Raking in the second highest voter turnout in school history, the University of Wisconsin’s student government elections Wednesday saw the approval of the $223 million Recreational Sports Master Plan.
Some 14,098 of the 40,971 enrolled students at UW completed the Associated Students of Madison spring ballots. The 34.4 percent total voter turnout fell just short of ASM’s record high turnout of 34.5 percent, which happened in 2010 when the Natatorium renovation and naming of Union South were on the ballot.
The Master Plan was passed with 12,070 students voting to support the proposal and 1,914 voting against the plan.
The plan includes renovations of the Natatorium, the Southeast Recreational Facility and the Near East and Near West Fields.
Students will fund a maximum of 57 percent of the project. Forty-three percent of the funding for the plan has already been secured through alternative funding measures from the UW Foundation, UW Athletics, private donors and the state.
Construction will begin in 2015 and is expected to be completed in 2022.
Maria Giannopoulos was elected senior class president, and said she hopes to consult students about changes being made to commencement. She said she hopes to gather feedback about the speaker, format, venue and issue of names being read during the ceremony.
Concerns about ASM’s disconnect with the general student body were raised during a press conference with the new representatives.
Jessica Franco-Morales, an elected representative for the College of Letters and Science, said she believes this disconnect can be resolved through increased transparency between ASM and the student body.
“We shouldn’t be giving feedback, we should be getting it,” Franco-Morales said.
Andre Hunter, ASM secretary and elected representative for L&S, suggested using ASM’s resources to connect with the student body. He said he would like to reinstate ASM town hall meetings to increase student involvement.
Andy Stoiber, another newly-elected L&S rep, said he wants to start live-tweeting ASM meetings or writing editorials for student newspapers.
The new representatives said they would like to increase campus outreach.
Citing concerns about a possible increase in out-of-state tuition, elected representatives said they would use their power to its full extent to represent students affected by this issue.
Returning ASM member Megan Phillips said the university was becoming too dependent on tuition and officials need to understand these responsibilities cannot fall on the backs of the students.
The elected members had mixed reactions regarding the high voter turnout.
“I am so happy for the voter turnout. I think it’s sad that we can only get this large of a turnout when a referendum is being passed,” Franco-Morales said, “Some of them may not even care about the ASM election. We need to let students know that we are the voice of the students.”