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Dean of Students Lori Berquam hears student opinions on allocation of services funded through the Madison Initiative.[/media-credit]

University of Wisconsin students voiced proposals to faculty in a public forum Monday on how the student services portion of the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates funds should be allocated.

The Madison Initiative will generate these funds to improve the undergraduate experience by raising tuition $250 per year for four years for in-state students and $750 per year for out-of-state students.

Fifteen percent of these total funds are planned to go toward student services, totaling around $1.5 million, while 50 and 35 percent will go toward student aid and faculty hiring and retention, respectively.

The forum served as a precursor to the creation of a permanent student oversight board which will hear student proposals for fund allocation and carry them through to the Chancellor’s Office for approval.

This board will have five positions students are encouraged to apply for by the Oct. 6 deadline.

Tyler Junger, chair of the Associated Students of Madison, will also lead the student oversight committee. He added ASM provisioned the creation of the committee when Chancellor Biddy Martin brought the orig-inal Madison Initiative proposal before the stu-dent governing body last spring.

Proposals for allocation of Madison Initiative funds should be unique to the goals of the program and should not seek funding for things that have other avenues to do so, Junger said.

“One of the main focuses of the Madison Initiative is about new innovations,” Dean of Students Lori Berquam said.

Students who attended the forum suggested using the funds to improve undergraduate advising, to fund open-source textbooks and to better utilize technology in in-struction, among other things.

Non-academic student advising was also a topic of discussion, with students expressing desires for peer advising regarding acclimation to campus for freshmen as well as transfer students.

Textbook affordability was a particular interest to many students present at the meeting.

Scott Thompson, chair of the Wisconsin Student Public Interest Research Group, proposed funding the creation of open-source textbooks, which would be compiled cooperatively by professors within a field and would be available to students online for free.

Once submitted, formal proposals of this nature will be passed on to the Office of the Provost, where they will be either selected or rejected based on their consistency with the goals of the Madison Initiative.

If the proposal regards student services, it will then be passed on to the Student Oversight Committee before going to Shared Governance Committee, with both student and faculty representatives.

The proposal is then sent back to the Provost’s Office for selection, back to Student Oversight Committee and Shared Governance Committee for a double-check, then ultimately to the Chancellor’s Office for the final decision.

If the proposal involves faculty hires, it will bypass the Student Oversight Committee and go straight to the Shared Governance Committee.

Berquam said a particular concern with hiring new professors for undergraduate courses, particularly in the sciences, is to ensure they are motivated to teach and inspire students and not here simply to pursue their own independent research.