Senate opposes United Council fees
November 10, 2010
Being forced to pay for politics is one of several reasons why Student Senate President Leigh Monson is not happy with the new UW Student Representatives Constitution and is taking steps to keep it from passing.
Every UW student will have to pay $3 every semester and summer session to the United Council, according to the constitution under the Mandatory Refundable Fee clause. Students do have the option to ask for a refund, but their request must be submitted within 45 days of the first day of classes.
“I could understand a fee if a school is a member of United Council, but UWRF has voted against being a member of United Council for several years,” Monson said.
United Council is a non-partisan, non-profit, student-directed organization committed to enhancing the quality of student life and protecting access to higher education in Wisconsin. United Council’s mission is to represent all students of the UW-System and advocate for them on issues of higher education pertaining to value, quality and student experience, according to the United Council of UW Students website.
The last time UW-River Falls students were given the opportunity to vote on joining United Council was in spring 2009. The students voted “no” just like they had in the two previous polls regarding United Council. UWRF students have voted “no” with an increasing margin of “no” votes every time, according to Senate Chair Tyler Halverson.
Halverson is not a fan of being forced to pay a fee and have UWRF become a member of United Council if this constitution passes.
“United Council is practically making us join by requiring the MRF. United Council is ineffective and not worth the students’ money,” Halverson said.
The refundable part is also misleading, said Halverson.
“Yes there is the option for students to get their money back, but the website is a mess; the contact information is not there,” Halverson said. “The time limit to inform all the students about how to get their money back is infeasible.”
Monson is also not happy with the voting clause in the new constitution. The constitution states that voting can be handled in only two ways: weighted or institutional.
Weighted voting means that the votes are multiplied by the number of students enrolled at a school. Monson does not like this because it automatically gives the larger schools more power. Institutional voting means that four-year institutions get two votes while two-year institutions only get one vote. Monson said that this system is not fair because there is no way the two-year institutions will get a shot at getting anything passed.
Lastly, Monson is not supportive of the Adoption and Amendment clause of the constitution. This clause says that the constitution will be adopted after two-thirds of all campus governments ratify it. This means that all schools will be absorbed into the new constitution, whether they like it or not, said Monson.
“This means that UWRF would have to become a member of United Council and pay its fee, even though UWRF has voted ‘no’ repeatedly,” Monson said.
“This constitution assumes that United Council is equally beneficial to all schools, but there is no evidence to suggest that,” Halverson said.
The other Senate members were generally disapproving of this constitution. There was no debate against Monson at the Nov. 2 meeting, said Monson.
The new UW Student Representation Constitution will not replace the UWRF Senate constitution.
“The purpose of the Student Reps Constitution is to act as an oversight committee to United Council’s operations and funding, not replace the governmental structures of each school,” Monson said in an e-mail.
United Council Public Relations Spokesperson Michael Moscicke said this new constitution is a positive thing.
“[This constitution] gives ability for student governments to review the work of United Council and be more involved in it. This will provide more stability from year to year and provide a closer connection to the UW System. It will also provide more stable funding for the organization,” Mossicke said in a phone interview.
Monson’s strategy now is to team up with other schools like Fox Valley, Waukesha and UW-Whitewater to form a strategy and lobby against the Board of Regents before January so that the constitution does not pass. Monson has no intention of giving up.
“This is a tall order or a long shot, whatever you want to call it, but we are still going to try to fight it.”