SUFAC Chair Thomas Lidholm at the open forum. – Photo by Elle McMahon
By Felicity Bosk
The forum, which was held on February 21, was led by Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee (SUFAC) Chair Thomas Lidholm. At the front table ready to answer any questions from the 20 students in attendance were Student Involvement Director Alison Garver, Dean of Students Harry Anderson, Budget Office Administrator Jeff Kahler, and Student Organizations Manager Ana Reyes.
The part of the Governor’s budget, Assembly Bill 64, states:
“This bill makes payment by students of allocable segregated fees at UW schools optional. The bill defines “allocable segregated fees” as segregated fees that provide substantial support for campus student activities and that students are responsible for allocating, in consultation with the school’s chancellor and subject to confirmation of the Board of Regents.”
Students at UW-Superior pay part of their tuition every semester for segregated fees. Segregates fees can be broken into two categories: non allocable and allocable. This year, students paid $115 in allocable fees. This money goes towards Student Organizations, Student Involvement, Student Government, the rifle range, University Video Production.
“Any chance students have to save money, they’re going to take,” said Lidholm. “I know I’m more than happy to pay the $115 for these things.”
Lidholm took a moment to ask if anyone in attendance would have continued to study at UWS after one or two years had they not gotten involved on campus. Nobody raised their hand.
One person asked what UWS students could do to keep Assembly Bill 64 from passing.
“Make yourself heard,” Lidholm answered. “If the students come forward and say “No, we want this, this is helping our campus grow”, that’s the message you need to spread. Send emails, make phone calls, try to talk to these people, explain what [student involvement] means to you. Be emotional, have your facts straight, and be prepared.”
Assembly Bill 64 would allow students to either opt-out, or opt-in of paying this fee and supporting these pieces of campus life. As Anderson stated, the details of how Assembly Bill 64 would be applied are unclear, and that implementing this new option could be expensive and complicated. “Significant is the only thing I can say at this time,” said Anderson.
Lidholm spoke about how this issue is effecting bigger institutors like UW-Madison, where they have over 1000 student organizations.
“Their allocable fees cover their bus fees, which 70 percent of students use to ride the bus,” said Lidholm.
“Even if we’re a small campus, a few students can be heard. Right now we have the opportunity to say something. In six months it won’t mean anything anymore,” said Lidholm at the end of the forum. “Just think of what this campus could be after we have already graduated and moved on.”