In regard to the recent editorial on Wisconsin Public Interest
Research Group, The Badger Herald Editorial Board is completely missing the
When Chancellor David Ward refuses to honor Associated Students of Madison’s
decision to fund WISPIRG – or any service or organization for that matter – he
is attempting to take power from students.
And when the Herald Editorial Board – which calls itself the voice of the
University of Wisconsin’s “premier student newspaper” – refuses to call this
an issue of student power or shared governance, it is letting him take that
power away from the very students it claims to represent.
When I was chair of ASM, I saw time and again the decisions of students treated
as recommendations rather than an exercise of decision-making power or shared
governance. Whether these decisions are related to WISPIRG or the budgets of
other campus entities such as Recreational Sports or the Wisconsin Union, the
bottom line is state statute grants students the responsibility and right
to allocate a portion of their segregated fees. But the university continues to
ignore the wishes of students.
As students we retain primary control over just 7 percent of segregated fees that are
paid by students to fund campus activities for student groups, and we can’t let
that power go.
If students want to fund staff to advocate on behalf of students and help run
effective campaigns on issues like fighting global warming, increasing youth
voter turnout and engagement and protecting Wisconsin’s [word missing??], then we should be able
to fund them.
The Editorial Board’s claim that paying professional staff is bending the rules
of F50 is patently false. F50 specifically states students may fund
non-university professional services if the service being provided meets a set
of criteria, and ASM has looked at the criteria and decided WISPIRG is
eligible. The Herald and UW should applaud
students’ decision to carry out the Wisconsin Idea in this way.
The chancellor’s refusal to honor the decision of Student Service Finance Committee
despite multiple requests doesn’t just hurt groups like WISPIRG, but shows a
lack of respect for the right of students to make decisions about the allocation
of our segregated fees. In this instance the chancellor, with little
consultation to SSFC or ASM, refused to grant the contract and thus provide the
approved funding to WISPIRG despite numerous requests from ASM. This is not the
first time ASM has recommended a contract for WISPIRG; in fact, many past
sessions of ASM have done so, and until this year the chancellor has approved the
contract every time.
I hope the chancellor respects our decision and honors the students’
rights to determine how we spend our money. It is our role as students to make
these decisions, and for the sake of students on this campus we need to
continue to advocate for that right.