Students gathered in the hallway outside Chancellor Biddy Martin’s office in Bascom Hall Friday to urge the University of Wisconsin’s chief executive to plot an alternate course for the school’s future.
For more than an hour, Chancellor Biddy Martin fielded questions and criticism from students concerning her stance on the controversial New Badger Partnership and said the university would not go to the high tuition, high financial aid model of private institutions.
Martin said the public authority model would promote tuition at the median level of UW’s peers with high need-based aid availability, a position she has promoted for nearly three years.
She also said should the status quo continue, tuition will go up as the same rate as other UW System institutions, and the university will not be able to hold students from low income households harmless from these increases.
Martin maintained while the current political climate in the state may not be ideal and she considers it short-sighted not to invest in higher education, it is important to seize the opportunity for autonomy presented by the current proposal.
“It’s as if you think this not going through means things will get better,” she said. “Tuition would increase as much as under the new model but we would have the necessary tools.”
Associated Students of Madison representative Leland Pan asked Martin why the Board of Regents would not support the proposal if it would actually strengthen UW’s relationship with other schools.
Pan also charged the public authority model would cause the homogenization of the student body and would promote a lack of diversity as a result of tuition spikes.
“All students I know that support the New Badger Partnership are middle class and white,” he said.
Martin fired back that she, nor any other student, has any way of knowing the support for the Partnership demonstrates any particular divide down racial or socioeconomic lines.
She added groups that currently work for diversity on campus will be held harmless and Madison Initiative for Undergraduates funds granted to departments would be revoked if an effort to diversify the faculty with new hiring is not seen.
Damon Terrell, a member of the Autonomous Solidarity Organization, expressed discontent with Martin’s advocacy for a plan for increased flexibilities, instead of uniting with other UW System chancellors to oppose all cuts to education.
Martin responded that members of the campus community must deal with the hand they were dealt in the governor’s biennial budget.
“We were told to take cuts, period,” she said.
She added she also fears faculty will depart for institutions that can offer competitive pay plans and said the provost is keeping lists of faculty leaving campus and receiving offers from other universities, noting she hears from professors weighing departure on a daily basis.
Xander Gieryn, a member of Student Labor Action Coalition and UW freshman, criticized an email from Martin to the student body urging them to voice support for the proposal and questioned how shared governance was involved in hiring private lobbyists.
Martin said the lobbyists, who established the Badger Advocates organization, were hired by alumni and UW is not paying for their services.