College News

UW System schools stand together against fee opt-out

Students traveled from across the UW System Monday to testify before the Joint Finance Committee against portions of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal before the committee submits its final recommendations.

“This is the number one issue for student governments across the state,” UW-La Crosse Student Body President Jacob Schimmel said.

Student governments across the UW System have worked together to coordinate their opposition to the proposed opt-out.

Walker’s budget proposal would make it optional for all UW System students to pay allocable segregated fees. At UW-Madison, this would result in an overall cost decrease of $89 per semester.

Student representatives from UW-Madison, UW-La Crosse and UW-Whitewater spoke at the JFC hearing Monday to voice concern for how the opt-out would affect their respective campus communities.

Allocable segregated fees at UW-Madison pay for ASM and all student organizations that receive funding through the General Student Service Fund. At some UW System schools, allocable segregated fees pay for varsity athletics.

Charles Clark—Regional Executive Officer and Dean for the UW Colleges Southwest—called Walker’s budget, which would increase general purpose revenue to the system by $35 million and decrease tuition by 5 percent “a step forward for the UW System,” but asked the committee to oppose the opt-out.

Students from smaller UW System schools testified against the opt-out, warning of the potential effects it could have on smaller economies in the state.

UW-Whitewater Athletics events bring 54,910 individuals to the town and contribute $7 million to the area’s economy, according to a study done by the UW-Whitewater Economics Department.

UW-Whitewater students added that the program provides 90 jobs and leadership opportunities for students.

“We see allocable fees as neither Democratic or conservative. They are an irreplaceable source that gives students an avenue to pursue their passions,” one UW-Whitewater student-athlete stated.

Schimmel thanked the governor for increasing overall revenue to the UW System but spoke out against the opt-out. He cited the effect it would have on student athletics and transportation in La Crosse

“The real risk with an opt-out would be that we might get in a situation where student-athletes are having to pay to play sports.” Schimmel went on to compare UW-La Crosse athletics with UW-Madison

“In D1 they get money covered, they get tuition covered, well now we’re going to be in a situation where people are going to have to pay dues to be a part of varsity athletics, which is just ridiculous,” said Schimmel.

Many student organizations focus on workforce development and enhancing classroom education for UW-La Crosse students, so, Schimmel said, a loss in allocable fees could result in a drop in quality of education.

“A drop in quality there might mean a drop in quality of students, or a lack of interest in those students to get involved because those organizations interact with the community,” Schimmel stated.

UW-Madison students representing Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics, Badger Catholic, Adventure Learning Programs and FH King Students for Sustainable Agriculture all spoke at the hearing. 

Students from UW-Milwaukee are expected to attend the next JFC public hearing Wednesday.

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