While Student Council members voted to remain neutral on the proposal for public authority status for the University of Wisconsin, they adopted an “emergency” system to appoint a student representative in the event the new model is voted into state law.
In the last meeting before the summer session, the Associated Students of Madison approved a process to appoint the interim student representative to the Board of Trustees if the separation of the Madison campus from the UW System is approved by the state Legislature during the summer months.
ASM Chair Allie Gardner said while the original legislation included allowances for at-large student positions to help with the selection, a two-week delay in passing the measure caused concern among council representatives that there was not sufficient time to conduct a search and search for these individuals.
The legislation was amended to allow the Student Services Finance Committee chair, the chair of the Shared Governance Committee and members of the Nominations Board to select a student to serve on the university’s new governing body during the interim period, she said.
She added the arrangement would be a one-time application and interview process for interested students in the event the university becomes a public authority. The council would look to revisit the original legislation to establish a more permanent process in the future, she said.
“We wanted to make absolutely sure to have student representation on the board right away and didn’t want the process to inhibit that,” Gardner said. “Once we all have a better idea of where this is going, we will discuss how we see the process going.”
Representative Tom Templeton added applications for the seat would be opened to all undergraduate, graduate and special students at UW.
Council members also voted to adopt a neutral stance on the New Badger Partnership, only weeks after the outgoing 17th session voted to support the plan with certain specified caveats.
Gardner said while some representatives had originally aimed to rescind this earlier resolution, such a legislative action is not possible and the group instead voted to “revisit” the previous session’s position.
According to the legislation approved by a vote of 12-7-2, the new session disagrees with the process by which the 17th session passed the resolution and the body will remain neutral until “sufficient dialogue with [the] student body has been accomplished.”
Templeton said student outreach and engagement tend to be common difficulties encountered during previous sessions of ASM on a variety of issues, including the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates.
He cited New Badger Partnership information sessions, hosted during the last session of Student Council, as an example of initiatives that were advertised to the student body but poorly attended.
“It’s a rough thing. There are always struggles with trying to appropriately survey the student body on an issue,” Templeton said. “We’re trying to look at new ways of outreach.”
He suggested one idea to better gauge student opinion and knowledge of the proposal is for representatives to more actively engage with their constituents and reflect those opinions on ASM.
Gardner said the council’s neutral stance is most reflective of current student opinion, saying that differing data contributes to uncertainty about what public authority status would actually look like for Madison.
After a drawn out appointments process, Templeton said the body also approved the appointment of Kara Coates as Finance Committee chair.