The Badger Herald Editorial Board aims to be a voice of the student community, weighing in on issues of importance to students regarding campus, local and state affairs.
As we approach the end of another semester, the Board has chosen to recognize six significant moments. Here are the semester’s most award-worthy occurrences.
The JaMarcus Russell Award for Drafting Errors: Gov. Scott Walker
Tuesday, Feb. 3, Walker released his budget proposal for the University of Wisconsin System, which included a tuition freeze extension, $300 million in budget cuts over two years and a typo. Or rather, as Walker put it over tweet, “a drafting error,” which drastically changed the Wisconsin Idea — the UW System’s century-old guiding mission.
Walker’s “accidental” amendment debuted an abridged version of the Wisconsin Idea. It redacted holistic sentiments such as “improving the human condition” and the “search for truth.” The statement was reconstructed to read; “The mission of the system is to develop human resources to meet state workforce needs.”
The revisions were more tailored for a technical college than a top-ranked research institution. UW affordably provides a liberal arts education in a research-heavy environment. That takes money and resources, but Walker doesn’t seem to get that. Ironically, this error — of judgment — has rendered the governor seemingly uneducated on the topic of public higher education as a whole.
His proposed cuts, according to UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s speech in front of the UW System Board of Regents, would leave the university with a $91 million hole in funding.
A probable presidential candidate, the governor understands how to push forward a conservative agenda and diminish the state’s responsibility to public education. Changing the UW System’s mission was his way of testing the waters to see how far he could go.
Former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell was a drafting error; Walker’s amendment butchering the Wisconsin Idea was a calculated political play.
The Nail in the Coffin Award: UW’s Chapter of Chi Phi
We all know that fraternities haze their members, but every so often a truly fucked up hazing ritual comes to light. This semester the spotlight was on UW’s chapter of Chi Phi, which was terminated in March for several disturbing rituals that violated student conduct policies.
The UW administration learned of hazing practices including food deprivation, forced alcohol consumption, cramming pledges into an attic and hooded isolation.
One ritual, called the “Eye of Chi Phi,” involved convincing pledges to stick their finger in a member’s anus while blindfolded. While jars of Nutella were substituted for anuses, pledges were led to believe they were carrying through with the sexual act.
Another ceremony involved putting pledges inside of coffins, which led to an incident where a drunk fraternity member stomped on a coffin and sent the student inside it to the hospital with a concussion.
We’re excited to extend The Nail in the Coffin Award to UW’s chapter of Chi Phi for sealing its organization’s fate on campus in the most WTF way. Nice job, guys.
The Right-to-Whaaat? Award: Wisconsin Republicans
Right-to-work legislation was not exactly a surprise. Given Gov. Scott Walker’s history with unions, it was only a matter of time before he moved to further weaken labor’s power.
What did come as a surprise, however, was how quiet the whole ordeal was. Compared to the protests against Act 10, this was an extremely subdued affair.
This is due in part to protest fatigue — after throwing all their resources against Act 10, and then against Walker during his recall elections, the weight of inevitability may have been too much for labor organizers.
But more importantly, a perfect storm of events took place to distract people from right-to-work legislation. Much of the UW community was already focused on the proposed higher education budget cuts. Soon after the bill’s passage, the shooting of Tony Robinson mobilized Madison. Essentially, there was no shortage of things to protest this spring, and right-to-work got pushed to the bottom of the list.
All of this, combined with the bill’s ludicrously quick trip through the Legislature, allowed right-to-work to pass with shockingly little fanfare. We wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of students hadn’t even heard of it before it passed.
For adding Wisconsin to the country’s growing list of right-to-work states without sparking massive protests, we give state Republicans the “Right-to-Whaaat?” award.
The Sesquipedalian Award: Nigel Hayes
No one could ask for a better basketball team than this year’s Badgers. More family than team, their run to win a Big 10 title, and later to the national championship game, united first the Grateful Red and later the nation.
While these National Championship efforts fell short, the national media still recognized the incredible feat the Badgers had accomplished. Posts such as “23 Reasons The Wisconsin Badgers Still Won The NCAA Tournament” stormed newsfeeds, highlighting just how beloved this team is.
And while all players are deserving of recognition, one player stands out among the rest. As an irreplaceable part of that team, Nigel Hayes epitomizes the team’s spirit that enamoured fans across the nation.
Hayes made headlines during the tournament for his press conferences, which he started with multitudinous big words to make the stenographer’s life interesting. What’s more, Hayes’ mic caught him asseverating about how “beautiful” the stenographer was.
For being the most likeable member of the most likeable team, we give Nigel Hayes the Sesquipedalian Award.
The Get Off my Bench Award: Mayor Paul Soglin
For years Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has skirted the city’s homelessness issues. He continues to take little-to-no responsibility for the persistent lack of a day shelter — pinning almost sole blame on Dane County. When he does take action, more often than not his policies seem to be efforts to hide the homeless from the public, rather than efforts to offer actual aid.
In 2013, Soglin moved to prohibit the homeless from being in the City County Building. He also wanted to hire a private security guard for the entrance of the building. These measures were met with backlash from the homeless and advocates, as well as Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
This year was an election year — the perfect time to get real about helping the homeless. Thus, Soglin proposed a plan to build permanent housing to help people get off the streets. While his proposal was met with warranted accusations of convenient timing, it was a welcome change of pace from his previous approach, as it could actually do some good for Madison’s homeless.
But as Soglin coasted to another term as mayor in April, winning around 70 percent of the vote along the way, we’re back to the good old days. His most recent effort includes imposing a time limit for public bench use to deal with the issue of “drifters.” This measure basically says, “If you’re gonna be homeless, be homeless somewhere people won’t see you.”
For his triumphant return to policies that invoke the image of an irate old man shooing children from his lawn, we award Soglin the Get Off my Bench Award.
The Take the Money and Run Award: Devon Maier
Emulating the true spirit of national politicians, soon-to-be-former Student Services Finance Committee Chair Devon Maier recently did away with a practice that awarded SSFC leadership an additional stipend — after collecting his share over the past two semesters.
Aside from receiving stipends out of tuition, the SSFC chair, vice chair and secretary were also collecting about $1,000 in additional income, kindly supplementing their already-free tuition.
After a year of accepting the stipend, Maier admitted at the final meeting of the semester that although he was aware SSFC leadership should not be making an income exceeding 100 percent of tuition, he “wasn’t going to break precedent.” But he had no qualms about breaking that precedent for future leaders.
For holding on to antiquated practices as long as it’s personally beneficial, we award Maier the Take the Money and Run Award.
SSFC leaders will no longer receive additional stipendUniversity of Wisconsin’s Student Services Finance Committee approved four pieces of legislation, where the SSFC leaders will no longer receive Read…