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Live Blog: Badger Partnership Forum

March 29, 2011

To inform students of the implications of the New Badger Partnership, ASM members are presenting information in room 6203 of Social Sciences. They will focus particularly on Chapter 37, which gives UW-Madison students the right to shared governance. Shared governance committees with student representatives make decisions across campus on issues like diversity, safety and academics.

Download the Powerpoint Presentation here.

6:05 p.m.

Sarah Neibart: This will be purely information. If you have questions, we can try to answer them at the end.

Sam Seering: I am the vice chairman for state affairs for the legislative affairs committee in ASM. I’m going to give you an overview of Chapter 37 as it currently stands. Shared governance is currently in statute as 36.09.5. It is now copied verbatim into the new 37.03, “so shared governance is fully kept in the new model of UW-Madison as a public authority.”

Chapter 37 takes away the connection between reduction in state funding and tuition increases. From what I’ve heard, the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates will continue at least through next year.

The Board of Trustees, which sets tuition, will have 21 members as follows:

  • 11 appointed by the governor (7 must be alumni, 1 Board of Regent member, 1 member of the agriculture industry, 9 at-large)
  • 2 appointed by faculty
  • 1 appointed by non-faculty staff
  • 1 appointed by students
  • 2 appointed by WAA
  • 2 appointed by WARF
  • 2 appointed by UW-Foundation.

Chapter 37 also creates a new personnel system. It must be separate and distinct from the current system under Chapter 230 of state statute.

Student discrimination policy is basically copied from the current discrimination policy.

Chapter 37 provides funding for programs to recruit and retain minority and disadvantaged students.

The statute says the Board of Trustees shall provide tuition remission under the same standards as are currently in place.

An accountability report must be prepared every biennium by the board of trustees, looking at services provided and how the finances of the university are working.

Another very good provision is the ability to participate in purchasing consortiums, like the big ten purchasing consortium.

All employees will no longer be considered state employees, but university employees. But the employees would still participate in state pension and health care plans.

Funding for the university will be decreased by 13%.

That’s my overview. Now I’ll open it to questions.

