College News

Potential segregated fee policy changes to ensure consistency across UW System

The Board of Regents will revise segregated fee policies for the entire UW System, ultimately changing the way some campuses use the money.

Image By: Betsy Osterberger

UW System schools may have to change the way they use segregated fees after state lawmakers approved a measure Thursday requiring the Board of Regents to revise fee policies.

The Board of Regents will now re-classify allocable and non-allocable fees at all UW campuses to ensure consistency after the state’s Joint Committee on Finance approved the UW System budget Thursday. The Board of Regents will report their policies to the JFC for a review, but ultimately need a green light from the committee to increase allocable segregated fees.

For some, the new requirement is troubling.

“Regents may have the power to rob students of autonomy by classifying allocable services as non-allocable,” said Associated Students of Madison Chair of Legislative Affairs Kat Kerwin.

Because UW System schools use their segregated fees for different purposes, certain campuses will be hit harder than others depending on how the Board of Regents writes the new policies.

For James VandenBergh, student body vice president at UW-River Falls, these differences should be taken into account because even though student programming is defined in UW System Administrative Policy, there’s “a lot of grey space.”

“If it comes down as a mandate, as something that is set in stone, that all universities need to abide by - that could create a number of problems,” VandenBergh said. “For instance, if they deem that the segregated fees can’t go to pay for athletics then Milwaukee is in a lot of trouble. They have to come up with that money or they have to eliminate all their athletic programs.”

Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal proposed an opt-out of segregated fees for students, causing groups that receive funding on UW campuses to worry about their continued existence. Although the opt-out was not included in the UW motion on Thursday, it could still be reintroduced over the summer as a separate piece of legislation. 

VandenBergh said he doesn’t support the opt-out, but does support the budget the UW System proposed and hopes Wisconsinites also give their support.

He said through his talks with state lawmakers, Wisconsin is slowly understanding the importance of funding the UW System.

“There’s a lot at stake here across the UW System and this goes back to the state of Wisconsin prioritizing the UW System and making sure it has what it needs,” VandenBergh said.

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