The student government voted in support of endorsing a campus-wide student walkout in opposition of the proposed budget repair bill during their meeting Wednesday evening.
The Associated Students of Madison voted in favor of supporting the walkout, which encourages University of Wisconsin students to abstain from attending classes on Thursday as part of the rallies taking place in response to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal.
Student Council Representative Tyler Junger said the university relies on bodies like ASM to support the event.
“It won’t work to simply talk in front of legislators. As students, we don’t have a foot in the door,” Junger said. “The only thing that will work is showing [legislators] how many people will be hurt and will lose the benefit of a quality public education if this passes.”
Secretary Cody Ostenson said ASM should take advantage of its ability to represent the rights of students on campus.
Ostenson added the walkout would be a good place for ASM to start in terms of reconstructing its reputation of being a body that typically does nothing.
“If your philosophy of student council does not include protecting this university and our students, then I question why you are here,” Ostenson said. “This [walkout] directly affects our future at this university. I believe that this body needs to start doing something, just like I’ve been hearing.”
Representative Sarah Neibart said she thought the student council members were allowing their opinions as UW students to conflict with their impartiality as representatives of ASM.
Neibart added although she fully supports the event as a student, she doesn’t feel it is the responsibility of ASM to endorse this and it is not appropriate to endorse academic misconduct.
“It’s the student’s prerogative to skip classes, not ours,” Neibart said.
Student Activity Center Governing Board Chair Katy Ziebell said she wanted to see ASM endorse the event because of the extreme uproar in Wisconsin as result of the state budget bill.
Ziebell said if Walker’s bill passes, she wouldn’t want to come to graduate school at UW if she won’t receive tuition remission, especially when she could go to other schools where she will receive that as well as a stipend.
The council ultimately voted in favor of endorsing the walkout event, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ASM joined the United Council in encouraging students to participate.
The student council also discussed the bylaw amendment to eliminate the two-year term limit for council members in order to encourage longer-lasting involvement for representatives.
University Affairs Chair Carl Fergus said this change would affect nearly half the student council body, namely freshmen and graduate students.
The amendment would make terms served as a freshman representative not count towards the two-year limit, as well as terms served as graduate school, law school or medical school representatives.
“This is a problem that I’ve seen over the past five years on campus,” Fergus said. “In ASM, there are students who get involved early on in their college careers, but lose their upward mobility and then cut their involvement entirely.”
The council will continue discussing the term-limit changes at next week’s meeting.