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Student reps meet to unite system

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Student reps meet to unite system

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Four student representatives from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville traveled to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse to meet with student representatives from all 26 System universities for a discussion surrounding the UW System Authority proposal.

The Better UW Initiative is a collaborative effort among student representatives across the UW System. Its main focus is involving students, families and taxpayers in the advancement toward a more efficient UW System due to the lack of state support.

According to a handout distributed at the meeting, Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget plan will cause the UW System to see a $300 million General Purpose Revenue cut over the 2015-17 biennium, which will reduce annual finances received from the state by $150 million, over 13 percent of total state support for the System.

“Gov. Walker’s proposed cut to the UW System is frightening. We don’t deny that students deserve a break and we need to keep college affordable, but a tuition freeze will only be effective if it’s accompanied by an increase in state funding. Otherwise, we are simply telling students, ‘You can’t have what you need to be successful’,” Ryan Sorenson, a junior political science major and president of student association at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said. “A cut from state funding coupled with a tuition freeze will only leave our students with an embarrassingly sub-standard educational experience. To move Wisconsin forward, we need to invest in higher education and the future success of our generation.”

Along with upholding the core values of education and affordability, UW System representatives urge students, families and communities to actively participate in decisions regarding the budget cuts.

As university leaders, student governance representatives are reaching out to students and communities through fliers, emails and social media to educate them on involvement and proposed resolutions. Possible resolutions include: a recommendation to cap tuition to ensure it does not increase after the tuition freeze ending in the 2016-2017 academic year; a recommendation to minimize cuts in state funding; and a recommendation that shared governance should continue if the public authority model is adopted.

“This budget campaign is an opportunity for students and community members all over Wisconsin to have their voices heard on the proposed changes to the UW System and what the impact would have on the UW System, the universities and the students and community itself,” Hannah Corcoran, senior in Spanish and education major and student senate chief of staff, said.

Corcoran, who also serves as the secretary of student representatives for the UW System, emphasized the responsibility students have to their institutions. As stated in statute 36.09(5) of the Wisconsin State Legislature, “students shall have primary responsibility for the formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services and interests.”

“As constituents, we have the opportunity to engage our legislators, specifically Howard Marklein, our local state senator, who currently sits on the Joint Financial Committee, to ensure that our voices are heard,” Joseph Sigwarth, a junior business administration major and student body president, said. “Not only that, but also the opportunity to coordinate this with students from across the state is an experience that builds unique life skills that one would not normally be able to attain at the college level,” Sigwarth said.

For more information regarding the Better UW Initiative, visit www.uwreps.com.

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Student reps meet to unite system