Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wiley sends student budgets back for more consideration

More than a month after receiving a $27 million budget proposal to fund various student organizations and services, Chancellor John Wiley returned the proposal to the Associated Students of Madison with numerous recommended changes.

Wiley has asked the Conference Committee — which was specially formed by ASM Student Council to handle the situation — to reconsider the budgets of Recreational Sports and six student organizations, including the University of Wisconsin Roman Catholic Foundation.

In a letter addressed to the committee's co-chairs obtained by the Badger Herald, Wiley initially asked the committee to make a decision on his recommendations by April 12. However, that deadline has since been pushed back one week to April 19.


Most of the proposed changes to the organizations' budgets stem from an Oct. 15, 2004 memo from UW System legal services that states student fees cannot be used to fund "improvements, maintenance and overhead" expenses for facilities not owned or partially leased by the university.

The criterion applies to all six organizations mentioned in Wiley's letter — which, along with UWRCF, include the Jewish Cultural Collective, Sex Out Loud, Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow and the Tenant Resource Center — because they are all located in off-campus buildings.

However, the majority of Wiley's proposed changes dealt directly with UWRCF, which had a tumultuous budgetary process beginning last September, when it was initially denied funding by the Student Services Finance Committee.

Along with a proposed cut of more than $35,000 from the foundation's budget for utility expenses, Wiley asked the Conference Committee to reconsider the religious nature of the foundation's activities, personnel and printing — which the chancellor said in the letter cannot be funded with university or state funds, per the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Wiley also said in the letter that because UWRCF was not a registered student organization it could not, according to UW System policy, be funded with student fees. However, Wiley granted UWRCF a "one-year, one-time-only exemption" from this rule because of a contradiction with ASM bylaws.

After being presented with Wiley's proposal, many Conference Committee representatives questioned why, for only the second time in ASM history, the chancellor would possibly overrule ASM's decision on "allocated" budgets — which include all UW student organizations.

"It's because of UWRCF alone," committee representative Eric Saar said. "For the university, it's a politically savvy move for them to bring back a bunch instead of one."

Other representatives questioned who had final say on student organization funding — ASM or the chancellor — but the answer might be neither.

"If the chancellor has the authority to overturn SSFC and Student Council decisions … what's the difference between [allocable] and non-allocable budgets, if we don't have final say on them?" representative Zach Frey asked.

Under Wisconsin state statute 36.09 (5) and UW System Regent policy, university students and the chancellor are only to work in "consultation" with each other before creating a budget proposal to send to the Board of Regents — who will make the "final confirmation."

However, before the budget reaches the board, according to UW Regent policy, the chancellor must discuss "any changes s/he recommends" to the "allocable" segregated-fee budget with students for their "consideration and decision."

While this is the process that began Thursday, some representatives wondered what would happen should ASM disagree with the chancellor's recommendations and decide not to implement them.

Should that situation arise, it is unclear to many representatives what budget would be proposed to the board — the students' or the chancellor's.

"It's an interesting question," Saar said after the meeting.

"Personally, I don't think he would do it," Saar added, referring to the possibility of Wiley overruling the committee's budgetary decision.

While the chancellor overturning an ASM allocable budgetary decision is a situation many representatives called "unprecedented," it actually happened once before in 2003.

In February of that year, after SSFC originally denied funding to the El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan — known as MEChA — Wiley, citing university provision GAP 15, reversed the decision and granted the student organization funding.

When the Board of Regents ultimately approves the segregated-fee budgets, the cost will be divvied up among the UW student body and will be added on top of next year's tuition.

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