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ASM Chair Allie Gardner reads aloud a letter from SSFC Chair Sarah Neibart expressing her committee’s intent to file a lawsuit against the Board of Regents.[/media-credit]

University of Wisconsin student government leaders voted to support a move by a student fee allocation committee to tap into a United Council of UW Students legal defense fund and hire a lawyer to aid in filing a lawsuit against the Board of Regents. 

Last month, the Student Services Finance Committee appealed to overturn Chancellor David Ward’s decision regarding the budgets of Wisconsin Union and Recreational Sports. The appeal was unsuccessful, as UW System President Kevin Reilly deemed the appeals inappropriate under UW System Financial Policy 50 concerning student final control over the segregated fee allocation process.

SSFC Chair Sarah Neibart characterized F50 as an illegal interpretation of state statute, dividing segregated fees into allocable and non-allocable funds. She said students are granted primary authority over where segregated fees are spent, and F50 violates that right.

“[Reilly] is basically saying he doesn’t have to take our recommendation seriously, because under F50 the student government has no say in non-allocable funds,” Neibart said.

In a letter to United Council reviewed by Associated Students of Madison members last night, Neibart said committee members are appealing to the council because state law deems student government to be part of a state agency and therefore unable to hire an attorney.

Neibart’s letter also claims the Board of Regents has “illegally restricted shared governance rights,” not only at the UW level, but at other colleges across the state. The letter adds that in pursuing action against the Board of Regents, United Council would be defending the rights of students on all UW campuses.

The council also passed a feedback system for administration legislation, which would allow members to evaluate administrators based on their performance in interacting with students and ASM.

“[The feedback system] is about exercising our power as students,” Rep. Olivia Wick-Bander said.

Rep. Maria Giannopoulos was skeptical of the grading system and suggested that giving feedback to administrators who have not cooperated effectively with ASM may discourage any future cooperation.

Originally the document called for representatives to give administrators letter grades, similar to those given to students. Rep. Tia Nowack proposed creating a different evaluation method that would not give a letter grade but would give very specific forms of feedback through a rating scale.

“Seeing a letter grade, [administrators] are going to be like ‘what’s going on?’ It’s better if you give them constructive feedback that’s more representative of how they can move forward in the future,” Neibart said.

Press Office Director Ade Afolayan said a number or grading system would be beneficial from a media standpoint for people to look at quickly, as opposed to a list of comments and criticisms.

“For [administrators] that really do need to work on things, we need to hold them accountable,” ASM Chair Allie Gardner said. “I think it’s about recognition; I think it’s about accountability; I especially think it’s about transparency. Students at-large have a really hard time navigating the system and I think we do need a ranking system to help them.”

Wick-Bander said the system is a necessity to build strength within ASM by giving future students and representatives a history to look back and see what campaigns gained support from administration and which officials cooperate most effectively.

According to Rep. Mudit Kackar, the council’s next step will be to evaluate administrators in upcoming meetings.