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Student Recognition Program gives back to student employees

By Brooke Appe

Anyone who’s been inside either Memorial Union or Union South knows that students make up a large portion of employees. Whether they are keeping the buildings tidy and presentable, serving up quality food from a variety of restaurants or assisting patrons with questions, it’s apparent that all student employees constitute an integral part in fulfilling the Wisconsin Union’s mission every day.

Student Employment Advisory Group

To show this appreciation for students who have devoted a large portion of the time at UW-Madison gracing the Union with their hard work and dedication, the Memorial Union Building Association (MUBA) and Student Employee Advisory Group (SEAG) implemented the Student Employee Recognition Program, which gives the Union’s graduating student employees “experiences for a lifetime” at a discounted price based on their years of employment.

Originally brought up by Rose-Mary Rupnow, a MUBA trustee and class of ’49 alumna, the idea to recognize these students’ contributions was an objective several years in the making.

“It seemed like it would be a simple project to thank student employees for their dedication to the Union and reward them for quality work. But there were a lot of logistical issues that had to be figured out before a recognition program could be implemented–like how would it be funded, how would we determine eligibility, and what would the incentive actually would be,” said Lucy Lloyd, a MUBA trustee who was instrumental in propelling this idea forward as current chair of the MUBA membership committee.

Lucy stressed that all of these important decisions and developments were a collaborative effort between MUBA, SEAG, the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) and other Union staff.

“The key was having the Student Employee Advisory Group interested in the project and they really got it going,” said Lucy.

The Rathskeller in Memorial Union is just one of the many places at which students can work in the Wisconsin Union.

SEAG has been an important resource for student employees at the Union since it’s inception in 2008. By providing a forum for employee questions and concerns, initiating programs and events for student employee recognition, and managing a student employee recognition fund to carry out these events, SEAG has been a valuable asset to the Union’s student workforce and their interests. This is especially made clear by this significant effort.

“It’s important to show student employees that the Union has appreciated them. If we give them a discount on life membership based on their longevity working here, it gives them an incentive to come back once they graduate, fosters community, and allows this iconic place to be with them for a lifetime,” said SEAG Co-chair, senior Greg Zaloom.

Greg, a UW-Madison senior and co-chair of SEAG, started working for the Union in the fall of 2009 at Lakefront on Langdon at Memorial Union, and joined SEAG the summer of his sophomore year. As a student who has spent the majority of his college career working at the Union, he is a perfect testament to the positive experiences that students can gain through a job at the Union, from creating lasting friendships to gaining valuable work experience.

“I think I like the people here the most. I think it’s a lot of fun getting work with students and growing with them,” said Greg. “I started my freshman year, met people and we all stuck together. I’ve made a lot of friends and we’ll keep those friendships after we graduate.”

SEAG Co-chair Greg Zaloom

Those involved in this important program wanted to emphasize that dedication pays off, not only through benefits like this discount, but in the traits one acquires through working to represent an organization that is the “heart and soul” of UW-Madison.

“My own son worked at the front desk for five years and he learned to deal with all types of people. You learn that you have to follow through and get the job done,” said Lucy.

“I think that some of the skills you learn from a part-time job can be valuable to a job you get after graduation. The things you learn in class are quantitative, but learning how to work in a team with superiors and subordinates is really important to know once you graduate,” said Greg.

The Student Recognition Program aims to foster learning through hard work, and give a big thank you to all the students who have chosen to do so at the Wisconsin Union.

Special thanks to Jan Montgomery, Rosemary Rupnow, Margaret Tennessen and Sarah Artz.


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