The latest victim of the Republican-controlled state Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker’s many attacks on college education could be the numerous services funded by segregated fees that so many students rely on.
Every semester, students pay about $89 as part of the allocable segregated fees, which fund things like our bus passes; Student Print; organizations like Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment and Veterans, Educators, and Traditional Students; and many other services and student organizations. About $8 of the $89 goes specifically to usage and maintenance of the Student Activity Center’s facilities, which houses many student organizations.
If Walker’s proposed budget passes as is, students could choose not to pay the $89 in allocable fees, thus reducing the total money supply the school and student government can work with to pay for these services, eventually reducing the services we as students receive. While this may seem like a way to save students money, in reality, this would jeopardize services almost every University of Wisconsin student needs.
Walker has proposed every student should have a job or an internship during their time in college. How are we supposed to get to these jobs if our bus passes are defunded? Jobs within walking distance from our homes are not always an option, and the bus pass that Associated Students of Madison funds, saves students much-needed time and money.
Our bus passes will not be the only thing on the chopping block if the opt out policy passes.
Working Class Student Union, Wisconsin Black Student Union, Badger Catholic, PAVE, Sex Out Loud, Greater University Tutoring Service, Badger SPILL, Campus Women’s Center, VETS, the Tenant Resource Center, the Rape Crisis Center and so many other organization could lose funding and be forced to discontinue the work that they do to better the lives of students.
Not only would the opt out directly affect university-funded student organizations, but it could also render the ASM Grant Allocation Committee obsolete. This committee provides funding for hundreds of student orgs to do things like bring in speakers and travel to conferences and conventions. Both the College Democrats and the College Republicans have taken advantage of these grants.
In addition to the defunding of our student orgs, the very building in which many of them are housed may not be available for general student use anymore. Since ASM may not have enough money to keep renting out the space, the SAC may very well fall into private hands. It could be turned into apartments, stores or anything else that can turn a profit, which unfortunately does not come from allowing students to study for free in the space.
Another likely outcome could be that the SAC would just charge organizations to use it: Any of the more than 100 organizations that applied for space in the SAC, or the 200 organizations that wanted to reserve rooms in the space would be charged, placing yet another burden on orgs that lose university funding or no longer have access to ASM grants.
Republicans claim students should be able to opt out of something that does not represent their views. These legislators conveniently ignore the fact ASM is legally bound by viewpoint neutrality and cannot choose to fund organizations based on the personal biases of student representatives.
If segregated fees are eliminated, ASM will no longer be subject to viewpoint neutrality, and thus millions of dollars will be allocated according to the ideologies of the current student government.
When many of us first stepped onto campus, we were told joining a student organization would be crucial in making our time at UW a fulfilling and well-rounded experience. Would this still ring true when the power of our nearly 900 organizations is significantly diminished?
If the strength of our organizations is significantly reduced because of a lack of funding, our variety of student organizations — which provide the unique opportunities for students to learn outside of the classroom that UW boasts — will be gone.
Republicans are completely out of touch with how their decisions will affect students’ lives all over the state.
Republicans cannot claim to support education, students and the growth of one of our state’s greatest institutions without recognizing that student services funded by allocable segregated fees are an integral part in student life. Students love coming to UW, and they find success because of their experience at this university because we are able to apply the knowledge we learn from our esteemed professors outside of the classroom.
By limiting access to these opportunities, the opt out would fundamentally diminish the character of our campus and all UW schools.