Members of University of Wisconsin’s student government unanimously passed a proposed Tenant Bill of Rights that allows the Associated Students of Madison to endorse landlords that abide by certain standards deemed to improve the living situation of students.
The proposal includes a wide variety of restrictions on the actions that landlords can take on residents, and those who abide by them will be endorsed by the student government. Requirements from the legislation range from a mandatory 24-hour notification before entering premises to issues like security deposits and termination of lease.
Ryan Prestil, Legislative Affairs Committee intern and author of the Tenant Bill of Rights legislation, said he consulted with the university law department “to ensure that wording and definition were in accordance with existing law.”
While the legislation is not legally binding, its purpose is to encourage landlords to seek the endorsement of Student Council as a way to attract tenants. The Legislative Affairs Committee, working with the ASM Press Office, will get signatures for the Tenant Bill of Rights, according to an ASM statement.
Student Council also addressed the advancement of action on changes to the ethnic study requirements. Changes include the timing of when students must take ethnic studies classes, as well as reduced class sizes for discussions.
Diversity Committee Chair Mia Akers said she was optimistic about how the research conducted by the Ethnic Studies Subcommittee will address what students are looking for in these classes.
“I think these are all great steps, moving the process forward,” Akers said. “Now the biggest thing is to push for, is to have it [proposed changes] in the campus diversity plan.”
Student Council will forward its findings to the University’s Equity, Diversity and Educational Achievement Program for consideration by Vice Provost Damon Williams. The program is currently working on a campus diversity plan to increase diversity throughout the entire university.
While Akers said she was optimistic about the implementation of these results, other representatives expressed concern about the process and the amount of time it has taken for changes to be implemented.
Rep. Libby Wick-Bander displayed frustration with the slow development of the campus diversity plan.
“We are three years late on a diversity plan, how do we hold him accountable on this?” she said.
Wick-Bander said Williams was able to write a book about implementing a diversity plan in the last three years, but has not been able to implement one at UW. She said he has spent more time writing about how to be a good diversity officer than actually being one.
Williams’ book, “The Chief Diversity Officer: Strategy, Structure, and Change Management,” is set to be released June of this year.
“I’ve been trying to get a meeting with Damon for the last three months and I just got one today,” Akers said in response to the concerns expressed regarding the difficult connection between the subcommittee and the vice provost.
Akers said Williams will be held accountable through his presence at planning meetings.
Furthermore, she said Williams recently invited the ASM subcommittee to the core planning committee of the Campus Diversity Plan.
Akers said ultimately she does think the Campus Diversity Plan is long overdue. However, she added that although she would like to see the plan move quickly, it will likely be very complex process that deserves robust development since it concerns diversity.