In regard to the recent editorial on Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, The Badger Herald Editorial Board is completely missing the point.
And when the Herald Editorial Board — which calls itself the voice of the
University of Wisconsin’s “premier student newspaper” — refuses to call this
an issue of student power or shared governance, it is letting him take that
power away from the very students it claims to represent.
When I was chair of ASM, I saw time and again the decisions of students treated as recommendations rather than an exercise of decision-making power or shared governance. Whether these decisions are related to WISPIRG or the budgets of other campus entities such as Recreational Sports or the Wisconsin Union, the bottom line is state statute grants students the responsibility and right to allocate a portion of their segregated fees. But the university continues to ignore the wishes of students.
As students we retain primary control over just 7 percent of segregated fees that are paid by students to fund campus activities for student groups, and we can’t let that power go.
If students want to fund staff to advocate on behalf of students and help run effective campaigns on issues like fighting global warming, increasing youth voter turnout and engagement and protecting Wisconsin’s [word missing??], then we should be able to fund them.
The Editorial Board’s claim that paying professional staff is bending the rules of F50 is patently false. F50 specifically states students may fund non-university professional services if the service being provided meets a set of criteria, and ASM has looked at the criteria and decided WISPIRG is eligible. The Herald and UW should applaud students’ decision to carry out the Wisconsin Idea in this way.
The chancellor’s refusal to honor the decision of Student Service Finance Committee despite multiple requests doesn’t just hurt groups like WISPIRG, but shows a lack of respect for the right of students to make decisions about the allocation of our segregated fees. In this instance the chancellor, with little consultation to SSFC or ASM, refused to grant the contract and thus provide the approved funding to WISPIRG despite numerous requests from ASM. This is not the first time ASM has recommended a contract for WISPIRG; in fact, many past sessions of ASM have done so, and until this year the chancellor has approved the contract every time.
I hope the chancellor respects our decision and honors the students’ rights to determine how we spend our money. It is our role as students to make these decisions, and for the sake of students on this campus we need to continue to advocate for that right.