Title IX Investigations
The U.S. Department of Education put University of Wisconsin under investigation in March for the way it handled sexual assault cases.
UW is under investigation for potential Title IX violations, which is a federal policy that prohibits sex-based discrimination in education. The Department of Education list only states the school is under investigation, not that they’ve been found in violation of Title IX.
The Dean of Students Office and Office for Equity and Diversity handled the Title IX complaints.
The Department of Education’s list of schools under investigation has increased from 55 to 101 since the original list last May. In 2014, 164 assaults were reported at UW and 21 reports led to the investigation.
For 11 of those sexual assault reports, UW did not find substantial evidence to hold the suspected student responsible. Of the 10 sanctions issued, five received university probation, three were suspended and one was expelled. One case remained in progress.
“We strive to respond promptly and appropriately to all reports of sexual assault and provide resources and support,” John Lucas, UW spokesperson, said in a statement. “This is an important issue and the university has worked diligently to ensure its policies comply with federal law and regulations.”
UW was one of 28 schools involved in the Association of American Universities campus sexual assault survey, which students could participate in between April 13 and May 2. Data will be compiled from more than 800,000 students.
Department of Education puts UW under investigation for handling of sexual assault complaintsThe University of Wisconsin-Madison is under federal investigation for how it handles sexual assault cases, the university said Wednesday. According Read…
Walker’s White House
As 2016 approaches, Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential ambitions become clearer each day.
An organization in support of Walker, Our American Revival, has an office in Iowa and the state’s conservatives applauded his ideas during January’s Iowa Freedom Summit.
Walker’s approval ratings might soar in Iowa, which has one of the first presidential caucuses, but a recent Marquette poll showed support back home in Wisconsin is not as strong. A recent Marquette University Law School Poll found 56 percent of registered voters in Wisconsin disapprove of how Walker is handling his job as governor.
His support has dropped from 50 percent to 36 percent in Wisconsin over three years, and UW political science professor Michael Wagner said the stunted ratings were at least in part a result of dramatic budget proposals, like modifying the Department of Natural Resources and cutting the University of Wisconsin System budget.
But Wagner said Walker’s declining approval ratings likely would not directly affect his chances at winning the Republican nomination.
“A declining approval rating in Wisconsin is certainly not a death sentence, and being a popular governor doesn’t mean you’re more likely to win,” Wagner said. “Sarah Palin was the most popular governor in the country when she was vice presidential nominee in 2008, and that did not put her and John McCain in the White House.”
Two former Walker aides formed a super PAC in mid April. Super PACs have the ability to raise unlimited amounts of money, but are not allowed to have any cooperation with the actual candidate.
Although there are currently two different marijuana bills in the Wisconsin state Legislature, legally smoking a joint on State Street might not be in the immediate future for Madison’s more ganja-oriented residents.
Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, introduced a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults in Wisconsin. But she said she expects to face partisan roadblocks as the bill makes its way through the Legislature.
“We have additional challenges in Wisconsin because there is such a partisan divide in the Capitol building,” Sargent said.
In 23 states and the District of Columbia, medical marijuana is legal in some form, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and recreational marijuana is only legal in a handful of states.
But neither medical nor recreational marijuana are legal in Wisconsin.
Rep. Mandela Barnes, D-Milwaukee, authored a bill that would decriminalize marijuana.
Under the proposed bill, if a person is caught with up to 25 grams of marijuana, they would receive a fine, but no jail time. Municipalities determine these fines. Under current law, marijuana possession is a felony after the second offense.
“Having that felony on your background check, it limits people’s ability to find jobs, stifles their ability to pay for education in some cases and also restricts them from voting for a certain amount of time,” Barnes said.
Take a hit of this: marijuana legalization bill introducedWith past legislation and attempts to legalize marijuana having faded, a new bill introduced Monday would legalize weed in Wisconsin. Rep. Melissa Sargent, Read…
Puff, puff: Weed legalization bill in Wisconsin likely won’t pass soonThe state Legislature will consider a bill this session proposing legalization of marijuana for recreational use, but even those closest to Read…
Unions fight Right-to-work
After hours of debate and people protesting in the Capitol, Gov. Scott Walker signed a law in March which made Wisconsin a right-to-work state.
