As University of Wisconsin’s student government begins the semester with a full agenda, the body expects a focus on lobbying student issues at the university, city and state levels.
According to Associated Students of Madison spokesperson David Gardner, education affordability continues to be a major focus for the body.
“We lobby for issues that students are struggling with, so, for example, tuition is always on the forefront of the ASM agenda,” Gardner said. “We will always have campaigns to look at how affordable our university is, and tuition is really the biggest portion of that.”
Gardner also noted the importance of the state’s annual budget, adding the state will be looking at the UW System’s budget to determine how much funding the school will receive.
The state’s funding not only impacts the affordability of UW’s education, but also influences the quality of instruction, Gardner said.
“One of our really huge goals this spring is to make sure we’re lobbying the state and the Legislature on UW being funded at a level that provides a quality education, and also education that is affordable for students,” Gardner said.
In addition to looking at the state’s annual budget, according to Gardner, many of the issues that will be addressed by ASM this semester will also be angled on diversity. Such topics include a new preferred name policy, he said.
There will also be a new committee working on the issue of how environmentally friendly UW is.
“We have a new ASM Sustainability Committee that will be starting this semester,” ASM Chair Andrew Bulovsky said. “The Sustainability Committee will provide another element for students to talk about climate issues here on campus, and we believe we’ll be able to make Madison more environmentally friendly and encourage more recycling.”
Gardner said the Sustainability Committee will be an asset on campus, as it will reach out to similar sustainability student organizations and encourage them to collaborate and participate with ASM’s committee.
Bulovsky also said ASM will maintain strong involvement with student mental health, noting the success of the ASM-sponsored Stress Reduction Fair last semester.
Through lobbying such issues as mental health, sustainability, diversity and affordability, Bulovsky said he hopes ASM will be able to increase outreach and the visibility of opportunities on campus throughout the upcoming semester.
“We want to focus on outreach, emphasizing on areas of student life like student health,” Bulovsky said. “We just want to really focus on letting students know what opportunities are available to them. ASM is there to help provide them and help students know where they are and how they can actually utilize the services that they have for them on campus.”