Letter to the Editor

By: Ally Chard

Gov. Scott Walker’s recent budget proposal states UW System students would be allowed to opt out of the allocable portion of segregated fees but fails to address who will compensate for this major gap in funding. In order to keep the same incentives available to students at the university level, the money deficit should be resolved through private donations and alumni funding.

Every university student is required to pay a sum of money known as segregated fees. These fees are divided into two categories: allocable and non-allocable. Non-allocable fees fund long term projects, the maintenance of buildings and ongoing operating costs. Allocable fees fund the student clubs and organizations on campus.

In recent weeks, Walker’s initiative to reduce the allocated portion of segregated fees has gone viral, sweeping across multiple student-governing bodies and reaching the ears of every UW System school.

The most effective way to confront the shortage of funds that will arise from optional allocated fees is to seek donations from alumni and private contributors; each donor will be able to choose what club or organization their money helps fund. The motivating factor is donors are more likely to contribute large sums of money when they have a say in what their money is supporting. For example, a UW Oshkosh alumnus may feel a special tie to the PRSSA club on campus because they majored in public relations. Their decision to donate is linked to the expectation that their contribution goes directly towards funding the PRSSA club. Similarly, the students that choose to pay the allocable portion of segregated fees will have the same say in their money distribution as donors; they will be able to choose which organizations their money supports. In essence, it would be the responsibility of each individual club and organization to compensate for the shortage of funds. Clubs that could not find proper funding through donations and grants would go unfunded for the year. Allowing students to have a direct say in where their money goes ensures funding is given to the clubs and organizations on campus that students use and value most.

For the 2016-17 school year, the Allocable Segregated Fees Committee at UWO funded over 120 clubs and organizations. With this in mind, the only plausible solution that keeps the University at its same level of prestige is to devise a plan to compensate for the funds that will be lost. At UWO, the active network of alumni will help make the needed funds possible along with area donations.

If nothing is done to rebuild the funds lacking from opting out of allocable fees, the result will be devastating. In general, there will be less opportunities at the university level and fewer incentives to spend the money required to attend a four-year college. Students that attend a university come expecting opportunities beyond a quality education. They want residence halls, intercollegiate athletics, intramurals, clubs and organizations, tutoring, guest speakers, internships, career coaching and the lists goes on. A family’s willingness to pay the steep price of tuition is driven by the expectation their son or daughter will have access to these amenities.

Although Walker’s proposal focuses largely on reducing charges accumulated by students, it comes at a cost. Allowing students to choose whether or not they pay allocable segregated fees puts every club and organization on campus in jeopardy; a lack of proper funding will result in the minimization of the number of organizations students can participate in. If Walker’s proposal goes into effect, a clear outline of how that money will be recuperated for UW System clubs and organizations must be explained. Without a proper plan in place, student enrichment in areas outside of academics will be at an all-time high risk of extinction.