When the Committee to Review Allocable Segregated Fee
Policies was formed at the beginning of the year, we were encouraged to see a
system so racked by inefficiency and legal battles get some much needed
attention and possible reform. While the gravy train committee was formed out
of the Board of Regents' desire to prevent segregated fees from funding off-campus
rent — and much of the committee sought to codify this in the governing
documents of segregated fees — we hoped the committee would look beyond this
Last Tuesday, the committee finalized its recommendations
for segregated fee policies, which will now be sent to the University of Wisconsin
System President Kevin Reilly for approval. The revisions would prohibit the Student
Services Finance Committee from funding off-campus rent and non-university
employees with segregated fees.
While these changes may not be groundbreaking revisions to
the segregated fee system, they at least solidify the notion that these funds
are "segregated university funds," and therefore, should be used only for
student-run services. Not only does funding non-university resources place UW
on shaky legal ground, it begins to distort the true student service element of
the segregated fee system.
While the committee certainly fulfilled its charge, the
effort could have gone further.
Committee chair and UW Stevens Point Chancellor Linda
Bunnell, according to a Badger Herald report, said, "While I don't think you'll see any substantial changes to the policy,
some campuses came in with good suggestions and ideas but, in many cases, they
were not really questions of the document."
Ms. Bunnell may explain away
more detailed questions as being "beyond the scope" of the committee, but this
was up to their discretion. The focus may have been off-campus rent, but there
was room to explore related issues, which the committee failed to do. To their
credit, students involved in the committee did bring up other issues, such as
funding student lobbying efforts. The committee could have benefited from a
further evaluation of these student concerns.
However, students' belief
that these changes will severely limit their control over segregated fees is
without merit. These modifications to policy are a step in the right direction
toward reforming the segregated fee system. While students may feel their
rights are being taken away, some controls are necessary to ensure that the
system currently in place is legal and serves its initial purpose. For this
reason, we stand behind the committee's decision.