Students say goodbye to governor on his way to Washington D.C.

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As Tommy Thompson rounds out his 14-year tenure as governor of Wisconsin, the transition has allowed students to focus on what Thompson has – and hasn’t – done to affect students, especially students in the UW System.

And to put it bluntly, as Student Senate Public Relations Director Craig Smith did, some students are happy to see Thompson moving on.

“I’m just glad to see him leave Wisconsin,” Smith said.

Smith prefaced his comments by saying the UW System is among the best in the nation, but Thompson isn’t to thank for that.

Smith said increasing tuition, questionable appointments to the UW System Board of Regents and a history of not being responsive to students will be how he remembers Thompson as governor.

“He filled the Board of Regents with business cronies who thought the university should only be run like a business,” Smith said.

He said Thompson’s political affiliation isn’t what causes him to be upset with him, but rather his actions.

“It doesn’t matter whether Tommy (Thompson) is a Democrat or a Republican,” he said.

Smith said he realized Thompson’s impact when he became a college student and needed to pay tuition. Tuition costs have risen without significant increases in services available or pay for professors, Smith said.

But just as Thompson draws strong opposition from many students, some stand by his actions.

“He’s benefited students quite a bit,” said Eric Smith, an off-campus student senator. “He’s brought money into the system.”

Eric said Thompson has put his stamp on the UW System in many of the same ways that Craig criticized him, namely the use of the Board of Regents and the people he appointed to it.

“I would say that he has appointed people that have a good reputation,” Eric said. “It’s a better system every year.”

He also said tuition increases are inevitable and Thompson’s work on the Hope and Learning Credit, which helps parents of students enrolled in college financially, was noteworthy.

Eric and Craig agree Thompson’s student appointment to the Board of Regents, Joe Alexander, was a negative choice.

“I actually didn’t believe Joe Alexander was the right person,” Eric said. “He’s just kind of going along with what they say.

“He hasn’t been putting in his two cents for the students.”