Students vote to increase fees, save programs online

By KJ LANG | La Crosse Tribune | Nov. 19, 2009

A vast majority of UW-L students voted Wednesday to pay more tuition to save certain student programs and 11 campus positions.

Students now annually pay a $60 “academic initiatives” fee to support such campus services as disability resources, academic advising, graduate research and violence prevention.

A record number of students participated in Wednesday’s online vote to add $45 to that fee. A second question asked if they would bump up the fee another $15, for a total increase of $60 a year, to add more services such as extended library hours and increased research opportunities.
About 84 percent of students, or 2,923, voted in favor of the $45 increase to maintain services, compared with 539 opposed. Of that same pool of voters, about 78 percent, or 2,684 students, also supported increasing the fee to $60, while 770 said no.

UW-L Student Association President Erik Kahl said he was pleased with the level of response and results.

“These are the programs that make our university unique and help make UW-L one of the best campuses in the system,” he said. “We would have been lost without them.”

The UW System Board of Regents will have the final say on increasing the fee, but the results will provide a compelling argument, said UW-L Chancellor Joe Gow.

“Students know their voice matters, so they want to be educated on issues and have a say in decision making,” he said.

Had the majority of students voted against increasing the fee, the matter wouldn’t go on to the Board of Regents and the services and jobs involved would have been considered for elimination or significantly reduced, said Gow.

“In a time when state funding is declining, it’s outstanding to see our students’ willingness to pay a little more of their own money to make sure UW-L stays strong for the future,” said Gow.