Gov. Scott Walker’s Feb. 7 state budget proposal will allow students to choose not to pay segregated university fees, a decision that may end the athletics program on campus and hamper other services at UW-Fox Valley.
The UW System defines seg. fees as “charges, in addition to instructional fees, assessed to all students for student services, activities, programs and facilities that support the mission of the University of Wisconsin System institutions.”
UW-Fox’s Student Government is responsible for allocating these seg. fee dollars of approximately $280,000 to campus clubs and organizations annually. Each student currently pays $142 towards seg. fees as part of their tuition.
This includes everything from athletics, student activities, drama production, fine arts, mental health services, and partly tutoring services on campus.
“Allocable” seg. fees are the ones that are up for discussion in the 2018–19 state budget proposal. According to the proposal, students will still have to pay for non-allocable fees such as “long-term commitments or ongoing operational costs of university owned and controlled buildings.”
While some services may have separate funding, others have less funding or none at all. Programs like athletics that have greater reliance on seg. fees are more at risk of being canceled due to low seg. fee payment rates.
Student Government is concerned that many students on campus are not aware of the many campus resources that seg. fees help fund and they therefore would choose to opt out without fully realizing the many campus resources seg. fees fund.
“I can only speak for myself here, but I believe overall as a body, we all are against the seg. fee opt out,” Dominicka Lewicki, Student Government treasurer, said. “What people do not realize is that seg. fees go towards more than just clubs and activities, they also go for things like tutoring services and mental health. If they were made optional, the fear is that students wouldn’t know where they go, so they would opt out.”
Not only would this hurt the students that play sports, but it would also impact the students that utilize the resources we have at our campus like the learning resource center and the math labs.
“This potentially means that all the clubs and activities, tutoring services and athletics would be defunded [by seg. fees], or at least substantially defunded, and then those clubs, services and activities could potentially not exist,” Lewicki said.
During weekly meetings, Student Government discusses what would happen to the clubs if seg. fees were to be made optional.
Student Senator Alec Smith said this would make it difficult for Student Government to add funds. As preference would have to be given to larger clubs, smaller organizations would find greater difficulty getting support.
“While it would benefit the students [economically], it puts the Student Government in a tough place,” Smith said. “It would have an impact on all clubs and activities, especially the smaller ones who already receive little funding.”
They discussed that if seg. fees were to be made optional that it would kill the athletic organization at UW-Fox, and it would be hard to keep running all the tutoring labs and keeping the Learning Resource Center open without making cuts to their funding.
Derek Birling, a freshman, said students should pay for the services they directly use or that benefit them.
“I [feel] that it should be a requirement since you should have to pay to play. If the money is not funded through things such as seg. fees, it would definitely be a hard time keeping all the clubs and activities running,” Birling said.