Members of the Associated Students of Madison held a town-hall-style meeting Wednesday night in Gordon Commons to inform University of Wisconsin students about ASM and its various programs and campaigns for the academic year.
A variety of topics was presented at the meeting, ranging from ASM’s role in Halloween celebrations to rising tuition. Members and chairs of various ASM and Student Council committees were present to answer questions from students.
Legislative Affairs Committee chair Kelly Egan, a UW sophomore, kicked off the meeting with a discussion on rising tuition costs at UW. Egan said ASM is working to represent the student body at the state level in opposition of the proposed tuition hikes.
ASM plans to meet with the Joint Committee of Finance to tell the members that students do not support the tuition increases.
“The budget has been balanced on the back of students for long enough,” Egan said.
The committee also addressed the problem UW students faced earlier this semester when police officers arrested some students for “camping” at the Kohl Center while waiting in line for sports tickets.
Sophomore Eyal Halamish, Shared Governance committee chair, said the problem has been resolved. Madison police will no longer handle the problem and it is now in the hands of Chancellor John Wiley, he said.
“[UWPD] no longer will be doing that (citing students for camping) next year,” Halamish said.
Representatives also discussed ASM’s involvement in the Halloween celebrations last month. ASM sponsored a costume contest and sold food with the intention of curbing riots and creating a safer Halloween atmosphere for UW students.
Freshman Caroline Simon, an intern for ASM’s Halloween 2004 campaign, said ASM feels its involvement in Halloween events was a success. The group is still looking for ways to make next year’s Halloween even safer than this year’s, Simon added.
“We’re still talking with police to see what they think we should be doing next year,” Simon said.
ASM members also said they will launch a campaign to make sure an amendment opposing same-sex marriages does not pass in the Wisconsin State Legislature.
Council secretary Adam Schlicht, a UW junior, and ASM chair Emily McWilliams addressed this issue, stating ASM will become involved to ensure that potential UW faculty and staff members with same-sex partners are not discouraged to come work in Wisconsin.
“Basically, if the amendment goes to the state and passes, then all people employed by the state, including UW faculty and staff, will not get benefits for same-sex partners,” Schlicht said.
Members also addressed the media portrayal of an excessive amount of “in-fighting” within ASM. Many members denied the claims, saying they may disagree, but it is part of what makes a good student government run.
“The unique part about this council is we’re really diverse — really different people willing to discuss and defend our viewpoints,” Schlicht said.
Many ASM council members said there is a need for more student feedback and participation for the group’s campaigns to be more effective. A variety of members mentioned several times that student involvement and feedback is essential to make sure ASM accurately represents UW students.
UW sophomore Steven Thunander attended the meeting and said he was surprised that more students do not become involved in the student government.
“It was a very informational meeting; however, I am very disappointed [to hear about] the student apathy towards general involvement on campus,” Thunander said.