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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Student regent introduces bill during meeting, surprises regents

Student regent Beth Richlen introduced a bill to add another student to the Board of Regents at Friday’s regents meeting.

According to the regents’ agenda and comments made by several board members, including Regent Peggy Rosenwig, Richlen handed out copies of the bill shortly before Friday’s meeting began. It was not planned for debate.

The bill, originally part of a Republican caucus, calls for the addition of a non-traditional student regent to the board. A non-traditional student is an undergraduate who is employed or has children, and is more than 24 years old. The bill specifies that the additional student regent must represent the views of non-traditional students.


Richlen, a traditional student, is serving a term of two years, while standard regents serve for seven years.

The board removed the last paragraph of Richlen’s handout before debating it further in a 10 to 6 vote. The deleted paragraph states the Board of Regents strongly encourages the Assembly to approve the measure and urges the governor to sign the bill into law.

The board then passed the amended resolution for further discussion in a 12 to 4 vote.

Regent Roger E. Axtell pointed out 41 percent of the UW System’s funding comes from student tuition.

“Students are the majority shareholder in the university,” Axtell said. “Another representative from this group would be helpful.”

But Axtell also noted the addition of another student regent would raise the board to 18 members, a number that could create a deadlock vote.

Regent Frederic E. Mohs said he was “strongly against” the bill.

“What this is is a victory for student government,” he said. “It’s a trophy to bring back.”

Mohs also said the board already hears from students regularly.

“Our relationship with students is healthy, robust and sufficient,” Mohs said. “We eat breakfast with them.”

Regent President Toby E. Marcovich and Vice President David G. Walsh are also opposed to the bill. Marcovich said the bill should have been previously screened by a committee, and Walsh expressed concern with the constituency another student would create on the board.

“I can definitely see why we should consider adding another student, and I can also see the value in adding a disabled student and possibly a veteran,” Walsh said. “I’m definitely not anti-student, but I do not support this bill.”

Marcovich questioned the message another student regent would send about the board, and pointed out that the student regent is the only regent with a predetermined voting stance.

“The student regent’s interests never vary — nobody else comes here with that baggage,” he said. “That’s good, that’s why they’re (the students) are there, because they have that constituency.”

Regent Gregory L. Gracz said the regents should “remember where they came from” before taking a stance on the bill.

“These are the brains in the ‘Brain Drain’ that we’re worrying about,” Gracz said in reference to the regents’ plan to retain more UW System graduates in Wisconsin.

Regent Charles Pruitt said the board should not be allowed to decide the board make-up for its own best interest.

Jeff Pertl, President of the United Council of UW Students and a UW graduate, said the council has been lobbying for another student regent for years.

Pertl said the council wants another student on the board, non-traditional or traditional.

“It’s very intimidating to sit on the Board of Regents, because they are all professional business leaders,” Pertl said. “Another student would provide moral support and would represent that student view more consistently.”

But Richlen and Pertl are not hung up on the details of the bill and are more focused on adding another student representative to the board.

“I think the students will be happy with anything right now,” Richlen said in the meeting.

Pertl agrees.

“Whatever the legislature wants to make it happen, we’re sort of willing to work with it,” he said.

Regent Nino Amato welcomed the change in procedure.

“It (meetings) normally isn’t like this,” he said. “It’s time we start mixing it up.”

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