Starting fall 2018, students living in university housing will be required to deposit at least $1,400 to their Wiscard. The money deposited is to be used exclusively at University Dining facilities, and any funds not used during the school year will be forfeited.
The petition, authored by UW sophomore Rena Newman and UW alumna Brooke Evans, has close to 1,200 signatures as of Monday evening.
“This policy and the actions by University Housing stand in stark conflict with the intention to keep college affordable and may adversely impact rates of enrollment, retention and graduation,” the petition said.
Newman said this policy harms low-income students.
The policy takes money out of the pockets of students who must already budget to spend their money otherwise, the petition said. The petition also mentioned that few low-income students are able to go to the dining halls.
“Students weren’t consulted in matters that impact their cost of a college education,” Evans said in an email to The Badger Herald. “Having drafted questions on the Campus Climate Survey that address student homelessness and food-insecurity, it felt incumbent on me to highlight how the institution continues to harm low-income students.”
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Newman also noted how this policy is unacceptable and negatively impacts individuals who have a dietary restriction for health, cultural or religious reasons.
Dining facilities are daunting to navigate for students who need kosher or halal foods, have diabetes, food allergies, are gluten-free, vegan and more, the petition said.
There are better ways to support students than requiring a minimum expenditure, Evans said.
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Newman stressed the policy doesn’t only impact current and future UW students — it also impacts alumni, parents, administrators and staff.
The petition aims for the policy to be revoked, as well as transparency about the rationale of the measures that were taken, Evans said.
“We seek transparency with shared governance groups about the rationale behind these exclusionary measures,” Evans said. “We seek a thorough discussion with students about the role University Housing and Dining plays in student life, what the mission of the division should be, and how it can best meet that mission for students.”