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Friday, August 12, 2022

ASM leaders release memorandum detailing UW-Madison’s alleged lobby practices

Two leaders of the Associated Students of Madison released a memorandum on Sunday outlining alleged lobbying efforts by UW-Madison administration relating to the funding of UW facilities and services with segregated fees. 

This memorandum, from ASM Chair Matthew Mitnick and Grant Allocation Committee Chair Sam Jorudd, was released prior to ASM’s Student Services Finance Committee’s (SSFC) meeting on Monday, where SSFC members will discuss a budget for University Recreation and Wellbeing (RecWell). 

At SSFC’s meeting on Thursday, RecWell Director Aaron Hobson presented a budget proposal to representatives, which included a request to increase students’ segregated fees by $1.20, which led to discussions between representatives and Hobson on financial circumstances related to the pandemic.

In these discussions, Mitnick alleged that he was lobbied by RecWell in September 2020. 

In the memorandum, Mitnick and Jorudd presented a timeline that started on Sept. 18, where the student leaders said that the Wisconsin Union and RecWell started lobbying ASM for reserve funds. The timeline covers exchanges between ASM representatives and UW-Madison administration that continued up to Feb. 18.

Mitnick and Jorudd requested that SSFC hold off on making budget decisions until after the ASM Student Judiciary investigates these lobbying allegations. 

The memorandum ends with a series of seven email exchanges between ASM leaders and RecWell faculty to show evidence of the Nov. 4, 2020 ASM Reserve Board meeting conversations. Mitnick and Jorudd allege in the memorandum timeline that discussions on allocating reserve funds to entities such as RecWell and the Wisconsin Union occurred at that meeting. 

UW-Madison Director of News and Media Relations Meredith McGlone denies allegations that said entities lobbied ASM leaders.

“The Dean of Students, RecWell and Wisconsin Union staff members and student leaders have addressed these concerns repeatedly with ASM leaders — no lobbying has occurred,” McGlone said. “University administrators continue to follow all applicable laws and policies as they work to support students’ wellbeing and access to services during the pandemic. Any suggestion otherwise is false; it also detracts from meaningful action to help students.”

RecWell and the Wisconsin Unions are two of the non-allocable entities in which budgets SSFC gives recommendations on. The SSFC is responsible for overseeing the allocation of nearly $51 million in segregated fees. 

SSFC will further discuss RecWell’s budget at their meeting on Monday.

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