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Monday, August 15, 2022

ASM may be too expansive to fully represent student body

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is a special place for a million reasons: top notch academics, competitive and exciting athletics, inspiring professors et cetera et cetera. One of the most important, and perhaps the most unrecognized feature that makes UW-Madison so unique is the shared governance relationship between students and administrators. In fact, Wisconsin law dictates that students must be a part of the allocation of their segregated fees. The importance of student representation in important budget and educational decisions on campus cannot be undersold. Unfortunately, the structure of our student government has become bloated and inefficient and is in desperate need of a dramatic overhaul.

The Associated Students of Madison, or ASM, is the student government body that represents all of Madison’s students. ASM has an operating budget of $1.2 million. To put that figure into context, the entire general student services fund, which bankrolls the General University Tutoring Service, the Campus Women’s Center, the Working Class Student Union, Sex Out Loud, PAVE and several other important student groups, is a total of $1.4 million. Although many students could breeze through their career at UW-Madison without much interaction with ASM, it is impossible to avoid the influence of the groups funded by the GSSF. In other words, ASM is a much more effective force on campus when they are outsourcing student services to groups such as PAVE.

Although ASM provides many resources and benefits for UW students, their inflated and inefficient organization is wasting segregated fees and undermines the good work that ASM does around campus. Yes, the Student Activity Center is a nice resource, but why does it need to managed by our student government? The more things that get absorbed by ASM, the more bloated the organization gets.

ASM needs to take on an aesthetic of minimalism, and start hacking away at their budgets in dramatic fashion. By becoming too broad in their goals, ASM has strayed from its mission of “maintaining and improving the quality of education and student life on campus.” Our student government needs to have more faith in the student leaders that are not under its own umbrella instead of trying to absorb more duties, services and responsibilities. If ASM cannot pare itself down to a more reasonable size, students should consider more dramatic action to ensure the stability and efficiency of our student government in years to come.

David is a senior majoring in English and computer science. Have an opinion on ASM? We want to hear it! Send us an email at opinion@dailycardinal.com and tell us your thoughts!

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