I find interim Chancellor David Ward’s letter to the campus from last week about the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group to be full of excuses for why students should not be able to fund WISPIRG. Frankly, it is full of a whole lot of nothing.
First off, the arguments presented by Ward are not grounded in the relevant policy (I encourage you to read F50, the University of Wisconsin System’s segregated fee policy, for yourself.) He seems to imply that as students, we are not capable of looking at the policy and making informed decisions about how to allocate our fees.
I have seen Ward disrespect shared governance and student voices on this campus time and time again. Personally, I have been engaged in issues on campus, from the No New Seg Fees campaign to the New Badger Partnership protests. As a somewhat active member of a broader part of our campus community, I maintain that this decision flies in the face of shared governance.
UW students have made the decision to allow WISPIRG to stay on campus! WISPIRG was able to gather 4,500 signatures in support of their organization, more than it takes to trigger a referendum and roughly two-thirds of the students who voted in the most recent election!
Groups like WISPIRG exist to ensure students and our university are able to tackle some of the biggest issues of our generation, like the influence or corporate spending in elections, the growing cost of education or the rising threat of climate change. Much like similar political and moral issues of the past, these issues should be something that universities scramble to prove they care about. WISPIRG fills a void in the university and represents the rights of students who want to organize themselves.
I ask Chancellor Ward to take another look at the policy, respect students and reconsider WISPIRG’s contract.
Maxwell John Love (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior majoring in political science and African American studies.