Right-to-work allows unionized workers to opt out of paying union dues. Opponents of the law say right-to-work dismantles private-sector unions, while supporters say it brings workplace freedom.
Wisconsin AFL-CIO held a number of rallies at the Capitol against right-to-work, with thousands of people protesting. Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, said right-to-work laws were the wrong step for Wisconsin.
“Right-to-work laws affect the general public because more downward pressure is put on wages and benefits as a result, and then everybody’s wages and benefits go in the wrong direction, making it a general economic issue,” Neuenfeldt said.
The bill was fast-tracked through the Legislature in less than two weeks as an extraordinary session. These sessions are generally used to expedite bills.
During a Senate Committee hearing, Scott Manley, the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce vice president of government relations, said Wisconsin’s private sector workers did not have a choice on whether or not to pay dues to a union. He said this could lead them to be fired if they chose not to pay.
“If you don’t support right-to-work, you stand for the proposition that workers should be fired for not wanting to pay dues to the union,” Manley said.
The Assembly held an overnight session that lasted 24 hours to debate right-to-work, before voting to pass the bill to Walker’s desk. With Walker’s signature, Wisconsin became the 25th right-to-work state.
‘What’s his name? Tony Robinson’
On March 6, 19-year-old Tony Robinson was fatally shot by Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny and throughout the following weeks, Madison erupted in protests and demonstrations.
At a press conference following Robinson’s death, Police Chief Mike Koval emphasized his hopes for across-the-board compliance by offering his own condolences and department transparency.
“I want to be transparent about this,” Koval said. “[Robinson] was unarmed.”
Since then, hundreds of Madisonians have gathered in peaceful protests primarily led by the Young Gifted and Black Coalition, who have continued to be outspoken advocates for ending racial disparities in Madison.
YGB continued to hold community meetings and outreach events following Robinson’s death. Though their events have been peaceful, in their most recent demonstration, several protesters were arrested and cited on various accounts.
Mayor Paul Soglin continuously spoke about the incidents surrounding Robinson’s death. His tone changed at a news conference following the arrest, focusing on the protests.
“Protesters were given numerous warnings to clear the street before being cited,” Soglin said.
It has yet to be determined whether or not District Attorney Ismael Ozanne will indict Kenny on charges related to Robinson’s death.
However, as time has passed, the community has began its long healing processes, and protest organizers and Robinson’s family members continue to advocate for peaceful action no matter what the indictment outcome is.
Tony Robinson’s death: a portrait of a life ended, a life halted, a community unitedSaturday morning, a team of three Madison police officers stood outside the house at 1125 Williamson Street on the Near Read…
Soglin takes it all
This year’s mayoral election was fueled by debates, protests and controversy.
Five candidates, including current Mayor Paul Soglin, former Alders Scott Resnick and Bridget Maniaci, 25-year-old activist Christopher Daly and former Dane County Supervisor Richard Brown entered the race in hopes of becoming Madison’s next leader. But it was Soglin and Resnick who emerged victorious from February’s primary election.
The primary and election turnouts were historically low, yielding only a 29.7 percent turnout in the election and even less than that in the primary.
Though the Mayoral election itself ended in a landslide victory for now eight-term candidate Soglin, challenger Resnick still managed to get more than 25 percent of the votes as a first time candidate.
Both candidates picked up multiple endorsements from Madison officials. Among Resnick’s endorsers include University of Wisconsin’s College Democrats and various city alders. Some of Soglin’s endorsers included Madison Teachers, Inc. and various school board members.
Soglin focused his campaign on the four major issues of creating family supporting jobs, creating equal and just communities, spurring neighborhood and economic development and solving the issues of housing and homelessness.
Soglin and Resnick faced each other in several debates and clashed over various issues facing the Madison community, ranging from the digital divide, homelessness and the regulation of rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft. But after the March 6 officer-involved shooting of Tony Robinson, the focus of these debates shifted to police practices and community safety.
At his election party last month, Soglin said this was one of the longest campaigns he has faced, but said he has high hopes for Madison’s future.