  • Brigham Schmuhl: How are alumni defined on the board of trustees?
  • Seering: My understanding is they have to have graduated from UW-Madison.
  • Brigham Schmuhl: Is there a way to amend Chapter 37 or strengthen shared governance?
  • Melissa Hanley: I would say the best way to go about strengthening it would be to work through the board of trustees, rather than trying to go through the whole legislative process. I think we’ll have more access to the board.
  • Brigham Schmuhl: Would faculty be able to use collective bargaining on their health care and pensions?
  • Seering: I don’t know the complete answer to that, but I know that they will be able to bargain over wages.
  • Student: We hear concerns about UW-Madison being separated from the other UW campuses. Public authority is a really ambiguous term, but now that I’ve read more about the plan for public authority, I question why we don’t propose public authority status for the entire UW System.
  • Seering: We’ve never heard an explanation about why they’re not looking into public authority status for the rest of the system. The Wisconsin Idea Partnership is arguing for flexibility for the entire UW System. I don’t think Walker has taken a stance on this at this point because he talks about flexibilities for individual universities.
  • Neibart: Have other institutions asked for public authority status?
  • Seering: Other university have asked for flexibilities that the New Badger Partnership provides, but they haven’t asked for public authority status. The UW System will be presenting their budget to Joint Finance Committee this Thursday. I would definitely expect a discussion of the Wisconsin Idea Partnership verses the Badger Partnership at that meeting.
  • Student: Is there any concern in ASM leadership about moving forward with Chapter 37 in this political climate, and this creating a bigger problem for UW-Madison? Has ASM endorsed the New Badger Partnership?
  • Williams: There are definitely concerns, and we’re trying to address what we can in terms of the statutory language. ASM has not taken a stance on it, but we did put out a series of principles that we have mostly seen carried through. We had included something about collective bargaining that was done in a different manner, but there’s the possibility of establishing those.
  • Brigham Schmuhl: How do we know the 7 alumni on the board will do a good job? There are at least seven assholes that graduate from here every year. What oversight is there?
  • Seering: They all have term limits. Initially, some are appointed for a year, some for two years on staggered terms.
  • Ellen Leedle: Give me the worst case scenario.
  • Seering: The university doesn’t turn on a dime. We won’t all the sudden stop and change directions to something else. There will be a process to go through. The Board will probably review every system policy, which could take two years.
  • Hanley: Worst case scenario could come in a number of facets. There’s a lot of detail involved in Chapter 37 and a lot of things that could go wrong. We’re no longer officially part of system. Could we technically see all our agreements with other universities wiped out? We could, but that’s not likely to happen. Administrators are reviewing all of these now, so if there are certain things that we need to see protected, we need to take those to administrators now. And I think ASM is the body to do it. “If students have concerns, they should bring those to us now. I don’t think we’re going to see a disaster of epic proportions, but if we don’t watch what’s happening things could get lost in the mess of it all.”
  • Leedle: The feasibility of transfer between campuses is getting progressively more difficult. Even if the transfer policy is there in writing, in practice it’s not. They would probably lose credits and have to stay more time. The language is there; the practice is not.
  • Erik Paulson: The transfer policy is already a UW policy, not a system policy, so that probably wouldn’t be any different.
  • Neibart: Something else to note: Everything that was primarily on UW property or UW owned are our property. All the paperwork is being transferred, and people have been working very hard on that.
  • Leedle: I see the NBP as yes, we’re going to get all these new flexibilities. Look over here while we do shady things over here. How do you think the current regent policy is outdated and how easy is it to change it?
  • Seering: Some regent policy is recent, but some of it is since the beginning of system. There is stuff to review. Changing regent policies is a matter of going through the committee work, having it proposed at a full meeting and having them vote on it.
  • Student: Do we have a tuition cap?
  • Seering: The way the board of regents sets tuition is by analyzing the cost to continue, seeing how much the state funding, and then using the difference as the amount that tuition can be increased. Differential increases are extra, and must be voted on. So there is that cap based on cost to continue, but that cap is removed under Chapter 37.
  • Student: I’m out-of-state. UW-Madison has to admit a certain amount of in-state students, right?
  • Seering: Yes, 75% with an exemption for Minnesota students.
  • Student: How urgent is this? When do they want to push Chapter 37? What’s the timeline?
  • Seering: The timeline of the NBP is now linked to the state budget. Thursday UW System presents their budget. UW-Madison’s budget will be proposed at the same time. The next two weeks are public hearings across the state. After that, Joint Finance begins to go through the 1600-page document line by line to analyze the budget. It’s going to be quite a process, but I’m hearing that the budget will be passed before July 1. The enactment of Chapter 37 is slated for July 1, and the board would be enacted then.
  • Paulson: How will we appoint that student? What will we do on July 1?
  • Williams: There’s been a lot of talk– elections, appointments, maybe a position within ASM. We don’t know how to do that yet.
  • Johnson: We might have the chair of ASM serve in that position until someone can be elected for that position because it would be really difficult to do an election or appointment process over the summer. We could develop a system for choosing someone over the summer while someone is sitting in the interim position, and then be ready to go in September.
  • Neibart: What I’m thinking is this position should be elected by students. This person will be representing students on this campus. Of course we don’t have the biggest turnout on elections and that’s a problem because students should have a say. Until we can do that outreach I’m not sure if appointing them through elections will be the best thing, but in my mind it’s the most idealistic.
  • Johnson: At other schools that do a popularly elected president, candidates usually spend thousands of dollars on their own campaign. That definitely prices people out. I’m not sure if we want those conditions on our campus for this.
  • Hanley: There are so many counterpoints to every argument. It seems like it will be an amalgamation of a lot of things. It’s not going to be perfect starting out, but I think the important part is we’ll have the ability to change it as we go. ASM is considered the shared governance unit of students, so ASM can change the policy for appointing the member.
  • Student: If some rich greek kid did get the post, it wouldn’t be all that different than American politics anyway. I have a proposal for you. Have you seen Mad Max and the Thunderdome? We could erect a Thunderdome and possible candidates could rage it out in the Thunderdome.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact your representatives!

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