The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Students should rid the university of United Council for its repeated blunders, shortcomings

I would like to begin by saying that if you haven’t heard of United Council, they have already failed us. Each of us pays $2 out of our own pocket every semester so that this organization can “lobby” for us to the Board of Regents and to the state Legislature.

This is not money well spent.

Because most students are unaware of United Council, how can you educate yourself? You could try to go to its Web site, but it hasn’t been updated since 2005. The easiest and most effective way to communicate is impossible because there’s no way to know what it’s currently working on.

Another possibility is asking our delegation leader. The delegation leader is the liaison from UW-Eau Claire that is expected to keep informed about the current issues and campaigns of United Council and help organize the movements here. However, answers may be difficult to come by when there are no agendas or minutes from their meetings to be found.

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So where does the $44,000 a year that we give United Council go and how is it spent? According to the latest Flip Side article written by Taylour Johnson of United Council, “The organization spends much of its time and energy educating students and members of campuses and the greater community about issues relevant to higher education.” Really? That’s interesting because I’ve only seen United Council in Eau Claire when it’s asking for money and making sure it’s getting it. It is amazing how interested United Council can be in your opinion when there is a threat to its pocketbook.

The other side of communication lies in the hands of the “campus buddy.” The campus buddy is assigned three or four different campuses in order to educate them and seek their input. I’m told that a campus buddy is only expected to visit each campus twice a semester. I don’t think that I’ve seen ours yet this semester, and there are only two weeks left.

I also requested to be put on our campus buddy’s mailing list last December and received e-mails for about a month. Then they stopped. Either our buddy isn’t working on any campaigns or she has forgotten to get student input on those issues. Either way, she isn’t doing her job. In the real world, when you’re not doing your job, you get fired.

So what makes this referendum important, and why does it need to happen now? This is a very relevant issue and demands our attention. The only plus of United Council is that it has the ear of the Board of Regents. But why would we want a group to speak for us when it doesn’t ask us what we want?

There have been countless instances in which United Council spoke generally about the UW System campuses when it had not sought information from all campuses regarding the issue. It only speaks for the campuses that give them the most money, UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee. They are the ones holding the purse strings.

This referendum is also important because we at Eau Claire contribute more than $44,000 to a budget greater than $600,000. According to the same article in The Flip Side, the money we provide goes to supporting the “resources necessary to run and win campaigns.” Again, if you were to look at their Web site, they are only running one out- of-date campaign. With nine paid staff members, one would think they could do better. If there are any other campaigns out there, they are doing a very poor job of educating the students and enlisting our support.

Another question I would like to raise is where has United Council been for the last four years? These four years have seen the UW System take massive budget cuts that have raised tuition more than 55 percent. Where was the lobbying effort? Where was the campaign to keep tuition affordable for all students? United Council has failed students in the area where it should be recording the most wins.

The last major reason for this referendum, and why you should vote no, is because the concerns raised by our campus this last year are not new. These concerns have been shared time and time again. Yet every time there is talk of taking away their money, United Council comes to Eau Claire seeking input and promising to change. When something isn’t working, you need to get rid of it.

United Council isn’t working.

Some say that because there is a new administration, we need to give United Council another chance. I say it has had its chance. It has had the last 45 years to get this right. If after 45 years there are still problems as basic as communication, it isn’t the people, it’s the system.

Eau Claire cannot be afraid to take a stand against United Council. We should join our sister schools, such as UW-River Falls, UW-Platteville, UW-Green Bay and UW-Stout, that have withdrawn support of United Council in the last year and tell the Board of Regents it does not speak for us. Change arises from necessity. The only way to change United Council is to snap the purse strings and let them dangle. Let’s tell United Council on May 10 that we do not support its futile efforts and demand change.

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Students should rid the university of United Council for its repeated blunders, shortcomings