In a win-win for students of the University of Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker’s new state budget will cut the price of tuition. Also, it will enable students to opt out of paying for programs or services that may not agree with them.
In addition to lowering the price of tuition by 5 percent for in-state students in the University of Wisconsin system, Walker’s budget could allow students the option of choosing to pay “allocable segregated fees” on their tuition bill.
“Allocable segregated fees” comprise of approximately 15 percent of the $607 in student fees that students are forced to pay each semester. Members of the college student government and college administrators then decide how to allocate these funds. They usually go to student organizations, campus services, and student bus passes.
Colin Bashruk, who is the chair of the student government committee in charge of allocating these funds at UW-Madison, believes Walker’s proposal to give students choice in funding was “big government overreach.”
“This is the best example of big government overreach, trying to take control of our allocable fees,” said Barushok. “They don’t have any business telling students they can opt-out of these fees, especially considering these fees are allocated by elected student officials.”
Other students disagreed with Barushok, however, and welcomed the opportunity to exercise choice in deciding which programs to pay for. James VandenBergh, who is vice president of the student body at UW-River Falls, was strongly in favor of student choice when it comes to these fees.
“What it comes down to is that if you care about, or use the programs offered by allocable segregated fees, then pay, if not – don’t,” said VandenBergh.
In addition to giving students more choice, the decision may also force universities in the UW system to be more cost-sensitive in determining who they invite, as well as considering to bring in more conservative voices. While the UW system spent $2.7 million on guest speakers in 2015, less than a handful were conservative, according to Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos. For example, UW-Platteville paid $45,000 to Kathy Ober, a former professor at University of Massachusetts-Amherst and co-founder of the Social Justice Training Institute, for three separate speeches in 2015 alone.
Either way, Walker’s budget is a win-win for students who want a cost-effective education and more choice when it comes to paying unnecessary fees.