The segregated university fees continue to work for students, build commonality in the Badger community, and foster expanded world views and broadened horizons.
Nearly 70 percent of students use University Health Services and 75 percent of student use the Division of Recreational Sport facilities. The number of fee-funded organizations has grown while losing none of the funding.
Recent news stories on Campus Reform and Fox News, among others, paint a false picture of the purpose and allocation of segregated university fees. They attempt to politicize organizations that aren’t politically affiliated, as well as stifle leadership opportunities and innovation on campus.
Why does a community pay taxes towards an educational system if they might not all have children in school? Why does a pacifist pay money towards a military they might disagree with? Because we can all agree these services benefit society.
At the University of Wisconsin, students pay segregated university fees to foster a diverse atmosphere outside of the classroom and provide students with a number of leadership opportunities. Some might disagree, saying the organizations segregated fees fund don’t support their viewpoints. But that’s the point.
The segregated university fees work to bring a variety of cultures in through student-run programming. If we only supported programming for a certain subsection of students, it wouldn’t work for anyone. It would continue to support the echo chamber of viewpoints for that subsection of students and exclude those in other groups — damaging the entire Badger community.
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If you came to college looking for a comfortable setting where your worldviews would never be challenged and you peers and institution would continue to affirm what you already know, then a public university isn’t the place for you. If you are truly firm and strong in your beliefs and affiliations, exposure to other cultures and dialogue with those from different backgrounds should work to broaden your horizons, expand your knowledge and build a stronger worldview.
Few organizations receiving segregated fee money are politically affiliated. Out of the 17 organizations eligible and receiving money from the General Student Services Fund, there is not a single explicitly politically affiliated organization.
Claims from Campus Reform and similar reports are an attempt to incorrectly politicize these organizations. The segregated university fees serve a greater purpose that directly aligns with the Wisconsin Idea. Through the responsibility of determining segregated university fees expenditures, students create their own leadership opportunities. Recent arguments from politicized sources such as Campus Reform and Fox News directly oppose this use of segregated university fees. While such fees are intended to provide networking and leadership skills, these sources spin their intent as a platform for great division between students.
Organizations receiving segregated fees adhere to all UW financial policies and are overseen by professional financial staff employed by UW and an elected student committee. This oversight ensures money is spent in a responsible and legal manner, in accordance with rules and regulations in place for every UW department and organizations. This is also applied to grants for registered student organizations.
Segregated university fees also allow students to shape what they consider important. The diversity of the General Student Services Fund, from Badger Catholic to the Atheist, Humanists and Agnostics organizations demonstrates that students consider a wide range of cultures to be important. We’re a diverse student body with several interests and a vast number of cultures.
But we all have one common ground — we’re Badgers. Badgers should work to support their community and build each other up. The segregated university fees are working for students and are needed now more than ever.
Jordan Gaal ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in life sciences communication. He is also Chair of the Student Services Finance Committee.