Student Senate allocates $5,000 towards vaccine campaign

McKenna Scherer, Editor-in-Chief

Last week’s Student Senate meeting, held virtually on Tuesday, Jan. 25, included the passing of a motion to fund its proposed Vac- cine Incentive Campaign, discussion surrounding the need for more security members for campus safety and the passing of a motion to recommend Winona State University’s Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program hire a new faculty member, among other topics.

Senate has been preparing to launch its Vaccine Incentive Campaign since this past fall, hoping to encourage more students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and reward those who have already been vaccinated. At last Tuesday’s meeting, senate passed a motion to allocate about $5,100 from the Student Activities Fund (SAF) towards purchasing “incentive items” for the campaign.

Prizes would be awarded to students who fit the proposed criteria of the campaign, which fall under three tiers: tier one would include students who have received their first and second dose of the vaccine prior to this January; tier two would include students who receive their COVID booster shot before the end of the campaign; tier three would include students who receive their first and second doses any time during the campaign.

Tier one has three prizes: an Apple i-Pad, a paddle board and a $250 Target gift card.

Tier two has six prizes: a Nintendo Switch console, more gift cards, Apple Airpod Pros and an Apple Watch.

Tier three has nine prizes: Minnesota Twins Tickets worth more than $400, several more gift cards, a kayak and more.

If there are funds leftover from purchasing the prize items, they will be placed back into the SAF.

Kyler Ford and Kathryn Senchea, each senate representatives for science and engineering studies, did not support the motion due to a lack of data supporting the campaign would work and its costliness, among other reasons.

Senate’s Communications Director, Tiegue Elliott, responded by sharing how University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire held a similar campaign and resulted in an increase in student vaccination numbers.

Several other senators discussed the potential backlash they could receive for the campaign as well, but the motion still passed.

Senator Anasia Phillips, who is also chair of senate’s equity committee, moved to recommend the university maintain current staffing numbers of its women’s, gender and sexuality studies (WGSS) program.

The program is housed in the College of Liberal Arts and continually fills its class rosters, but with one of its two professors retiring after this school year with no current plans to replace them, some students and faculty were worried about the program’s survival.

Currently, the WGSS program has two professors: Dr. Tamara Berg, who will be retiring, and Dr. Mary Jo Klinker. This semester, Klinker is teaching four three-credit courses of the five WGSS courses being offered.

Several student senators commented in support of the motion, including Tiegue Elliott, Calli Roers, Kirstin Cole, Mitchell Prosser, Hunter Jones and more.

“As someone who has taken a WGSS course, you learn so much that you would never learn in your other classes,” Jones said. “[WGSS courses] really just help the world be less harsh, I think.”

Prosser noted the “super cool events” the program puts on for the university community while others also noted the positive things they have heard from others about the program’s courses.

The motion passed, recommending a fixed-term position for next school year as well as a recommended commitment to hire a tenure-track probationary position in the 2023-2024 school year.

Chair Phillips also moved, on behalf of the equity committee, to fund two films to be shown on two separate dates on campus to celebrate Black History Month in February.

Phillips said showing films as a way to celebrate Black History Month would be a “lowkey” and COVID-safe option, asking senate to allocate $1,450 to obtain and show the films “Get Out” and “The Whiz”.

Phillips also shared the committee is hoping to have Sam Bretton, a nuclear engineer and an LGBTQ+ activist against conversion therapy, speak on campus soon. The committee has already heard back from Bretton, who said Winona State is one of their “favorite campuses.”

Jasmine Evans-Curry, a senate representative for nursing and health sciences, moved to recommend Winona State Security hire two full-time community staff members and post more student job listings in order to help with campus safety, due to a rise in campus crime.

Senators discussed the increased number of campus crimes, mostly of burglary and sexual assault.

Chair Phillips noted in prior years there were enough security members to have someone from security in each residence hall on campus, but current staff numbers are too low to do that right now.

While the motion was seconded by Chair Phillips and supported by some other senators, it was tabled until Tuesday, Feb. 1’s meeting so the motion makers could speak with Director of Security Chris Chichosz.