Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


ASM hasn’t earned the attention it seeks

Last week, I described to the Associated Students of Madison’s Nominations Board a concrete strategy for addressing issues on this campus. This was a job interview for a Student of Color Liaison position. I was not hired, even though I told them I would pass up the $8-an-hour salary and work for free.

I told the board I want several students to be hired as telephone interviewers. I want brief questionnaires administered to randomly dialed students in order to assess their attitudes and experiences. The establishment of a Student Opinion Research Center on campus would provide students with valuable research experience, as well as reliable data describing the attitudes of the entire student body.

It confounds me that such an institution was not already in place at UW-Madison before student government and allocated segregated fees were introduced.

It boggles me that such a straightforward approach to sampling the students forced to finance extracurricular political organizations has not already been established. It is irresponsible for the administration to accept as representative of tuition-paying individuals the self-selected 11 percent of students who actually vote in ASM elections. With randomly administered interviews, we could eliminate the ASM middleman.

So why is there no SORC at UW-Madison?

I believe neither the administration nor student government wants the attitudes of the general student population revealed and made public.

I am confident the results of surveys designed to assess student attitudes would reveal the real roots of the “apathy” so often derided on this campus. I am confident the amount of student interest in the services funded by allocated segregated fees would embarrass those who lobby for them.

Proponents of taxing students without their input cite apathy and indolence as the only forces keeping students from attending ASM meetings and other superfluous activities.

ASM and its affiliates face such widespread apathy because they have not earned attention.

The bus pass is ASM’s only contribution to this campus that relates remotely to education. Even the diffusion of this cost across all students ought not to be immune from criticism. Why not let those who ride the bus pay for it?

Allocated segregated fees are not like taxes that support infrastructure and police departments. I will never have an emergency in which I need the services of the Multicultural Student Coalition. (If you suspect you will, you may subscribe while I weather alone the tempests of homogeneity, culture shock and historical vacuum. Perhaps you will have the last laugh.)

What right do activists with hours of leisure time to spend at invented jobs have to demand cash from me? The Diversity Education Specialists or Student Judiciary may call themselves whatever they please. I can call myself the “Champion of Charity” or “Madison’s Most Potent Bachelor.” Does this make it so?

Rather than substantiate their titles or describe exactly what “networking” and “advocating” accomplishes, funded groups insist that they have an “impact” that this campus dearly needs to have “felt.” ASM claims my life would be bland and unfulfilling without it and the student organizations it funds. Should this assertion be true, I only ask that I be shown and not told. I want to suffer from my lack of ASM and then come crawling back. ASM does not offer us such an opportunity.

Goals set by ASM and expensive strategies for approaching them are often contradictory and unaccountable. Discontinuation of mandatory fee payment by the uninterested student does not mean student organizations must disband. Many groups operate on a tiny budget or none at all. Should they want more money, they are forced to solicit their own members or convince outsiders that they deserve contributions. How else should it be?

What if the things I like doing in my spare time do not involve nine other people or a budget? What am I paying for? Should I need to find nine friends to apply for a studying club in order to reclaim our $110 each and go home to take notes? We might say it finances the light under which we read.

I encourage people to form clubs and coordinate activities using available university facilities. I study hard and pursue interests that are either free or not part of the allocated segregated-fee budget. Understanding our peers does not cost money or depend on organization. Leave the lesson plan to your professors.

Get to know what people think and why, not that this is predicted by how they look. To this end, Chancellor John Wiley’s compulsion to “get the numbers” bears little fruit.

The tiny majority of individuals who do indulge in the student government lifestyle should foot their own bill. If there is so much confidence and interest in the student government, they should mint their own currency.

But I could be wrong. The majority of students could be very favorable to ASM’s expanding budget because they care about what it does. I only ask that this be assessed reliably, not through biased self-selection.

Mark Silverman ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in psychology.

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