As the student government on campus, the Associated Students of Madison aims to represent students’ voice and extends a warm welcome to all incoming students at the University of Wisconsin.
According to the ASM website, the overarching mission of ASM is to provide avenues for students to make their student life on campus better.
Former ASM Vice Chair and current Wisconsin School of Business Representative Yogev Ben-Yitschak further elaborated on the mission and said on top of representing students’ voices and providing ways for students to advocate for changes, ASM is also responsible for the allocation of resources to different organizations on campus.
“We get a portion of the [segregated] fee, not the whole [amount],” Ben-Yitschak said. “And the money goes into student organizations, bus pass, the Union and other [organizations and services].”
According to the ASM website, the branches of ASM include Student Council, Student Services Finance Committee, Student Judiciary and various committees and boards, with each responsible for its respective roles and duties.
Student Council is made up of 33 members and mainly in charge of carrying out the organization’s legislative duties, according to their website. All UW students are eligible to cast votes for Student Council representatives from their respective schools or colleges during the annual election in spring.
With Student Council taking charge of the legislative duties, SSFC is responsible for the financial issues. According to their website, SSFC determines the allocation of funds along with UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank. Student Council also needs to confirm decisions made by SSFC before these decisions are sent for Blank’s approval.
Student Judiciary is composed of seven student justices nominated and approved by the Nominations Board and Student Council respectively. Student Judiciary also supervises ASM elections and handles disputes ASM may have with other parties.
Ben-Yitschak said there are many ways to get involved in ASM, and running for seats at Student Council and SSFC is by no means the only way to do it.
“Most of our students are involved in other ways and don’t even interact with Student Council that much,” Ben-Yitschak said. “For example, we have open committees, like Sustainability, Equity & Inclusion [Committee]. Any student, any age, any group can come if they want to. That’s how most students are involved.”
ASM Press Office Director Matthew Mitnick made a special mention to the intern program within ASM that incoming students could apply for. According to Mitnick, participating in such program prepares students for their future career and helps them practice leadership.
Ben-Yitschak also emphasized that being a freshman should never be a hindrance for students to stay involved in their student government.
“I love when I see freshmen get involved [in ASM] because they are really the future of ASM,” Ben-Yitschak said.
According to the ASM website, the roles of the organization can be categorized as direct action, governance and service. Under direct action, as explained by the ASM website, the organization encourages and engages students to initiate changes for the betterment of their lives through campaigns. Some examples from the past include the creation of 24-hour libraries and study days before major exams.
According to the ASM website, the organization also provides various services to the student body. One such example is the distribution of free bus passes. Part of students’ segregated fees are allocated to fund this program, and all enrolled freshmen are eligible to pick up the pass. With such pass, students can ride on Madison Metro Transit without any cost, within the validity of the pass. Routes 80, 81, 82 and 84 are free for all students and campus visitors at any time, thus students can board these buses without the pass. Time and locations for bus pass pick-up will be available on ASM website at a later date.
According to the ASM website, part of its funding also goes for services outside of ASM, such as the operations of the Wisconsin Union and recreational sports facilities.
Looking into the future, Mitnick reiterated the importance of maintaining the diversity of ASM.
“I would like to see more students getting involved, making sure ASM stays as diverse as it is, continuing to become more diverse, so that all students are represented by the decisions we make,” Mitnick said.