College News

Students across UW System question segregated fees proposal

Jacob Schimmel, president of UW-La Crosse Student Association said their student government is strongly against Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to make allocable student segregated fees optional.

Image By: Madeline Heim

For the first time, all UW System students may be allowed to opt-out of allocable segregated fees, due to a budget proposal from Gov. Scott Walker. Touted as increased freedom of choice, students from multiple system campuses are concerned about the outcome for student organizations.

For UW-La Crosse, allocable segregated fees fund intramural and collegiate sports, campus radio, theatre, multicultural programs, musical activities, student government and safe ride, a bus for students which runs during bar hours.

“Allowing students to opt-out of paying segregated fees creates a free rider problem, requiring the implementation of more user fees, ultimately increasing the cost of college for more students than it helps,” Christopher Rudolph, a junior at UW-La Crosse, said.

Jacob Schimmel, president of UW-La Crosse Student Association, said the group is “strongly opposed to this provision of the budget” because there would be fewer opportunities for students.

“Students who opt-out of these seg fees would save a small amount of money, but the students required to shoulder the burden of offsetting this loss of funds would pay much more,” Rudolph said.

Associated Students of Madison Shared Governance Chair Omer Arain said the cost would likely be absorbed by other departments and students would pay the same amount. If a UW-Madison student opted out of these fees, they would save approximately $89 per semester.

“What it comes down to is that if you care about, or use the programs offered by allocable segregated fees, then pay, if not–don’t,” James VandenBergh, student body vice president at UW-River Falls, said. “In terms of the way it will affect UWRF and the [Student Government Association] will depend entirely on how many students decide to ‘opt-out.’”

For Catie Ray, sophomore at UW-Eau Claire, it would be great to avoid fees for groups she’s not involved in, but giving students this choice could “take away some things that many of the students look forward to being involved in.”

Walker announced other proposals, such as requiring students to do an internship or work before graduating. He also said 60 percent of degree tracks will need three year degrees by 2020.

VandenBergh said he also thought the requirement was a good idea because students should be able to apply what they’ve learned in the real world in order to be successful in their careers. He also supported Walker’s three-year recommendation and thinks UW-River Falls has “the tools necessary for students who are highly motivated to graduate in three years.”

“I think it really depends on the major,” Siri Nelson, a freshman at UW-La Crosse, said. “I need to student-teach because that’s how I will get my teaching license. People in the medical fields really should have some experience as an intern. I just don’t think it would be completely fair to say that all students need to complete a work program or internship in order to graduate.”

Lastly, Walker’s proposal included a requirement for professors to report teaching hours. Some UW-Madison faculty are unhappy about this because such a component could lead to less time spent on research.

VandenBergh agreed with Walker’s proposal because it “is an excellent measure as students will now have more interaction with their professors.” However, he thinks the component would have little impact at UW-River Falls.

With these suggestions, in-state cut tuition by 5 percent, and Walker’s promise to provide $135 million more in funding for the UW System, it’s still too early to tell how much of the current budget proposal will be finalized.

“It will be critical to see how the [cut versus aid] works out,” said UW-La Crosse Chancellor Joe Gow. “It is important to remember this is the governor’s proposal and it still has to be taken up by the JFC and the legislature.” 

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