The University of Wisconsin College Republicans accused the UW student government Wednesday of expressing partisan views in a proposed resolution against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget.
The Associated Students of Madison then amended its resolution to remove the political language while still expressing its opposition to the cuts Walker proposed for the UW System.
ASM passed that amended resolution on a 15-3-1 vote after a heated debate at its Wednesday meeting. The change removed Walker’s name from the resolution, a word choice that many argued sent an unnecessarily political message.
ASM also debated whether to include support of an undergraduate tuition freeze and a public authority model for the UW System.
More than a dozen members of the College Republicans were present for the debate, including Walker’s son, Alex, who appeared visibly upset.
Jake Lubenow, a spokesperson for the College Republicans, expressed at the beginning of the meeting what he saw as ASM taking a political stance unrepresentative of the entire student body.
“We can see that your proposal [has] a base for what it believes in, [but] the College Republicans and conservatives on campus have a basis for what they believe in, as well,” Lubenow said.
In protesting ASM’s proposed resolution, which opposed Walker’s suggested public authority model for the university, Lubenow remarked his dismay at their stance given the UW System Board of Regents’ support of the model. He also questioned ASM’s allegiance with UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank, remarking that she vowed to raise tuition while the governor froze it.
Some representatives, such as ASM secretary Alex Schultz, argued against striking the governor’s name out of the resolution, maintaining it was his proposal.
“I disagree with this amendment,” Schultz said. “It was Scott Walker’s decision, and it’s his budget. It’s not partisan to say that it was his idea. We have to hold this man accountable for the actions he’s taking against this university and the [UW System] as a whole.”
Others insisted on less pointed language, including ASM Vice Chair Derek Field and Rep. Ariela Rivkin who argued that the ASM resolution should represent the student body as a whole and avoid using partisan language.
ASM approved an amendment on a 13-6 vote that supported an undergraduate in-state tuition freeze for students when coupled with a cap on tuition increases.
Rep. John Paetsch fully supported the amendment’s adoption, stressing the importance of ASM siding with affordability for students, but Rep. Steven Hughes disagreed, arguing it is not realistic to implement a tuition freeze when the state won’t increase funding to the university.
“We lose credibility if we’re asking for, at the same time, a tuition freeze and no budget cuts,” Hughes said. “It fiscally can’t work, and makes us look lazy.”
Members upheld a clause opposing proposed public authority status of the UW System because protection for shared governance and faculty tenure is not guaranteed, according to the finalized budget resolution.
“What’s frightening to me is under the public authority model, the person who is setting my tuition rate is someone I have no accountability over,” Paetsch said.