The Spring 2021 Associated Students of Madison election results were released on Wednesday evening, announcing the UW-Madison students that will fill seats on the Student Council and the Student Services Finance Committee.
Seven percent of UW-Madison’s 43,595 enrolled students turned out to vote in the election that took place from Monday through Wednesday. The 33 elected student council representatives will help to enact student governance as granted in Wisconsin State Statute 36.09(5), leading the 28th session of ASM which will start in April. Student council representatives come from UW-Madison’s seven schools, colleges, graduate and professional school programs.
“I believe that in the 27th session we have laid some fabulous groundwork for various campaigns on mental health, equity initiatives and sustainability on campus,” 27th session Vice Chair and 28th session Letters and Science representative-elect Aerin Leigh Lammers said. “I hope that in the 28th session I am able to continue to advocate on those issues, continue the fight that so many students have led this year and more than anything else support ASM’s leadership team in their efforts to make this campus a better place for students.”
In this election, UW-Madison students also voted for members of the Student Services Finance Committee. SSFC is the branch of ASM that is responsible for overseeing the allocating nearly $51 million in segregated fees to various student organizations, services and facilities on campus.
“My goals as a member of the SSFC in the 28th session are to ensure fair and thorough consideration for funding our amazing student orgs and campus entities,” SSFC-elect and UW-Madison freshman Rachel Young said. “Student organizations, both educational and non-educational, are what makes Wisconsin such an amazing university, and it is our responsibility to fund them accordingly.”
The ballot also included a referendum, asking if students support ASM’s COVID-19 Student Relief Fund. An overwhelming majority of students voted in support of the fund, with 2,634 votes yes and 264 votes no. University administration is currently refusing to enact the fund, which ASM approved early this semester, as they claim it violates UW System policy.
“I am very glad that 90.9% of students who participated in the ASM Spring 2021 Election voted in support of the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund!” 27th session ASM Chair Matthew Mitnick said. “This demonstrates to the administration that students stand in solidarity with those currently facing housing insecurity or homelessness. It illustrates a further commitment to ensuring that access to housing remains a fundamental right, especially during the pandemic.”
“Considering that ASM has worked through the legal challenges with the Mask Ambassador position posting through a bylaws change, we are excited to renew the process to implement the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund in the final weeks of this session!" Mitnick said.
Despite enthusiasm from ASM leaders and support from UW-Madison students, UW-Madison says that the fund still cannot move forward.
“For the legal and policy reasons we’ve previously outlined, the university remains unable to implement the ASM proposal,” UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said. “Our focus continues to be providing emergency relief to students through the Office of Student Financial Aid. As of March 4, we have disbursed $8 million of the $9.89 million in HEERF II funding to 7,434 students, which accounts for about 16% of our total student population so far.”
Along with the continued push for the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund, elected ASM representatives plan to be the voice for student interests on campus.
“The biggest priority for me will be working with the BIPOC Coalition and students on campus to repair the damage done by our current UW Admin and past ASM leadership,” Student council representative elect Max Prestigiacomo said. “ASM must act as a mouthpiece for disenfranchised students, rather than worrying about upsetting University officials or breaking political decorum. If the University doesn’t understand how they are actively causing harm, it’s our job to make them understand. Lives are on the line.”
Prestigiacomo was one of 18 candidates endorsed by the “Student Relief Squad,” a coalition of UW-Madison students running to promote more progressive values in ASM.
“Overall, I will work to strengthen shared governance and continue to uplift the voices of marginalized students,” said Adrian Lampron, an elected representative that was endorsed by the Student Relief Squad. “More specifically, I plan to ensure that student input is valued in decision making about the expansion of in-person activities in the fall and that the university takes concrete steps to improve campus climate, especially for people of color and trans people.”
Only one out of the 18 candidates endorsed by the Squad did not get elected into either a student council or SSFC position.
“In the 27th session I leant the importance of drawing from each other’s strengths in speaking on behalf of students through the council,” said Lennox Owino, the 27th session Nominations Board Chair and 28th session student council-elect who was also endorsed by the Squad. “The incoming 28th session similarly has a group of fresh minds and ideas that I hope to tap into as we get to act as voices of our fellow students.”
Mitnick hopes that the 28th session of ASM continues to advocate for the students on campus who are not represented.
“I am proud that this session established a funding source for a Crisis Response Team to replace UWPD, fought for equitable grading policies such as Pass/Fail during the pandemic, reversed discriminatory hiring practices inflicted upon international student telecommuters, supported a Moral Restart, advocated for increased worker protections and rights, and took strong stances on policies in support of true justice,” Mitnick said. “I would advise student leaders in the 28th session of ASM to always be authentic and fight for what is moral.”
Before the 28th session of ASM takes office in April, the student representatives who were elected this week will be considered for the student council leadership roles within ASM.