State Assembly representative Katrina Shankland visited the university last Friday to tour the campus, speak with faculty, and meet students.
“I like being on campus,” Shankland said. “There is so much energy on campus. I feel like we are all accomplishing something together and I think that is very valuable. One of the things that I feel when I come here is that I am seeing future legislatures, nurses, doctors, teachers and professors. I’ve always been supportive but this definitely helps illustrate the value of UWSP in more quantifiable terms. Universities add a huge amount of value to the community.”
Over 60 Wisconsin legislators were invited by the Student Government Association to spend a day at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point this semester. Ryan Specht and David Boardman, President and Vice President of the SGA, are hoping that the visit will improve relationships between UWSP and state legislators.
“The visit with Katrina Shankland was very successful, as we were able to show her campus and converse about issues pertaining to students,” said Rachel Siebers, the Legislative Issues Director for the SGA. “We have been presented with many opportunities for the future and hope to have several other legislators visitcampus throughout the semester.” As part of her day on campus, Shankland toured the Suites@201, taking a special interest in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification.
“She was very pleasant, very interested in how the students participate in the environmental efforts in the Residential Living,” said Cindy Von Gnechten, the Residential Living Facilities Designer. “I think any opportunity where we can offer collaboration and unity certainly across campus as well as involving the different legislatures and opening the door and allowing them to see what we are all about certainly improves relationships.”
Shankland also had a luncheon with faculty and student leaders, taking time out of the day to discuss whatever issues they had on their minds.“I got to see some common threads and had some great discussion, talked a lot about how we can work together to accomplish common goals with the legislature,” Shankland said. “Number one is looking at the UW funding issue and also making sure that faculty have the resources they need, and making sure that students can graduate in four years.”
Zest Café hosted Coffee with Katrina, a public event for students to come meet Shankland, ask questions or just have a cup of coffee with her. Shankland ordered iced tea and brought free highway maps to hand out to anyone who attended.
“I heard from students a lot that their leadership roles on campus empowers them, and I knew that already but hearing it repeatedly from an individual and then seeing it personally really developed a strong case for the value of UW,” Shankland said. “I hope that the other legislators look at their campuses and UWSP and see that demonstrated.”
Shankland said she believes that having legislators tour the campus is a good way to improve relationships between them and the university. She also hopes that more legislators will follow in her footsteps and take the SGA up on their invitations.
“UWSP has some interesting and unique needs that need to be addressed,” Shankland said. “What I have seen is when individual universities compete next to each other they might not be united. What I would like to see is legislatures from all over the state understand that each university has its own challenges and its own strength but we need to be working together. I think if every legislator could tour more than one university it would help them understand the things they are planning.”