The Oshkosh Student Association has proposed three big changes for UW Oshkosh, including having designated smoking areas, decoupling interim and changing the University’s food service.
While having designated smoking areas is nice in theory, in practice they really won’t change much because it would be difficult to enforce people to consistently use those areas.
We have noticed a lot of the smoking that goes on around campus is during passing times while students and faculty are traveling between buildings. We doubt many students or staff would be willing to go out of their way to a designated area when they only have ten minutes.
UWO senior Donald Bantle said it would be best for the University to have designated smoking areas, mainly for the benefit of nonsmokers.
“We are one of few UW schools that allow it on campus, and I think it would be best to have designated areas for those who don’t want to be ingesting smoke from others,” Bantle said. “It won’t affect students who smoke because there will be designated areas. I think it’s a bigger issue to those who don’t smoke because they choose not to smoke but have to inhale it secondhand.”
OSA president Jared Schadrie said having designated areas would not only benefit nonsmokers, but would help keep down littering from cigarette butts.
“It’s just I want to make sure that students who live in the residence halls are safe if they go out at night to [have] a smoke, and that they don’t go across the road where we have no regulation and then throw out their cigarette butt,” Schadrie said. “We want to make sure that we have an area that they can go to, [where] people don’t have to walk through peoples’ smoke when they are going between classes and give them an area to stay more sustainable instead of taking out all our cigarette butt holders, which would most likely happen if we went full tobacco free and having that all be littered instead.”
Wanting to keep down the amount of litter caused by smoking is a nice thought; however, the areas aren’t likely to actually work, especially considering right now no one is supposed to smoke within 15 feet of building entrances, yet people do it all the time when it’s cold, raining or they just stepped out for a quick smoke break.
Perhaps decoupling will benefit part-time students, but overall it discourages full-time students from taking interim classes and takes away an additional incentive to attend UWO. With interim included, students are able to spread out their 18 credit semesters without feeling overloaded and stressed.
UWO senior Cambria Garvelink said she thinks it makes sense to decouple interim from the semester for those who don’t take interim classes.
“[Decoupling] kind of makes sense actually, so if you aren’t taking interim you shouldn’t have to pay for it and you’ll have an overall cheaper tuition,” Garvelink said. “It would be annoying to have to pay extra though when school is already expensive.”
It’s true that having to pay for something you don’t use is unfair, but the decoupling of interim will likely cause a decrease in the number of students who actually use it. And with the way things have been going, if student participation decreases, the programs offered over interim would likely just be canceled.
Bantle said he’s not sure how to feel about splitting interim from the regular semester because it’s a benefit to students but the University isn’t in the right place to keep it coupled.
“I’m kind of torn. I have benefitted from interim, but with the state of our University I think removing it would be best,” Bantle said. “I don’t think the per-credit tuition should be a thing because a lot of students are at different needs every semester and may need to add and drop courses. That allowance is very beneficial for students.”
Schadrie agreed the University will be able to save money by decoupling interim even though it is a great benefit for students.
“So if they do still take the interim and paid by per credit like they do for the summer we could save a lot more money, but we don’t know how many people are going to drop,” Schadrie said. “Most institutions, that’s more of like an extra area, but we’ve kind of integrated over the years so it’s kind of a normal part of the semester, so students are really kind of used to it. I always used the January interim; I thought it was really great. It’s just something that I don’t know if we’re going to continue to afford while saving our programs.”
It may be a great way to decrease the amount the University is spending each year, but it could affect how many students are able to graduate in four years. Plus, while other UW universities don’t include interim in their semester costs, some of them offer other perks La Crosse for example includes textbook rentals for students within their fees.
While many students dislike Sodexo’s food on campus and going independent sounds wonderful in theory, it’s rather risky for UWO in practice. There may not be enough student workers to fill all the necessary positions and meal costs could increase, which no one wants.
Schadrie said while it’s easier for UWO to just sign with another company or re-sign with Sodexo, it doesn’t allow for many changes to be made by students for what they want out of their food service.
“I think it’s definitely easier for our campus or University to just bid out,” Schadrie said. “You know, our administration doesn’t have to worry about liability, making sure that they hire enough people. What I really advocate for though is, I don’t care if it is a little bit tougher to organize, there’s a lot of universities and testimonials from people where if you go to self-operation you can make changes a lot easier.”
With the 50 percent cut of Student Titan Employment Program, increased food service jobs would be a benefit to students, but we worry many students are not interested in working in the food service.
“So in the [STEP], according to some of the numbers I saw, it employs 486 students on our campus, and we’re cutting that in half,” Schadrie said. “Being that number of student employees that we need for dining when they were first looking at estimates was between 100 and 200, and we’re losing probably over 200 campus jobs. I think we’ll easily be able to take some of those jobs and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute we still have opportunities here;’ and in those opportunities currently through Sodexo you can only get so high before you’re cut off because they are unionized, so after that it might be union work. If we were to go in house, we can set it up where, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe we can give more opportunities to students to excel and actually gain more skills in management, logistics or whatever it may be, and actually grow from a lot of that experience instead.’”
Overall, we understand the University is working to make changes in order to benefit the school as a whole. However, the effects they may have on students may override the positives the school would experience.