Monday, September 19, 2005

Mendota Beacon Article with further analysis

Here is my article from the latest Mendota Beacon (http://www.mendotabeacon.com). It is fairly similar to the previous posting “Who will I Serve? The Students” but it has been altered and edited. I wrote the op-ed because of a request from the staff. The following article also has the comments from the website (2 by possible someone on our committee and one by me in response the first posting). I will then address the second comment and will make further remarks.

SEG Fees On the Rise

A need to serve the students with fiscal responsibility

by Tim Schulz

September 13, 2005

In the middle of your first calculus problem set, it suddenly hits you. The University of Wisconsin fall semester has begun. But classes and homework are not the only things that have started. Associated Students of Madison (ASM), “your student government,” has also begun doling out part of your tuition.

As you begin to scavenge for money to pay your tuition bill, realize that $331 or nearly 10% of your mandatory payment to UW-Madison goes toward Student Segregated Fees (SEG fees) each semester. At $662 a year, SEG fees have increased even faster than the normal part of tuition (8.9% versus 6.9%). While the average UW Joe may not be a part of any student organizations or his/her student organizations may not get any SEG fee funds, SEG fees are not optional due to the 1999 Supreme Court decision Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System vs. Southworth. Students’ real power, then, is to elect Student Service Finance Committee members and ASM representatives that share their financial and political views.

Essentially, the goal for SSFC is to allocate student fee portion of tuition in a fiscally responsible manner to groups that meet certain standards. Yet, the committee is fairly divided in terms of what this means. For certain members of the group, SSFC is a committee to help and support organizations in promoting social justice and educational issues on campus. For other members, SSFC is a committee where finite student tuition money needs to be used efficiently and accountably to serve not only the major student organizations but the entire student body.

Within ASM, the Student Services Finance Committee allocates about $100 of each student’s fees, while Finance Committee allocates a much smaller portion. Last week, SSFC began hearings on eligibility for what will probably be 20 to 25 student services groups receiving funding this upcoming fiscal year. Total funding may approach 3.5 million dollars.

The beneficiaries of SSFC funds include diversity (Multicultural Student Coalition, MECha), women (PAVE, Campus Women’s Center), and other educational groups such as Greater University Tutorial Services (GUTS) and Legal Information Center. Last year SSFC went over budget considerably, helping lead to the increase in SEG fees. You would think that ASM student representatives and appointees on SSFC would try to control spending in a responsible manner in the hopes of curbing tuition increases. Recent history and the current composition of the committee make this hope dubious.

Clear financial ideological differences exist between committee members. While I will stand tall in serving the students and their interests with fiscal prudence and efficiency, attitudes and conversation amongst committee members indicates others will not.

As an SSFC member I can promise you that:

1. Elected by the students last spring, my main priority is to serve their interests rather than specific groups. Observe the name: “Student Service Finance Committee”.

2. In my view, this money is not anybody else’s money but the students’. This money has not been entrusted to a handful of groups to allocate amongst themselves. Neither should it be entrusted to SSFC Committee Members who are members of these groups or are beholden to the interests of these groups.

3. My job is not to meet with organizations and tell them how to use their money. My job rather is to look at their budget and make changes and cuts so tuition money is used wisely and effectively.

Feel free to contact any SSFC members with questions or concerns. Also voice your opinion for responsible SEG fee allocation by speaking at open forum during meetings on Monday and Thursday 6:30 Memorial Union TITU.

--Tim Schulz, Elected SSFC Member

Tim, its pretty obvious to us all what your true intentions on SSFC are, which is defund groups that don't share your political ideologies. You may try to cover that up by calling yourself a libertarian but we see through it. Its no wonder why the only 4 people to vote against the LGBTCC were the 4 most conservative members of the committee. Yet I bet that when groups like CFACT come to you with their budgets you and the other conservative members will no doubt take less scrunity then you do with other organizations. The simple truth of the matter is that groups like CFACT offer nothing for this campus in terms of services they provide, Just take a look at their end of the year reports from the last few years they will tell you themselves that they do no do nothing compared to the amount of services other groups provide, yet they are continued to be funded because of conservative people like you. If you really want to save students money then you will not offer groups that do nothing to provide for students on campus and use VPN when allocating funds to the other organizations that you dont support in your own views but who actually provide tangable services to the UW community.

