Whitewater Student Government (WSG) just passed a new bill for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater addressing a possible proposal for excused absences on election days. The Excused Absence on Election Days Act is a suggestion to the Chancellor’s Cabinet to establish civic engagement.
“There are so many barriers that the average voter faces when trying to vote in an election. Voters my age and in my age bracket are one of the lowest turnout demographics. I wanted to provide a thoughtful recommendation to the provost and instructional staff where we could make some ground on voter participation,” said Will Hinz, Esker Senator. “Collectively we are informing one another that we should be doing more to help students vote.”
The Excused Absence on Election Days Act is not here to mandate that every professor gives everyone a day off of class for election days. The act was designed to push professors into giving students, who give due notice, no penalties for missing instruction time thanks to voting.
“We have lots of commuters here who have to drive a couple of hours to get to campus and voting booths are usually packed early in the morning for people who are on their way to work and then they are packed in the afternoons with people on their way back,” said Davin Stavroplos, WSG Speaker of the Senate. “The best time to vote is during the day.”
The intent behind this bill, as explained by Director of Student Affairs Ethan Hoeppner, is to help students perform their civic duties. “This is not WSG pushing for a policy change in regards to election days. This is solely a recommendation to the provost and the instructional staff.”
But one of the biggest reasons that this bill passed 18-4 on Monday is that it resonates with each of the six university’s core values.
“Beginning with collaboration, this bill is calling for a line of communication between students and instructors,” said Hinz. “This effort requires a lot of collaboration and mutual understanding. Diversity and opportunity, the recommendation from WSG provides this opportunity to all students, especially those students who have hectic schedules. Integrity, there has to be a level of trust between student and instructor and this provides that opportunity to do so. I trust my peers and their intentions to be here and earn a degree … Learning and academic excellence, I recognize and I understand instruction time is vital at all times, having open communication between student and instructor provides a catchall for things missed … Service and social responsibility, voting embodies both of these core values.
Finally, shared governance. This bill provides a great topic that should be discussed and debated in the chambers of the Faculty Senate and Academic Assembly. After all, we all share the same core values of the university and are here to support students.”