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Viewpoint: Why UW-L Should Opt-In

Colin Malliet

Colin Malliet

Cara Henney, Student Government Reporter

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When Governor Walker introduced his 2017-2019 budget, it included a proposal that would allow UW students to opt-out of paying their segregated fees.  This has since been removed from the budget, but is likely to be introduced in later legislation.

These fees help fund organizations all around campus.  From athletics and theater to multicultural organizations and the Pride Center.  As student senator Jeremy Ames stated, “If you look at this list, I can guarantee you, you will connect with at least one of these activities and your friends will connect with many with these activities.”

The Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee, or SUFAC, reported in their 2015-2016 budget that $947,332.00 was allocated to organizations on campus. This included nearly $50,000 for multicultural events, $87,035 for music programs on campus, and over $235,000 for varsity athletics.

Emilee Walburn, UW-L alumn, commented on the importance of funding for the arts.  “I benefited immensely from the variety of ensembles offered to me as a music student; those courses are essentially the music equivalent to a biology major’s required lab courses.”

She goes on to explain, “With both quantity and quality of ensembles being reduced due to budget cuts, there are less opportunities to apply what we are learning in classroom settings such as music theory and aural skills.”

Student Senator, Dani Kallis, and a representative of the Pride Center, expressed what these fees mean to her and her constituents.  She explained that the Pride Center at UW-L is home to various organizations that help students of the community feel at home.  These organizations are funded by the allocable segregated fees and without them they couldn’t do things like the Drag Show, which consistently has a large attendance at UW-L.

“Historically when it comes to funding, diversity orgs, the arts, and other features of the campus are often not funded well enough,” Kallis explained.  “This campus is great, but if we don’t have a pride center the education factor is going to go away. Our reputation as the best campus for LGBTQ students in the UW system is gone.”

Walker’s justification for allowing students to opt-out is that he feels students should not have to contribute to organizations they may not agree with.  In the exact same budget, Walker introduced a policy that would create repercussions for people who protest speakers on campus.  His argument was that students should be exposed to all ideas, even those they disagree with.  Seems somewhat contradictory to promote free speech, but limit which people are allowed to be heard.

“When you think about it in terms of your tuition coming to college is an investment in yourself, and when you choose to not invest in things outside the classroom you are lacking an investment in yourself,” Kallis argued.

I urge all UW-L students to not only write their representatives and express why their organization matters to them, but if this legislation passes, I urge all of you to opt in.  Support your fellow students and support the causes they care about, even if you don’t.  That is what a university is for, expanding knowledge and connecting with people who are different from you.  We simply cannot value diversity and inclusion, yet exclude the diverse perspectives we have.

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Viewpoint: Why UW-L Should Opt-In