We see through you

The reason I voted against LBGTCC was not because I disagree with their views or ideology. Their application clearly states at many points that the center is for "LBGT students and their allies". This statement in my view is breaking criteria #3 of the 13 criteria. My main objection to both LBGTCC, the Women's Center, etc. is that their central purposes are to provide a so called "safe zone" for students on campus. These so called "safe zones" are unnecessary and a misuse of our tuition money Why do people need to hide their views and their real self….especially at the expense of students’ money? Aren't students at University of Madison supposed to be open and tolerant, sifting and winnowing to find the truth. No persecuted group whether it be gender, racial, sexual, or religious needs to have a "safe zone" at the expense of the students.
When I wrote an op-ed last spring I was accused of being a tool for C-FACT. I will be as objective as I am with any other organization that asks us for money. In fact, my environmental ideology even does clash with C-FACT's. So do not make me out to being a pawn of this conservative group.
I do support groups that actually provide tangable services to the UW community. This is why I feel these central groups like LBGTCC and Women's Center should be funded less while groups like 10% Society and PAVE deserve a larger share of funding (even though I know that 10% Society is not even a GSSF group).
My central objective is to hold these groups accountable and make sure that we do not go over budget for this year.

Tim Schulz

I understand where you may be coming from, having a problem with the LGBTCC stating that their services are open to LGBT students and their allies, but if what you are saying is true about Madison being a tolerent, open campus where people don't have to face discrimination is true then infact everyone would be considered an Ally right? but the fact is that no matter how open we see this campus to be, LGBT students are still subject to discrimination. But really thats besides the point. The point is that when considering whether or not you think that safe zones are necassary you are taking into account the View Point of the organization, which in doing so you are violating VPN. And my advice being to watch what you say at the table so as to not get caught and have it called on you again this Thursday when debating the CWC eligibility. People will be watching and there are plenty of people that would like to see you removed from council, but that would be a tragedy to us because the girls in the room need some eye candy.

We see through you

I want to first address the following comment:

if what you are saying is true about Madison being a tolerent, open campus where people don't have to face discrimination is true then infact everyone would be considered an ally right?”

I do not understand how tolerance of a certain group or opinion is synonymous with being allied with this group or opinion? The definition of tolerance on dictionary.com reads :

“The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others.”

The definition of ally according to dictionary.com is either

To place in a friendly association, as by treaty” or “To unite or connect in a personal relationship”.

While I believe people in Madison will truly listen and respect that specific groups have different views and lifestyles from them, they often will not affiliate themselves, associate themselves or stand for the beliefs of these groups. This is fine. Would you expect NARAL activist to associate themselves with the Life Society in protesting Planned Parenthood? Would you expect the International Socialist Organization to affiliate themselves with the College Republicans? Obviously not. But we should expect tolerance and openness even in disagreement.

Second, I am accused of violating VPN for disagreeing with funding “safe zones” or unnecessary campus centers. How is this a violation of VPN? I clearly have nothing against the particular views of any specific organizations but rather find funding organizations that’s main purpose for existing is to provide a social area. Providing social outlets and entertainment events should not be what our student government and student’s money are about. Our financial resources should be about providing educational channels through which students will continue to challenge their belief systems and advance their knowledge outside the classroom. We also need to fund resources that are critical but are not easily funded privately (legal information center, rape crisis center, etc.). Many people on our committee though feel that our money is best spent on social justice activities, entertainment activities, and student salaries. I do not. I will clearly be viewpoint neutral but ultimately on funding decisions value judgments are inevitable.

Third, I want to address the following statement:

Tim, its pretty obvious to us all what your true intentions on SSFC are, which is defund groups that don't share your political ideologies. You may try to cover that up by calling yourself a libertarian but we see through it.

Attacking my political beliefs was the first mode of discrediting me and my article. If I was true libertarian, I would clearly believe that Associated of Students of Madison was unnecessary and that students instead of paying SEG fees should fund their own health care (through UHS), recreation (UW Rec Sports), and every other group they are in. Libertarianism believes that government’s role is only to provide vital public goods (road/utilities, national defense, tort system, etc) and even education should be privatized. Now I am obviously not that extreme and believe that the student body collectively helping to foot the bill for some student groups on campus is in the interest of students. Defining libertarianism aside, I am going to look at your criticism from 2 possibly different lenses. The first possible lense is that I am lying by listing myself as libertarian on Facebook and that I believe in all Republican causes along with being a part of the right wing conspiracy. I reject this notion because there are many ideological differences that separate me from the Republican Party as a whole (stem cell research, death penalty, big government spending (ie Bush), hawkish military policy, civil unions, etc.). I do not need to list anymore issues. The second possible lense is that I am not truly libertarian since I voted against LBGTCC. This would imply that I am against the LBGT movement and that I do not like homosexuals or their allies. This notion is also false because I do believe in equal rights for gays through civil unions and am not a homophobic bigot. What I disagree with is funding organizations that are based on safe zones and a social meeting place.


  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home