A meeting intended for semester reflection quickly transformed into a conversation on internal communication, as a University of Wisconsin’s student government board convened Tuesday evening.
Members of Coordinating Council expressed concern and frustration with Monday’s press release of the May 4 Music Festival Proposal, a plan hoping to provide a structured alternative to the Mifflin Street Block Party.
According to Dan Statter, Legislative Affair’s Chair, the proposal, which holds the Associated Student’s of Madison stamp and sponsorship, came as a surprise to all on the board, except for Student Council Chair Andrew Bulovsky and Vice Chair Maria Giannopoulos, who were both involved on the plan’s construction.
Statter, who said he felt “blindsided” by the proposal, voiced concern about ASM’s involvement with the Mifflin Street Block Party.
Although Statter ensured there was no “personal animosity” in his frustration, he emphasized the importance of discussion and conversation on the proposal.
“It very well could have been an oversight, but given the scope of the proposal, this wasn’t something that happened overnight, and it is concerning that not one student leader, other than two individuals, were aware,” Statter said.
Giannopoulos, who was involved in these “direct talks on Mifflin,” according to ASM Rep. David Gardner, apologized for the communication error, adding that there is merit in ASM’s sponsorship of the proposal.
The proposal has also received the support of the university according to a statement from UW Chancellor David Ward, who commended ASM’s involvement with the initiative and “affirmed the university’s enthusiastic support of the creation of alternative programming.”
According to Giannopoulos, the proposal, which is hoping to bring a big name musician in order to attract people who would have otherwise gone to Mifflin, will help build student leaders through event planning and ensure a safer environment than Mifflin.
Giannopoulos added that despite ASM’s sponsorship of such a proposal, ASM does not hold a “formal stance” on Mifflin.
Although understanding the May 4 proposal provides an opportunity for student involvement, according to Gardner, it is not in the role of ASM to be involved in the planning.
“In student leadership development, that is a point that I agree with,” Gardner said. “I think the place for that is the Wisconsin Union. Here, we teach to lobby and advocate for students and communicate with students.”
In reference to safety, Gardner also questioned ASM’s role in the event planning, asking when ASM “became the Madison Police Department and not a lobby to the MPD.”
According to Giannopoulos, however, the Wisconsin Union does not have the same campus and city network as ASM to plan this event as effectively.
Although, some, like Nominations Board Chair Sean McNally, agreed with the contents of the proposal, the majority of the chairs expressed concern with the lack of communication between the chair, vice chair and the rest of the ASM body.
McNally, who agreed that the proposal was a “great opportunity” for students “ostracized” by the change in values of the Mifflin Street Block party, rejected the notion that such a proposal and ASM’s involvement in such a discussion was mentioned previously.
The discussion will be further addressed in Student Council on Wednesday, with continued conversation and input from the body from this point forward, Giannopoulos said.
According to Gardner, the proposal is still in its early stages.