United Council: The Rationale of Yes

Nearly all of you are aware that it is ASM’s election season once again (go VOTE if you haven’t, preferably for me ūüôā ), and again most of you know that United Council membership is again on the ballot. You may be receiving lots of invitations to vote one way or another and whichever way you vote is truly fine, as long as it is an informed vote.

Today, a large ad crying Vote NO! and an accompanying piece from the Editorial Board appeared in the Badger Herald.  While not denying that these groups have a right to express their thoughts, I wish it was at least accurate and informed.

The Ed Board piece comes from a group that only knows of United Council through press releases and having UC’s governmental relations guy, Michael, tell them what the story is at the capital. ¬†While I commend them for trying to act in the best interest of campus, there are many factual errors in the piece.

There are two main errors within the main argument

  1. Technical colleges ARE NOT a part of United Council.  If anything we spend a lot of time thwarting them because our UW College system directly competes for talent, resources, and their very livelihoods
  2. Failed to mobilize students: This is a half truth. ¬†In general the campaigns are not mass movement in nature. It’s more like Policy Wonk A from Madison meets Policy Wonk B from Stevens Point and they team with Policy Wonk C from Milwaukee in implementing a program that Policy Wonk D started at Parkside. That being said, United Council did take part in the protests against the Budget Repair Bill (specifically for our Teaching Assistants and Faculty) by funding buses and organizing students from around the state to come on down.

Folks, United Council is far from perfect. ¬†We have infighting, personal issues, procedural snafus and overall legitimacy crisis; so basically, it’s the same as every student government that has ever existed. ¬†With Madison likely to begin operating under a new administrative model after July 1, we need statewide support to continue. ¬†We cannot think that issues that will affect UW System will not affect us. ¬†Cuts to Education are top down, indiscriminate of models of administration. ¬†Additionally, United Council maintains the largest archive of Shared Governance information in the state. ¬†This archive has stuff from every school going back decades. ¬†It’s absolutely essential this is preserved going into the brave new waters of public authority status where we will need to fight to keep Shared Governance as we know it.

Vote Yes. ¬†A vote no is taking your ball and going home because the other kids playing ball are being mean to you. Let’s grow up a bit. ¬†You can’t reform a system from the outside; you need to be at the table. Let’s stay at the table and keep ourselves open to our Badgers across the state.

-AJ

Disclaimer: I am a current Board member of United Council and am a candidate for President at the upcoming convention. Take anything from those statements that you wish.


Senior Class Officer: Differentiation

(Warning: lots of text: Tl;dr version below)

 
I’ve heard from many people, public and private, that there is a question about what differentiates me from Tom in this race. ¬†I’ll be the first to admit that there are similarities: we both were Vice-Chair of ASM, we come from the student government mindset, and we have a history of campus controversy.

 
But after that, I feel I gain the edge. ¬†Senior Class Officers are about constituents and challenging your own point of view. This is about discussion. God bless Tom, I love him, yet I feel that I am more capable of having a true and frank discussion. This position doesn’t craft policy, nor govern. This position makes graduation and our legacy awesome; this I feel warrants a phenomenal amount of discussion.

 
I was an ASM Council Rep for two years, talking consistently with my contacts, classes and friends (which did not address everyone, but was an effort) and I was also a Board member for United Council representing all of Madison

 
Being a Board Member of United Council certainly brings a perspective of what being a leader at Madison truly means to the state. ¬†Our research affects how many people apply to their schools. Our athletics brings theirs to a higher national prestige, and our curriculum works with theirs to ensure that students across the state receive a fantastic education and that their diploma will be lifted by the “University of Wisconsin” brand that we help establish.

 
Through this, I bring a statewide perspective. Our graduation ceremony not only represents us, but it showcases Wisconsin as a whole. Our values are reflected in our speaker and the process. Currently, we value community minded individuals in a small intimate ceremony, which reflects the “Good neighbor” Wisconsin we all know and love. Should this change? Perhaps. But I know I’m not the one who should be making that call with my friends. ¬†Discussions need to be had.

 

 
So, the tl;dr version of this is: I think I’m better at having discussions and making this a transparent and open position than Tom is.

 
Feel free to ask questions!

 

PS: I originally wrote this as a Facebook comment which is why the length is odd for a post like this.

-AJ

 


Senior Class Officers

So as some of our readers already know, I am running for Senior Class Vice-President against a good friend of mine, Tom Templeton.  My motives for running are not personal but an overall dissatisfaction with the operation of the officers in the past and ideas on how to make being a senior here an overall better experience.

I’ve been frustrated in the past with the secret, almost clandestine nature of the senior class officers. ¬†Making decisions that will affect all their fellow Badgers on one of the most important days of their lives seems ill-advised. ¬†Let’s hold some forums to talk about what the class and campus want to see from graduation. Additionally, the senior class gift is something that I’ve never heard great discussions about, despite being good friends with nearly all the current senior class officers. We should have discussions about how we will be remembered on campus (I’m partial to a golden Mike Leckrone in the place of the Football-Phallus near Camp Randall ūüėČ

Questions about graduation are numerous as well. Do we want a single big ceremony at Camp Randall? Do we prefer the smaller, intimate sessions at the Kohl Center more? ¬†What about a mixture? ¬†For some, the goal is to get the hell out as soon as possible. For others, the thrill of walking across that stage, shaking Chancellor Martin’s hand and getting that diploma is the memorable event instead of any speaker. ¬†These are legitimate and nuanced questions that the class officers must face and I’m dedicated to asking for feedback.

