Regents approve tuition raise

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By Kimberly Wethal

April 13, 2016

 

There’s plenty of differences between college tuition hikes and a campus climate task force, but at the most recent UW System Board of Regents meeting, one of those differences became the length of discussion.

The Regents spent a considerable amount of time near the end of their meeting at UW-Green Bay last week Friday listening to students talk about their experiences with hate and bias on campuses, but gave no discussion on raising nonresident and graduate student tuition before voting on it.

The Regents unanimously approved the tuition raise proposals for nonresident and graduate students at UW-Whitewater, UW-La Crosse, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Platteville and UW-Stout, after the Business and Finance committee had previously done so.

A student panel was invited to attend the Regent’s meeting to inform the Regents on current campus climate situations on campuses where they’ve proved to be an issue. The panel included representatives from UW-W, UW-Green Bay, UW-Madison, UW-Parkside and UW-Stout.

A task force of students, chancellors and Regents has been formed to look at ways to improve campus climate as a result of the actions being taken at the different campuses.

“We realize we have more work to do,” Board of Regents President Regina Millner said. “We also know how necessary it is that this work is accomplished.”

Nonresident tuition set to rise

UW-W undergraduate students who aren’t native Cheeseheads can expect to see a tuition raise of $500 next semester.

The rise translates into a 3.4 percent increase in tuition for nonresident students.

“The changes will provide enhanced revenue, and we recognize the market force is at play,” Regent Janice Mueller said in Friday’s Board of Regents meeting. “I stressed that no changes were made to resident undergrad tuition rates.”

All five schools received approval for the graduate tuition hike. However, only three of those schools, UW-W, UW-L and UW-Milwaukee, also asked for tuition rises for nonresidents.

Tuition for in-state undergraduate students are required to remain unchanged because of a tuition freeze written in Gov. Scott Walker’s ’15-17 state biennial budget.

The same biennial budget is part of the reason for the tuition raise – the budget cut $250 million in state funding from the UW System, with UW-W taking a hit of $5.8 million.

Jeff Arnold, vice chancellor for Administrative Affairs, alluded to a tuition increase of $250 for nonresident students, and a 2 percent increase in graduate tuition, as part of the solution for the budget deficit, in September 2015.

UW-W is the most fee-dependent school in the UW-System, Arnold said, with 90 percent of the education budget coming from student tuition.

Diversity discussions

Junior Natalie Arriaga told the Board of Regents that UW-W’s campus climate problems lie in how students with more diverse backgrounds are treated in class, and how many students view minorities speaking out on social media about injustices as “complaining” about situations brought about themselves.

“I’ve spoken Spanish a couple times at the University Center, and there’s times in which you get mimicked in regards to [students] speaking gibberish,” Arriaga said. “It’s a disrespect to your own language.”

UW-Stout junior Anthony Hoffman spoke about the campus’ blackface incident that occurred on Halloween.

The UW-Stout administration and the Stout Student Association took backlash for the statements they had put out in condemnation of the act, Hoffman said.

“That, to me, shows a complete lack of empathy and education on the part of many of my peers,” Hoffman said.

UW-Madison sophomore Mariam Coker, a student who wears a hijab, says her job as the Equity and Inclusion chair for Associated Students of Madison (ASM) is a “blessing and a burden,” because while she’s able to help direct students to the resources they need, she also gets stuck in the middle of many of the hate and bias incidents taking place on campus.

“The truth is, my mentee was spit in the face by someone who lives on her floor because she is black,” Coker said. “The truth is, for over a month when I was walking home, someone yelled, ‘Hey-o, ISIS,’ at me everyday, so much so that now I have to take the long way home.”

The panel suggested solutions of diversity education and cultural competence training for students, faculty and staff.

Regent Tim Higgins spoke to the panel about his experiences with race as a college student, saying he had “stuck his foot” in by asking a black student if he was there on a track and field scholarship.

Following that comment, another black student named John on his floor spent the next two years “enlightening” Higgins.

“I learned a whole lot about dealing with people who were not my race because John kept going, ‘Yeah, Higgins, are you on the track team?’” he said. “He just kept bringing it up for me, and making it front and center, and I believe that was a big help to me.

“When I hear statements like, ‘It’s not our job to educate the white people,’ I don’t understand that because I do think that’s your job,” he said.

Higgins then said it was his job to teach people about the Catholic faith, because of his religion.

Coker said it is the job of paid diversity staff to educate curious students, not hers.

Besides, she said, she shouldn’t have to “prove her humanity” to other students.

“It’s my job to get an education,” Coker said. “It’s my job to learn … it should not be an extra priority for me to teach other people.”