KATE BRENNER/Herald photo

Joan Ballweg Part IV-VI

State Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, considers herself to be a true "traditionalist" when it comes to issues of marriage and family.

Ballweg, the vice chairman of the state Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee, said she understands domestic partner benefits has become a concern with retaining and recruiting some faculty, but added legal benefits come through when a couple is committed in a traditional way.

Ballweg said she hates to lose valuable faculty members and admits the current policy to help retain them is not as effective as it could be. However, she does not favor adding domestic partner benefits as a way to reconcile this problem.

"I do not favor domestic partner benefits on any level," Ballweg said. "People move up in stature by changing jobs. … It happens in everything in professional sports and every type of industry."

University of Wisconsin College Democrats Chair Oliver Kiefer said not having domestic partner benefits creates a problem to retain faculty, and added a number of key professors have left or do not want to come to Wisconsin because they believe the policy here is unfair.

Kiefer added without top researchers, UW is also losing valuable research dollars that could benefit the university.

"I think equal rights in the United States is a traditional value," Kiefer said. "[Ballweg] calls herself a traditionalist, but is doing something that is not traditional and detrimental for our school."

Ballweg said she is also traditional when it comes to family issues and understands these issues are discussed among individuals of all ages, especially college-age women. She is a pro-life politician in terms of abortion and end-of-life matters and supports the Wisconsin Right to Life nonprofit group.

"From personal background and experiences I see the value in life that has been created," Ballweg said. "When we have that unexpected situation, there are opportunities and options for women to handle this in a variety of ways — offering the baby for adoption or to other family members."

UW College Republicans Chair Sara Mikolajzak said she agrees with Ballweg's position, and would call herself "very pro-life."

"I believe that life starts at conception," Mikolajzak said. "If an individual is going to engage in the action of creating a baby they should be mature enough to engage in the consequences of having a child."

Further, Ballweg said she understands contraception is a legal substance and available to all individuals, but hopes people are engaging in sexual activity responsibly and in committed relationships involving marriage.

"I would consider myself more of a promoter of abstinence before a marriage," Ballweg said.

In addition, Ballweg said she wanted to serve on this committee because she wanted to represent students who do not come from college towns — the rural kid who wants the opportunity to attend one of the UW System colleges or universities.

Currently, Ballweg said she is pleased with the UW System budget, but is committed to building further bridges between technical colleges and the state. She also wants to see an increase in financial aid opportunities so even nontraditional students can afford to attend college.

"I would love to see more jobs, more development, more partnership with private industry and technical colleges," Ballweg said. "An investment in students' future is ultimately an investment in Wisconsin's future."