Blugold Commitment stuck in limbo by tuition freeze

Student Senators lobbying for it’s increase


Story by Glen Olson, Chief Copy Editor

A staggered student fee that funds programs and employees at UW-Eau Claire will likely remain static through summer 2017, along with a UW System tuition freeze.

Blugold Commitment differential tuition — a charge on top of tuition that funds employee salaries and high-impact programs — won’t jump from $900 to its final $1,200 charge because the proposed 2015-17 biennial state budget calls for a tuition freeze across the UW System.

The program’s tiered funding system halted at its 2012-13 rate with a tuition freeze in the 2013-15 state budget.

Sam Fish, student body president, said Student Senate likely wouldn’t convince legislators and Gov. Scott Walker to raise the Blugold Commitment, “unless we really make a ruckus down there, and really inform people why it should go up.”

Fish, with Senators and students, plans to badger state lawmakers to show that differential tuition is different at UW-Eau Claire than similar charges at other UW System campuses.

“Ours is kind of different from a lot of universities just in the level of student involvement we have,” Fish said. “(Lawmakers need to) know this isn’t just a fund for administration and faculty to throw at new projects, and that it is a program that students are so involved in.”

This school year, the Blugold Commitment will pull in $10.7 million, which will be used to fund special projects and courses, faculty and student research and other programs beyond normal coursework.

The first round of Blugold Commitment charges, in 2009, funded instructor positions in 23 departments to provide special courses, and support for personnel in Learning Technology Services, Financial Aid and the honors programs.

It also provides funding for the Civil Rights Pilgrimage, the Eau Queer film festival, the Writing Center and faculty-led International Immersion Experiences, among others.

About 40 percent of Blugold Commitment funds provide financial aid for students through grant programs that focus on different areas of need, like funding study abroad trips.

Stephanie Jamelske, Eau Claire budget officer who works with Blugold Commitment allocations and proposals, said Senate and campus administrators adjust program funding yearly, to make sure programs are achieving Blugold Commitment objectives.

Jamelske said that the Blugold Commitment isn’t meant to patch university funding holes; it was created to provide programs and experiences that enhance an undergraduate degree.

She said Senate and administrators aren’t planning new commitment spending. While the Blugold Commitment isn’t directly affected by university funding cuts, it does depend directly on tuition rates and enrollment.

“We just don’t know,” Jamelske said. “As long as the tuition freeze stands and as long as that is the position of our state leadership, it is unclear what that means for differential tuition.”

Complete lists of funding amounts and the programs funded by Blugold Commitment are listed on the Blugold Commitment page of the university’s website.