MADISON — Republican state
legislators are recommending that students on the
University of Wisconsin System campuses be required to
vote twice in order to approve the construction of new
amenities, a measure some school leaders contend would
make the process unnecessarily difficult.
Rep. Dave Murphy, of
Greenville, and Sen. André Jacque, of De Pere, are
crafting a bill that would bar student fee-funded building
projects from proceeding without the majority vote from
students, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
"You need to make the
case to students," said Jacque. "We're not
trying to make it easy to add to students' debt
Students are currently
required to vote once. But under the proposal, the
students who don't vote would be considered to have casted
no votes, which would further complicate the approval
process to construct student-funded buildings, said a
student leader at the university's Madison campus.
This year, the school's
students will pay between roughly $1,000 and $1,600 in
yearly fees for bus transportation, student organizations
and services such as mental health counseling. If approved
by students in a referendum, a share of those fees would
go to paying for the building of amenities that include
student unions and recreation facilities.
The restrictions outlined
in the proposed bill "would have a significant
negative impact on universities' ability to provide the
types of facilities that students expect," said John
Lucas, a spokesman for the university's Madison campus.
Laura Downer, an incoming
senior at the Madison campus, questioned the likelihood of
her school's roughly 22,000 students showing up and voting
yes in two separate referendums.
"It strikes me as more
of a way to prevent buildings from ever being built than
as a way to increase student voice," said Down,
chairwoman of the Madison campus' student government,
which works with various university units to hold
referendus when the need for a building is being
Melissa Baldauff, a
spokeswoman for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, declined to
comment on whether he would sign the bill into law. But
Baldauff noted that the university's System Board of
Regents and campuses need flexibility.
The proposal will be
introduced within the next two weeks, Murphy's office