The Board of Regents recently passed a measure supported by Chancellor Rebecca Blank that lifts the out-of-state student enrollment cap, a move that dilutes the mission of the university and exacerbates existing socioeconomic divides across the student population. We support Associated Students of Madison’s position in opposition of this non-solution.

Regents committee approves resolution ending non-resident enrollment limitsThe University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents Education Committee approved a resolution Thursday to waive UW’s current nonresident enrollment Read…

As ASM noted in their recent letter, this decision did not involve campus stakeholders like students, faculty or academic staff, and explicitly ignored the recommendations of a shared governance body responsible for this area of campus policy. The Regents also ignored requests to delay the vote on the request, muzzling time for debate and deliberation.

For a chancellor and Regents that adamantly insisted shared governance would not change after Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget, this is not a good omen for student and campus rights.

Besides the flippant disregard of campus opinion and Blank’s own promises, this proposal is simply a band-aid for UW’s bullet wounds. Increasing enrollment off the backs of out-of-state students simply increases class sizes, reduces the focus on Wisconsin students who disproportionately stay in the state after graduation and strains resources already pushed to their breaking point. Will the additional revenue cover enough faculty and class space to teach the surplus of new students? Will it fund additional dormitories to accommodate the incoming out-of-state students or are we content to subject these students to Madison’s already bursting rental market?

Leading up to the decision, Blank stated several times that declining numbers of high school graduates in Wisconsin, and not revenue generation, was the driving factor behind this proposal, but the chancellor’s excuse fails to address a larger issue.

The Wisconsin Idea should not be disregarded because it is easier to let in out-of-state students than address why fewer high-performing Wisconsin students are applying to UW. Instead of the Regent’s collective apathetic shrug toward Wisconsin students, UW should be working with our K-12 primary systems to improve college readiness and address other underlying factors.

As Noel Radomski, director of UW’s WISCAPE, said this move will make the university “richer and whiter.” Instead of increasing enrollment by targeting low-income and underrepresented Wisconsin students, UW now joins the ranks of public institutions that are happy with increasing the — already substantial — socioeconomic divide on campus. Making UW a bougie playground for the greater Chicagoland area is not the way to keep Wisconsin a world-class institution.

Increasing out-of-state enrollment in a time when Wisconsin residents need the education and services of the university more than ever is a disservice to students, faculty, staff and the state. Increasing the divide between those who have and those who have-not at UW will only reinforce Coastie and Sconnie stereotypes until campus becomes the caricatures it derides.

Good on ASM for opposing the proposal, but it seems like this administration is rarely as interested in shared governance as it claims.