With ASM passing a Commencement Speaker fund this year, we should be able to attract some top tier speakers and make graduation visible nationally, but we must remember that the ultimate goal is service to our graduating Badgers. National recognition means nothing if our students feel slighted.

I’m committed to an inclusive and thoughtful tenure in office and I’d like for all of you (that are in Madison, at least) to join with me in this effort. Together, we can make this a class to remember.

-AJ


New Badger Partnership: Playing Off Fear

A lot of the critiques of the Badger Partnership have been a little off base with what the current situation is, and what the legislation proposes to do. Sam Seering posted the most recent rebuttals to some of these rumors floating around and is overall, pretty comprehensive.

On a side note, later today, I will post about the Student Representatives meeting Brandon and I went to. ¬†This was the first venue where all the critiques of the NBP were very well articulated, thought out, and actually reasonable concerns that go beyond vague fear-mongering notions of “privatization” or “militarization”. ¬†So, thanks Reps ūüôā

-AJ


New Badger Partnership: TV Time

Shameless self promotion here.  Check out this clip on Channel 3 Nightly News from last night talking about the impact of the budget on students.

Walker’s Budget Cuts $250 Million From UW System.


New Badger Partnership: My Open Letter to ASM and Students

I wrote this yesterday in response to the Governor’s budget proposal.

Dear members of ASM,

Today, Governor Walker released his proposal for the state’s budget for the 2011-13¬†biennial. ¬†As expected, there were provisions for UW Madison to gain many of the flexibilities that Chancellor Martin has been advocating for through the New Badger Partnership and¬†sizeable¬†hits to many state agencies, including higher education. ¬†While many of the details have yet to be fully explored, it is clear that the University of Wisconsin Madison will not be spared from a comprehensive cut to our operations.

I implore you to continue to do your research on what the proposed budget, coupled with the Budget Repair Bill, will mean for the University. ¬†While it is easy to jump to conclusions, we must stay vigilant and informed to avoid the spreading of misinformation and adding to the vitriol of the public debate. ¬†Check your facts–double check them–and think long and hard about what they will mean for our university, both in the immediate and for generations to come. ¬†We cannot afford to be ill informed at this juncture.

I have seldom been happier with ASM than I have in the past few weeks.  The Budget Repair Bill has offered a chance for the student voice to be heard in a way that I have not witnessed in my time on this campus.  While there was not consensus on the solutions, or even the problem for that matter, opponents still offered feedback and constructively added to the discussion.  Students were able to manifest their strengths into their respective niches, allowing us to become an effective organization.

That said, I need you to maintain this momentum.  Again, there will never be agreement on the solutions at hand, or even the problems, but we must remain cognizant of our place as representatives of students.  Everyone will need to utilize their strengths once more.  Organizers will need to organize.  Policymakers will need to make policy.  Lobbyists will need to lobby.  Leaders will need to lead.

I do not know what will come out of the budget cycle, but our eyes need to be fixed on the capitol.  I doubt that changes to this bill will be easy, but we are advocates for the student body and need to stay committed to that interest.  I hope that you will join me in the next few months as we work together to thoughtfully preserve the quality and accessibility of our university.

As always, please feel free to contact me if you have questions, concerns, or thoughts.

Best,
Brandon

As I said, the next few months will require vigilance and strong adherence to our duty.  This goes for the entirety of campus and anyone who is interested in the future of higher education in the state.  Feel free to contact me if you are looking for ways to help.

-BJW


First Look: Governor Walker’s Proposed Budget Executive Summary

I’ve just obtained a copy of the Governor’s proposed Budget Executive Summary and Budget in Brief.

The section on higher education begins on page 13.  This is the exact language of that section (emphasis mine):

  • Positions UW-Madison to improve its ability to remain a world leader in research and instruction by¬†restructuring¬†the campus as an independent authority. Greater independence for the state’s¬†flagship¬†campus will enhance the Madison campus’ potential as a major research institution for job creation, recruitment of top faculty and students, research and patent production, and to better server Wisconsin’s businesses, parent and students.
  • Prioritizes funding for UW System campuses over administration by requiring larger share of financial aid reduction to be realized by UW System Administration–25 percent ompared to 11 percent for campuses.
  • Exempts student financial aid from GPR reductions while providing a modest tuition increase for UW System institutions to keep resident undergraduate tuition affordable ¬†fir Wisconsin’s families.
  • Prevents cuts to financial aid by limiting Wisconsin Covenant program to students signing pledge before September 30, 2011.
  • Directs UW System to develop plan to transition UW¬†Milwaukee¬†into a private authority.

A couple of things to note here:

  1. Page 33 expands on the idea of making Milwaukee a private authority.  It is curious that they used the word private there.  On page 33, they again refer to it as a public authority,and giforces UW system to spend $250,000 on the project.
  2. Financial aid is exempted from the GPR cuts
  3. On page 34: “eliminate nonresident tuition ad fee exemptions for undocumented persons” in the UW System.
  4. Page 68 breaks down the proposal for UW Madison in depth.

So, the moment everyone has been waiting for: What’s the damage?

Well, its worse than we thought.

According to the document (page 71):

“Reduce state aid by $250 million over the biennuium to University of Wisconsin System institutions and University of Wisconsin-Madison to help address the state budget defecit.”

Okay, we knew this.

“The reduction would be split equally between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin System Campuses”

Split equally?  My reading of that, coupled with evidence from the rest of the document, indicates that UW Madison is looking at a $125 million cut to our state funding!

How will we deal with this?  What raise in tuition would this require?  What can we change as the bill makes its way through the legislature?

More to come…