College News

ASM commemorates 25th year, looks back at legacy

The Associated Students of Madison greet the 25th session with promising past and hopeful future, according to many of the current representatives.

Image By: Laura Mahoney

The Associated Students of Madison found a home at UW-Madison in 1994. This year, they celebrate 25 years.

But, for Student Services Finance Committee chair Jeremy Swanson, the number is only a promise of what is yet to come.

“ASM has always encouraged forward progress at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While certainly not always popular, we ensure that the student voice is heard by campus, by administration and by the state, and will continue to do so,” Swanson said.

Beginning in the 1890s, a combination of the faculty, administration and Board of Regents made the decision to give students a more hands-on approach to student life and activities.

In 1893, the Dean of Women created the Women’s Self-Government Association to allow female students the opportunity to govern within their community and as a way to “further in every way the spirit of unity among the women at the University.”

Forty years later, WSGA and the Men’s Union Board joined House President’s Council to create the Wisconsin Student Association. Over a period of years and merging positions, the WSA adopted a 25-cent mandatory fee for all students in 1943. This was the first official step toward the current required segregated fees.

After organizations were at risk of losing funds completely, the Dean of Students announced the necessity for a student government and ASM was created.

“This creates a marketplace of ideas on campus and improves the intellectual and extracurricular environment for all students,” Swanson said.

ASM is the collective mind behind every student bus pass and the services of StudentPrint. The Student Activity Center works as any epicenter for all things ASM-related, while also providing a space for students to study and interact with their peers.

They are built on the principle of being a grassroots organization, using their position as students to establish a presence in the administration.

ASM has succeeded in fostering 24-hour libraries, increasing voter registration and making mandatory study days prior to exams. They resisted the opt-out of allocable segregated fees proposed by Gov. Scott Walker during the biennial budget process.

“We allocate these fees to help give students an educational experience outside of the classroom via services like the Wisconsin Union to financing their favorite student organization. This allows ASM to promote and enrich the university through the Wisconsin Idea,” Outreach Director Trask Crane said.

Shifting into the 25th session provided Chair Billy Welsh with the opportunity to tackle a new role as he traveled from intern to leading the session. This session will mark his fourth and final.

“Even though my responsibilities have changed, the underlying responsibility to represent and fight for the needs of students has defined everything I have done,” Welsh said.

Looking forward to the upcoming year, the representatives are hopeful that they will foster positive change within the university. This will develop an opportunity for students to engage with their community and promote advocacy through their lifetime.

“I know that we will make our campus a more civically engaged, sustainable and inclusive place this school year,” Welsh said.

Although Welsh will be leaving ASM this year, he will look back at the work the organization has done with a bittersweet farewell.

“I think that I will be incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities and skill development ASM has given me, and it makes me sad to think that one day I will not be involved in this incredibly good and important group,” Welsh said.

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