Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Ed Board

Our Editorial Board's fall retrospective

As the fall semester comes to an end, The Daily Cardinal Editorial Board reflects on the past few months with a series of short recaps.

Walker and the Syrian refugees

In November, Gov. Scott Walker joined his fellow conservative gubernatorial cohorts in issuing a statement that refused any proposed Syrian refugees who would be resettled to Wisconsin. In light of the terrorist attacks in Paris, xenophobia disguised as concern for national security swept through the nation, which led many Americans to ignore facts and view this coalition of governors as brave mavericks attempting to defend their constituents.

In hindsight, however, these statements denying refugees are not only baseless fearmongering by politicians rooted in spurning American values, but also shameless pandering to their voter bases. Since governors have no power in actually denying refugees, they can only attempt to make the process Syrians must already pass through to get to the U.S. more difficult.

This band of governors has willfully misinformed the American public on the extensive vetting process refugees go through, and has warped the image of America as a safe haven for those attempting to flee oppression. By rejecting refugees, these governors further burden the states and nations that willingly accept refugees.

Affordable housing in Madison

Towering cranes routinely move from place to place throughout the Madison skyline, often supplanted by looming student apartment complexes they help build. While this construction is a boon to local property developers, the proliferation of these high-end units is making housing less affordable for students.

There’s nothing wrong with building new apartments, and we understand the need for it because of the city’s low vacancy rate. However, the average rent at many of these locations is outside of a typical student’s budget. Older homes with cheaper rent have occasionally been condemned to make room for these glittering new high-rises without any inexpensive alternatives taking their place.

As luxury apartments become the norm for off-campus living, students who otherwise would not have lived there will be pushed to despite financial limitations. College is expensive enough as it is. Property companies need to make a commitment to keeping rents affordable, because ultimately that’s what students want most—not a golf simulator or a tanning salon.

Homelessness

It seems as though the issue of homelessness in Madison is one that, unfortunately, is recurring. Rhetoric flows around “fixing the homeless problem,” but at present, there is little to show for these sentiments.

In an effort to create tangible change, the Dane County Board of Supervisors approved funding last month to build a homeless resource center near the 1300 block of East Washington Avenue. The center will provide food, laundry services and storage space for homeless individuals in need, and is pegged to open in October 2016.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox

In addition, the city budget for next fiscal year increased its allocation toward homeless resources by 30 percent, allotting nearly $1.2 million in taxes to things like shelter space and outreach services.

The approval of the resource center and city funding allocations is a start. It’s promising to see these conversations taking place and to have actions following rhetoric. However, until we see these plans reach fruition, Madisonians remain in hopeful anticipation, left only with promises of change.

Government restructuring

After Gov. Scott Walker was re-elected in 2014, the state Legislature embarked on restructuring the state government. Instead of listening to constituents and working to improve the number of jobs in Wisconsin, Republicans spent most of 2015 attempting to deregulate the ways in which prosecutors can investigate state officials and strip the Governmental Accountability Board, which oversees the state’s campaign finance laws.

Over the summer, state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and other state officials tried to quietly strip Wisconsin’s powerful open records laws. Democrats, both in and out of the state, quickly lambasted Republicans as they tried to end the state’s history of governmental accountability, a point which continued throughout the fall as the Legislature fast-tracked bills to change the civil service system in the state, and state elections.

The state Legislature has continued to propose bills which the political right favors, something they have every right to do as leaders in state government, but this puts them in stark contrast with the needs to the state. Wisconsin needs accountable, open governance to best serve the state, and, unfortunately, the actions of the state Legislature don’t align with what Wisconsin needs.

Out-of-state enrollment cap lifted

In October, the Board of Regents removed the cap on out-of-state enrollment that previously guaranteed no more than 27.5 percent of enrolled students would be out-of-state residents. As before, the university will still be required to enroll at least 3,600 Wisconsin residents.

Though the number of enrolled Wisconsinites will not be altered, the percentage of the incoming freshman class from the state of Wisconsin will decrease as a result of an unlimited out-of-state enrollment allowance, which the university plans to use to enroll 200 to 300 more nonresidents, including Minnesotans and international students.

While enrolling more nonresidents—who pay much higher tuition rates, with the exception of Minnesotans—will likely provide much needed financial help and increase geographic and ethnic diversity, it goes against some core values that many believe the university should stand for. The decision was made without support from the Associated Students of Madison, and many students worry that with more students enrolled, the quality of education the university offers to each student will diminish.

Furthermore, we as a board expect to see this impact on the university over the next few years. While the effect is not seen at present, it could be detrimental to UW-Madison as a whole.

Student activism on campus

UW-Madison has a long history of student activism on campus. From the campus’ status as the “Berkeley of the Midwest” in the ’60s to the 2011 protests against Gov. Walker’s Act 10 bill, students have continued the spirit of activism to let their voices ring across campus. This year, however, the protests highlighted the racial disparities facing people of color across America.

The protests at the University of Missouri in November made their way to Madison in the form of a protest in solidarity. Hundreds of students marched from Bascom Hall through State Street, stopping periodically to discuss microaggressions and other racially charged events on UW-Madison’s campus. As UW-Madison is a predominantly white institution, it’s extremely important that white students on campus hear the very real experiences of people of color on campus, especially during a year in which media outlets have set out to demonize these movements.

Other organizations have also continued the spirit of activism on campus, including various faith-based groups holding a candlelight vigil after the Paris attacks and the Teaching Assistants’ Association fighting against a proposed restructuring of their pay.

These are only three instances of students continuing the spirit of activism on campus, and it’s refreshing to see fellow students standing in solidarity with one another during a very troubling year.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Cardinal