The University of Wisconsin student government, in cooperation with a System group, reviewed a biennial budget campaign to lobby for tuition protection to be included the state’s new funding cycle.
The Associated Students of Madison Legislative Affairs Committee released a letter on the biennial budget, advocating for a tuition cap for Wisconsin residents and an increase in need-based financial aid and funding for the UW System.
Chair Dan Statter said members of the committee will put together budget packets at their next meeting, including letters to state legislators, as an effort to communicate student priorities throughout the release of the state biennial budget.
Statter also urged members to tell their personal stories in letters to state legislators.
“We think that often times legislators receive lots of numbers, see a lot of legislative research packages and lots of lobbyists, what they may not get is the real personal stories,” Statter said. “We want to make an impact on students’ personal life … to not tell the stories is doing a disservice.”
As part of the biennial budget campaign, the United Council for UW Students organized a lobby convention to take place the weekend of Feb. 23, an ASM statement said.
According to United Council Vice President Beth Huang, the free convention will allow students from across the state to learn about the impacts of the biennial budget and attend lobby workshops, followed by over 40 meetings in the Capitol Feb. 25.
“Our main goal of the February lobby convention is to have as many students feeling empowered to tell their stories and to tell their stories to their legislators,” Huang said. “We want to communicate to the state legislature that this continuous increase in tuition is really having negative impacts on students.”
Huang cited not buying textbooks and dropping out all together as examples of some possible negative impacts.
In addition, Huang said the statewide call-in day, another major event and opportunity for students to communicate their priorities regarding the state budget to their legislators, will take place Feb. 14.
The biennial budget campaign is one of the major priorities of United Council this semester, Huang said. The main goal is to achieve tuition protection for UW System students across the state, she added.
Statter and Huang were in agreement United Council and ASM should continue to lobby on behalf of UW students to try to stop the trend of a 5.5 percent increase in tuition for the past six years and create a tuition cap to ensure the financial feasibility of UW System schools for Wisconsin residents.
“They won’t stop that trend unless [students] are talking about it,” Huang said.
In addition to the state budget campaign, members of the committee discussed progress on other lobby projects this semester, including the Responsible Action Bill, the student regent campaign and a new project to install live bus arrival screens in campus buildings.
The committee members will meet with state legislators this week to look for support on these projects.