With few changes, the University of Wisconsin’s student government unanimously passed its internal budget, which includes money for the “Green Fund,” a grant to promote sustainability on campus.
However, a decision regarding the Associated Students of Madison’s membership in the United States Student Association proved contentious as members of the body eventually voted not to fund the campus’ dues in the budget.
United States Student Association membership
ASM hosted several speakers to weigh the student government’s continued membership in USSA, while several representatives said they found the organization’s political stances to be offensive.
USSA is one of this country’s largest national student led organizations, Allie Gardner, a USSA representative, said. It prides itself on being inclusive of all types of students as well as representative of all student opinions and interests, and its goal is to represent the student body voice at the local, state and national level on student related issues, she said.
Policy papers on USSA’s website proved to be an issue for ASM members, including USSA’s stance on foreign policy, which representatives said are unrelated to students’ interests, and the USSA’s position on abortion and military recruitment, which some said were offensive.
Shared Governance Chair Sarah Neibart expressed her concern with USSA’s stance foreign policy. She said ASM should stay away from the organization and she was “insulted that the people in this organization are not multiculturally competent.”
However, Student Services Finance Committee Chair David Vines said although he understood the cons, he felt ASM should join USSA to be a part of the bigger picture.
Nonetheless, Rep. Maria Giannopoulos said her past involvement with the USSA at conference on campus last year made her feel uncomfortable at her own school. She said there are better student organizations out there that ASM should join.
After more than an hour of debate, ASM passed a motion to eliminate all budget funding for the USSA membership in a 12-9 vote.
The Green Fund
ASM Sustainability Committee Chair Will Mulhern addressed the “Green Fund,” a grant to promote sustainability on campus, that would be funded and executed by students, proposing an $80,000 budget for the project.
Mulhern said the fund would empower students on campus by giving them a voice in the campus’ sustainability efforts. Mulhern emphasized environmental sustainability is growing worldwide and the “Green Fund” would be a great way to stimulate student-driven solutions on campus.
Any student will be able to propose a project and apply for a grant and the $80,000 budget for the fund would be split in six different student grants, Mulhern said. These projects will be related to sustainability efforts like energy efficiency and water conservation, he said.
Mulhern said $80,000 was a lot less than “Green Funds” at other large schools, like Michigan State and University of Maryland, College Park. A large amount of money is necessary so that UW would see change and yield results quickly, he said.
ASM members questioned who would decide which student projects are chosen and how the money would be distributed. Mulhern proposed appointing a “Green Fund Board” that would be in charge of the projects and said ASM members would be involved in choosing the final projects.
The council voted for the “Green Fund” to be included in the ASM internal budget.
ASM Internal Budget
After weeks of discussion, ASM also passed its internal budget. Components of the budget were discussed such as the finance committee secretary, the housing fair and the decrease in money allocated to the press director and office. ASM members cheered as the motion to pass the budget was passed unanimously.
The total amount passed for the Internal Budget is currently unavailable as some fringe costs still need to be determined, ASM spokesperson Grace Bolt said.