Thoughts on TCF?

Hey readers of TCF (which according to our stats, is about 25 of you),

So as many of you may know, this has been a busy time for Adam and I.  We just finished our term up as the coolest ASM Chair/Vice-Chair combo in history, AJ is finishing up finals and has a lot to talk about, and I’ve started blogging at North Park Street.

Yes, indeed it is a busy time.

Yet as I write this and procrastinate on writing my final 40ish page research paper, I wonder: what does the future of The Campus First look like?  NPS allows me the ability to write about whatever I want, not necessarily about the campus.  But there will always be a special place in my heart for TCF.  It started on blogspot when I was SSFC Chair, grew into a wordpress page, and gained an author, all while trying to convey ideas and thoughts on ASM and the campus.

I’ve thought about keeping TCF as a place for Adam and I to discuss in depth campus things, almost like a policy wonk blog, not really for general readership.  I’ve also considered using it as almost a clipsheet style page, taking news bits weekly and creating a forum to discuss them.  And I’m sure Adam has many of his own ideas.

But what do you guys think?  Any and all ideas are greatly appreciated.



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.


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.


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…

New Badger Partnership: Governor to Release Budget as Support for NBP Grows

Well, this is it.  Today at 4 pm CT, Governor Walker is expected to release his 2011-13 Biennium Budget, which could include many of the provisions that Chancellor Martin has advocated for in the New Badger Partnership.  This according to WisPolitics:

The UW System is looking at a cut of about $250 million with UW-Madison taking the biggest hit of the campuses. To help offset that reduced aid, Madison would be spun off from the rest of the system into an independent authority, according to sources.

This is nothing new.  I projected a $250 million cut to the UW System last week.

Support for the NBP is growing, too.

Badger Herald ed board:

As University of Wisconsin Chancellor Biddy Martin watched this state’s government face deeper and deeper financial woes with the approach of the 2011-2013 budget, she could have sat back and asked the Legislature to consider the university’s own difficult financial situation.

She could have asked for less cuts, for provisions that would keep tuition low and financial aid flowing. She could have asked for the now-modest framework laid out in the original New Badger Partnership last fall.

But as budget details began to emerge and the state’s cost-cutting measures spurred a crisis of national importance, something became clear: Now is the time to ask for everything UW needs, and to package that request in a way the state cannot ignore.

The result, tentatively laid out in draft documents, letters and conversations, is a proposal that would give UW public authority status and significantly greater freedom from state oversight. The details currently backed by Martin would separate the university from the UW System, allocate most state funding in a single block grant and allow an independent governing board to set university policy and tuition rates.

Badger Herald LTE on Biddy, “the true champion of transparency”:

On the opposite end of the spectrum has been Martin. She has spent hours on Twitter responding directly to the concerns raised by students who are trying to understand the implications of this new direction. When a memo between Martin and Walker showed the chancellor supporting Madison spinning off from the entire system, she was quick to provide details to the student body about her position. In a recent e-mail, Martin provided her presentation to the Board of Regents. In the e-mail, she made it clear the question of whether or not Madison should separate from the entire system “is not the question that has guided our work.” Instead Martin made it clear that she and the university are doing the best they can to “create innovative possibilities” to “deal with the extreme challenges” that face all of us — students, faculty and staff.

Several Research Professors in a Daily Cardinal LTE:

Even in difficult budgetary times, the state can continue to invest in its flagship university by providing the types of flexibilities sought by Chancellor Martin. We seek your enthusiasm and support for the major impact this initiative will embody, and encourage the Governor, the Legislature and UW System to help us realize the goals of the New Badger Partnership, for the benefit of our students and Wisconsin.

And then of course, we have our very own Adam Johnson.

Stay tuned to the Campus First as we explore the budget bill in depth.


Sam Polstein–ASM MVP?

I was once asked by a student newspaper reporter if Sam Polstein, current ASM Legislative Affairs Chair, was the unequivocal MVP for the 17th Session of ASM.  While I contend that ASM is only as strong as its weakest link, there is no question that Sam has shown an amazing amount of leadership and dedication to the student cause.

His latest efforts include protecting the student vote:

If S.B.6 is allowed to become law in its current form, it will undoubtedly disenfranchise Wisconsin students. In the fall 2010 election, Wisconsin had one of the highest student voter turnouts in the country. This bill would put an unwarranted burden on Wisconsin student voters, and turnout is unlikely to be as impressively high in future elections.

This is shocking, disheartening, and unnecessary to prevent the almost non-existent fraud in Wisconsin elections. Our government should be encouraging students to engage in the civic process.

Even though you’re not a Packer fan, Sam, go ahead and put on the belt.

(Thanks to University and State for pointing this out.)

The Beauty of Peaceful Protest

From the Madison City Police Department:

On behalf of all the law enforcement agencies that helped keep the peace on the Capitol Square Saturday, a very sincere thank you to all of those who showed up to exercise their First Amendment rights. You conducted yourselves with great decorum and civility, and if the eyes of the nation were upon Wisconsin, then you have shown how democracy can flourish even amongst those who passionately disagree. As of 5:00 p.m., no major incidents had been reported. There have been no arrests. However, discourse and discussion was – at times – loud and heated. That was to be expected. As previously indicated, the goal of law enforcement has been to provide a safe environment for democracy to take place. That goal has been realized for yet another day.

Go us.  The true beauty of democratic protest can’t be realized unless they are peaceful.  As I’ve said many times, the first group to become violent loses; let’s not be the losers.

Updated: Rage Against the Machine to Head to Madison?

Rage Against the Machine, the popular rap rock group that gained success throughout the nineties, may come to Madison to help support the protests at the capitol.  This is, as I understand it, unconfirmed, although twitter has been exploding about it.  This according to the following tweets:

@DefendWisconsin “Concert for Rights” Mon 5PM: Tom Morello, The Nightwatchmen, Rage against the Machine, Wayne Kramer, The Street Dogs.

@thesconz rage against the machine coming to paly in support#wiunion

@dailycardinal Rage Against the Machine and Ben Harper to perform Monday at 5 p.m. (via @UCSEC#wiunion

I’m waiting for an official news source to confirm, since the Rage website hasn’t been updated in months.  Given their activist roots, their presence would not surprise me.

Updated 2/19 @ 2:10 pm: It appears that it will not be Rage Against the Machine, but it will be Tom Morello.  Morello is the lead guitarist for RATM and also has his own acoustic band, the Nightwatchmen.  I will try to keep you update.

Press release available here.