College News

After opt-out proposal fails, UW-College Republican Chair pushes seg fee opt-out

Jake Lubenow, UW-Madison's chapter of the College Republicans, wants to bring back the opt-out.

Image By: Emily Buck

UW-Madison College Republicans Chair Jake Lubenow plans to push again for a segregated fee opt-out for students on campus, he said in an interview Thursday on a 1310 WIBA radio with Vicki McKenna.

During the interview, Lubenow and McKenna discussed the recent Campus Reform article on how liberal-leaning groups have an apparent 20:1 edge in student funding from segregated fees.

Lubenow praised Gov. Scott Walker for adding a segregated fee opt-out proposal in the state’s 2017-’19 biennial budget. Last spring, this would have allowed UW-Madison students to choose whether to pay the allocable fees, which account for roughly $90 out of the total $607 in fees students pay each semester — but the Joint Finance Committee struck it down. Since the Assembly session has concluded and won’t pick up again until next year, it is unlikely that the opt-out could come up.

But Student Services Finance Committee Rep. Max Goldfarb disagreed with the statistics. The body, which allocates the money that students would be able to opt out of, said that part of the committee’s job is to make financial decisions without allowing bias to interfere.

“The SSFC takes the doctrine of viewpoint neutrality very seriously and I believe those statistics are misleading,” Goldfarb said.

All students pay segregated fees each year. There are two types:

1. Allocable fees, which are negotiated each year and support campus organizations like Badger Catholic and Sex Out Loud, ASM and the Student Activities Center

2. Non-allocable fees cover the institution’s larger, fixed costs like University Health Services, Rec Sports and student unions.

In a statement on their Facebook page, UW-Madison’s College Republicans chapter said they were “sick and tired of being forced to fund organizations that we disagree with.”

In his interview, Lubenow specifically mentioned the organizations Sex Out Loud and Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics, saying that students having to fund these programs even though they disagree with them is “absolutely ridiculous and contrary to everything this country stands for.”

“Students are sick of funding organizations they don't agree with, especially when the cost of tuition and [other expenses] keep going up,” Lubenow said in the interview. “We want to make sure it's as cheap as possible for students to attend university.”

Lubenow hopes the university administration takes the power of these decisions away from ASM, saying that the student government was siding too often with liberals and making sure “[ASM] doesn’t have to fund conservative organizations.”

Goldfarb said that he disagrees with pursuing the policy and believes SSFC would, too. However, Goldfarb said he respects Lubenow and his passion for the opt-out clause.

“Madison is an overwhelmingly liberal institution, and therefore it shouldn’t be surprising that liberal groups receive more funding than conservative ones,” Goldfarb said. “Nonetheless, conservative groups like any other groups on campus have the opportunity to make their case to the SSFC and should be confident that decisions are made fairly and without ideological contamination.” 

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