liberal Arts representative, said that she would be okay with a tuition increase.
“WSU is known for giving a quality education for a wonderful price. The goal of an increase is to keep things that way,” Wagner said. “Our professional staff and faculty are cutting corners everywhere possible to pay salaries, keep the lights on in our buildings, and add everything on top of that.”
Wagner said she wants to listen to what students outside of Student Senate have to say as well.
“The things I hear students upset with WSU about (including lack of accessibility, not bringing in enough famous performers, not enough events, campus resources not open enough hours) all take money to fund,” Wagner said. “My goal is not a 3% increase, but rather giving our school the ability to give our students the experience they came here for.”