If you’ve walked around UWM’s campus at all, odds are you’ve probably run into the Military and Veterans Resource Center, the LGBT Resource Center, or the Center for Community Based Learning, Leadership and Research. In the near future, however, there’s a chance you won’t see any more of these organizations, or any other centers like these at UWM.
This is due to a recent budget proposal for UW – Schools submitted by Governor Scott Walker last February. Along with cutting the rate of undergraduate student tuition by 5 percent, Walker is also allowing the opportunity for students to choose to opt-out of paying for allocable segregated fees.
There are two types of segregated fees that UWM students pay for each semester, these being non – allocable, and allocable. Allocable segregated fees are fees that students pay for specific programs, organizations, and opportunities at UWM. According to the Student Association at UWM segregated fees “improve student life,” on campus. However, these fees are only paid by students who take credits directly on campus.
Student Association President Mike Sportiello is not in favor of Governor Walker’s proposal. “There are better ways to save students money than to cut segregated fees,” said Sportiello. “If students know they can opt out of segregated fees, I think the vast majority will. If we just become another school that serves to middle class to upper-class white people, then I think we lose a lot of what makes UWM most special.”
Sportiello is talking about some of the Centers that are funded by allocable segregated fees, two of these being the MAVRC, and the LGBT Resource Center. These centers provide direct assistance to students considering that UWM educates more veterans than any other university in Wisconsin, and is also a 5-star campus on the LGBT-friendly Campus Climate Index.
Students currently pay $229 a semester in allocable fees, totaling over 10 million dollars per year. According to the UWM Bursar Office, this number is determined by both the Student Association, and in part by the Chancellor.
Chancellor Mark Mone sent out an email to all UWM students and faculty in response to Walker’s budget proposal. In it he was critical of the Governor’s proposal, saying that these allocable fees “go much further than to fund student activities, they contribute to create a safer, more complete learning environment for those that need it most.”
However, Governor Walker’s Deputy Communications Officer Thomas Evenson said in a statement “At a time when we want to make college more affordable, we should not be forcing all students to pay for things such as ‘Sex Out Loud.’” Sex Out Loud is a UW – Madison program that received $103,398 in funding last year according to an article in the Wisconsin State Journal.
Governor Walker also said in a Press Release that he believes an opt – out system will help students decide what they do and do not want to pay for on campus. The Press Release also pointed out that allocable segregated fees do not go towards “long-term commitments, or ongoing operational costs of university owned and controlled buildings.”
However, students may have more difficulty getting to campus if programs like UPASS and the BOSS shuttle service were cut.
The Women’s Resource Center and the Center for Community Based Learning, Leadership and Research are also at risk. The Women’s Resource Center provides support for both men and women on campus dealing with issues such as “stalking, sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence.” The CCBLLR also provides students with resources for work program opportunities, volunteering within the community of Milwaukee, and service learning initiatives.
Ben Trager, director of the CCBLLR said in an interview “The more involved you are, the more you know what’s available at your fingertips.” He also said, “UW-Milwaukee has a core commitment to graduating students who are dedicated to community engagement and leadership.”
In an interview, Alex Walker, the Chairman of the Federation of College Republicans in Wisconsin, and the Governor’s son, said that he agrees with the proposal. “All the organizations I run are self – sufficient,” said Walker. He said that his organizations are self – sufficient through private contributions, fundraising and membership dues among other things.
UWM Centers on campus were not allowed to give a personal statement about how this might affect their organization, but Associate Vice Chancellor Jim Hill did say in a statement on the issue:
“If individual students had the opportunity to opt out of paying these fees, we would anticipate that the programs funded by those fees might no longer be sustainable, and this would amount to another significant cut to programs for students.”
The proposed budget would go into effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year.