Four University of Wisconsin student government members were arrested after attending a legislative conference in Washington, D.C., in which the conference was paid for with more than $3,000 in mandatory student fees.
Student Services Finance Committee Rep. Tia Nowack, one of the UW students arrested at the United States Student Association legislative conference, said the travel costs for her and three fellow students was just above $3,000, and was funded through a line-item in the Associated Students of Madison internal budget, which consists of students’ segregated fees.
“The money came through a budget alteration in the ASM internal budget from line items that we couldn’t use for legal reasons,” Nowack said in an email to The Badger Herald.
She said the budget alteration was voted on in Coordinating Council and Student Council in an “uncontentious” vote.
SSFC Chair Sarah Neibart said travels to conferences like this one, which was focused on lobbying against the increase in student loan debt, are routinely paid for by the ASM internal budget.
Funds from the internal budget covered some of the costs for conference registration, flights and hotel stays, Neibart said. She added the registration fee included all-day workshops and meals as well.
ASM Chair Allie Gardner, whose trip costs were paid for by the United Council for UW Students and was also arrested in D.C., said she was unsure of the specific cost for her trip to Washington.
Nowack, who was also taken into custody, said the three UW students were bailed out with money coming from an outside source, with no student money involved. She added it was a worthwhile experience because conferences like these help foster student power.
“I learned so much that I can bring back to campus and I think an important conversation surrounding student loan debt was spurred,” she said.
-Jackie Allen contributed to this report.