Press Clippings & Releases

Press Clipping: Fletcher and Watne prepare for goodbye

Fletcher and Watne prepare for goodbye
Kaitlin Bezdicek
Staff Writer

Student Body President Logan Fletcher and Vice President Eric Watne are nearing the end of their term in one of the most visible leadership positions for UND students.

In reflection, Fletcher and Watne say they used their term to fulfill a platform that would hopefully bring a new energy to Student Government through reinvestment, involvement, support and experience.

"We brought in years of experience with Student Government and other organizations and put the knowledge we have to use," Fletcher and Watne said in a joint email response. "A lot of the changes might not be visible for students until next year, but laying the groundwork for these changes is necessary."

Throughout the course of their term, the two saw a lot of accomplishment in reinvestment. Fletcher chaired a committee to evaluate how student fees are allocated within Student Government programs as well as throughout the grander university system.

"Taking part in this process was a great step along the way to Student Fees going to the essential areas of campus to benefit students," Fletcher said. "I believe our Student Senators did a much better job of communicating fee spending to their constituents than has been done in the past."

Putting fees to use
A student body survey aided the team in determining students' interests for the Readership Program – a program that uses fees to purchase newspapers for students.

"We feel we did very well working to reinvest Student Government resources," Fletcher said. "Bringing in the New York Times instead of The Star Tribune and USA Today managedto save over $10,000."

An even larger figure, $60,000, was saved through eliminating the "Cab Crawler" program of old and adopting the new Student Safe Ride program. Instead of subsidizing cab prices through a contract, the Nodak Cab company offers affordable rates as a service to keep students safe.

More recommendations will be made after a consultant from the American Student Government Association releases an evaluation of UND's Student Government.

"We know that most students won't credit those changes to our term, but doing the research and investing in that partnership may be the most beneficial thing we've done for the future of UND students and Student Government," Fletcher and Watne said.

While campaigning last year, the two underestimated how much time their positions demanded and therefore, their goals to meet with students and student organizations weren't fully met.

"We realize we could have done better and are working with the president-elect and vice president-elect to help set realistic goals and expectations while developing ways to achieve improved outreach during their term," Fletcher and Watne said.

Like many years in the past, Student Government struggled to fill its 23 student senate positions.

"Moving into spring semester, my focus was truly more so on recruiting students who would run for next year's term to stay involved then," Fletcher said.

Next term, Senate will begin with each position filled and Fletcher said this "is a position we never found ourselves in."

Preparing a path for a better future for students at UND has always been an overall goal.

The biannual state legislative session provided opportunities for the team to fulfill the promise of supporting students at the state level yet provided for a busy term.

"It's still difficult with how the legislative schedule works because we are often given short notice of when we are needed in Bismarck," Fletcher said. "But Shane Gerbert, the governmental affairs commissioner, was exceptional at keeping us informed and making time to travel to Bismarck himself when we couldn't make it.

"Tyler Herbst, the chief of staff, has done an excellent job helping us with tasks on campus when we are not able to be here also."

Under Fletcher-Watne leadership, resolutions to support a tuition freeze and state funding for a new medical school and law school renovations went to Bismarck.

At the local and campus level, the promise of support came through fighting for intellectual property rights for students and working with the city officials to create internships.

The students who did serve in Student Senate seemed to bring the new energy Fletcher and Watne wanted. From heated discussions in senate meetings and increases in student feedback and participation in the current election, there was a more engaged and energized sentiment.

"While we always prefer collaboration and cooperation, I think that passionate conversation shows that students are becoming aware of policies, procedures and the work that Student Government is doing,"Fletcher and Watne said. "Next year will continue to show an increased energy, excitement and passion for the work."

Fletcher and Watne came into office building the relationships with administrators and staff that they secured in their past positions in Student Government. They hope to transfer these relationships over to president-elect and Nick Creamer and vice president-elect Lexi Hanson.

"The sooner those relationships are created, the stronger they can become, so we're making that a priority," Fletcher said.

Fletcher and Watne have already begun working with the new team and will officially transfer the position to Creamer and Hanson on April 28.