Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Student regent Tommie Jones

Each week, the Badger Herald editorial board will sit down with an individual who impacts the lives of students. This week, the editorial board spoke with student Regent Tommie Jones. Jones is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and has been regent since the summer of 2001. Here are excerpts from that conversation.

BH: What are the regents’ priorities and what are your personal priorities in cutting the budget?

TJ: From a regent perspective, making the cuts would delineate to the president of the system, as she is the CEO of the UW system. She would make it work with the campus chancellors. The chancellors have all looked at this and are making cuts for their individual campuses. So, those cuts that are going to be made to the individual campuses.

I would hope we’re not going to make drastic cuts to student services; [that we’re not having] huge class sizes; moving from the rigor of having a faculty member versus an academic staff member. But we know that we’re going to have to make some reductions and some services are going to have to be a little bit slower. And some services may change and that’s up to the campus and up to the individual to weigh how they want to operate the individual cuts on their campus.

BH: What sort of priority do you put on limiting tuition increases?

TJ: Link[ing] financial aid increases to tuition increases has been a personal priority of mine so that every student can receive access into the UW system, because in my opinion we are the best higher-education system in the nation.


BH: If the bill tying financial aid and tuition does not pass, what is your feeling regarding tuition increases?

TJ: When I joined the Board of Regents and first looked at tuition increases, I looked at quality versus quantity. I want to make sure that when you graduate as a student that your degree still has the same meaning, if not more, so that when you get into the workforce you’re able to know that “I’ve graduated from a UW system school and my degree is going to carry some merit and some weight.” They’re going to know there’s some good faculty and staff here and the resources that you as a student had were comparable if not the best. And so I believe that in some ways that’s going to cost.

I do think we need to be realistic and understand what students are actually paying–actual costs–and try to make sure that we as a Board work with UW system school officers [so we have] realistic increases if there has to be an increase.

BH: Do you think regents should be elected?

TJ: No. Two reasons: The governor is making an appointment of people; he’s asking you to do a job and serve on a voluntary basis. You are appointed and then you are confirmed by the State Senate, and those people are elected.

BH: Why do think four of your colleagues on the Board of Regents have yet to be approved by the Senate?

TJ: I think some partisan politics are being played and it’s ugly and it’s not right. These people dedicate their time [and] their energy to supporting the UW system; they work with students and student groups. I see it happen all the time. They care–students call and they respond back to them. It’s sad [that] partisan politics are being played because someone’s got the hammer and the other one doesn’t. We’ve either got to confirm them or not confirm them and let’s move.

BH: If student regent was an elected position would you be a regent right now?

TJ: Oh yeah, I’d win. I have a proven track record of results I’ve done on my campus. I am a well-known student leader, and I’m not trying to sound cocky but I’ve done a good job on my campus and I would have done what needed to be done in order to win.

BH: What do you think about the bill that would add a non-traditional regent?

TJ: I think it’s good to add another student regent, and if the regent is non-traditional that will give us an opportunity to look at other issues and maybe concerns that we’re not seeing.

BH: Do you think the student voice will be weaker if the two student regents disagree on an issue?

TJ: I think it’s going to be a challenge. Will it be a problem? I don’t know, but it’s something I think the assembly will have to think about, and the governor, ultimately, if he signs it.

BH: Do you see the point in appointing a non-traditional student when the majority of UW-System students are traditional?

TJ: I think having a non-traditional student on the Board of Regents will give some varying opinions we may not have seen. But I think the other challenge, something I’m very concerned with, is if we do have a non-traditional student, will other student [interest groups] ask, should there be a woman student regent, a multicultural student regent? Those questions will then emerge; how will the state legislature deal with that?

BH: What are your goals as a student regent? What do you want to see the Board of Regents accomplish?

TJ: When I got appointed I made three big goals. One is being accessible, approachable, out there and letting students know who I am and that I am going to work hard to be their voice. I think I have done that. Second, I want to really work on academic advising and linking academic advising and career counseling together. I think we’re moving on that and I think the data we’re seeing show we can do that.

Now we’ve just got to get the state to believe and put some money in our budget and make sure we can do that. My last [goal] was one of my predecessor’s goals that I sort of took up–working with the Arts Board to [use] a percent of the arts fund [for new buildings] and look at ways we can maximize what we have in order to make faculty, staff and student scholarships. We’ve got to look at some more collaborative ways to make sure opportunities can arise for faculty, staff and students.

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