“I really believe in Madison and that we can be the best city in the world, that we can be the place to solve all of these challenges and earn that number one ranking in every single category for every single record,” Soglin said.
Soglin, Resnick look toward April after underwhelming primary turnoutMayor Paul Soglin and his challenger Scott Resnick face six weeks of campaigning for the April mayoral elections, although many Read…
As the Hub at Madison nears its final stages of construction, the developer has a plan in the works for a second Hub: Hub Squared.
The Hub at Madison is designed to be a luxury apartment building, and offers amenities such as a rooftop pool, an in-house spa and an indoor golf-simulator. A studio apartment comes in at just over $1,000 per month, according to the Hub website.
The marketing process experienced by the Hub developers likely revealed a need for a broader range of student living, Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said. Core Campus plans to have Hub Squared focused on offering a wider range of options for students concerned with affordability, Ben Modleski, COO of Core Campus, said in an email. The planned location for Hub Squared would be 510 University Avenue, according to the Core Campus press release.
Hub Squared will be aimed at students and young professionals in downtown Madison, and will feature many of the same amenities offered at Hub Madison at a lower cost, Modleski said. The project opening will be sometime in 2017, he said.
In addition to reduced rates, Core Campus is also planning on offering scholarship packages distributed based off of an essay contest to help students pay rent, Modleski said.
“The news that Hub Squared is striving to have more affordable rents is extremely welcome,” Verveer said.
Uber vs. City
After ongoing tension with Uber, the City of Madison filed a legal suit against the company in February, looking to gain $42,000 in fines.
The city claimed that Uber had provided illegal paid rides to customers. The fines are attributed to 42 ordinance violations allegedly committed by Uber.
Uber moved the case from the Madison Municipal court to federal court, claiming that federal court would produce a more just outcome. The city responded that the state did not qualify to move to federal court, but the final decision will be the court’s.
A city ordinance governing rideshare passed in late March, which put more strict regulations on the operation of rideshare companies in Madison, Ald. Chris Schmidt, District 11, said. The ordinance treated rideshare companies the same as taxis, he said.
A state-wide bill currently awaiting Walker’s signature would preempt the local ordinance and move rideshare regulation to the state level. The state legislation does not provide the same restrictiveness that the local ordinance put in place.
Chi Phi terminated
In the midst of fraternity scandals nationwide, University of Wisconsin’s Chi Phi chapter was terminated after a hazing incident gone wrong that launched an investigation into the fraternity’s initiation process.
A pledge was forced to lie in a casket while a member of the frat “curb stomped” the top of the casket, leaving the person inside with head injuries.
Documents from the investigation revealed pledges were forced to eat unpalatable food, confined to an attic to sleep, hooded for up to eight hours straight and forced to believe they had carried out a sexual act.
The university deemed the fraternity’s actions “egregious in nature.” Some were even described as causing “severe physical, psychological and emotional injuries” to those involved.
The national organization suspended the chapter’s charter, and will make a final ruling on June 19.
UW budget cuts
Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed biennial budget included a $300 million budget cut to the UW System, along with a shift to a public authority model that was supposed to help the system make up the cuts.
But the public authority model, which would have given the UW System more flexibility, appears to be dead this session, with the co-chairs of the state’s budget committee saying the proposal needs more studying.
The public authority model would have given the UW System more flexibility than other state agencies, helping it save money on things like construction projects and procurement.
Students and faculty across the UW System had raised concerns that there wasn’t enough study of the public authority model, as well as language that would’ve stripped shared governance protections from state law.
Lawmakers from both parties had said they wanted to bring down the proposed $300 million in cuts, but the state’s May revenue projections made that unlikely.
Walker’s proposal includes an extension of the tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates until 2017.
But to make up for the cuts, the UW System Board of Regents approved an increase in tuition for nonresidents and some graduate students at several UW campuses, including UW-Madison.
The state Legislature is expected to finalize the budget and send it to Walker’s desk this summer.
What Walker’s UW budget cuts and increased autonomy means for students and facultyGov. Scott Walker suggested Wednesday that the University of Wisconsin System could ask its professors to teach one more class Read…