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

United Council expresses student needs to state, disbanding it would damage higher education

It’s time to take a stand. As students, we face the growing number of problems confronting public higher education in this country every day. We’ve all seen our tuition increase, financial aid get cut and student loan interest rates increase dramatically. As a result, many of us are finding it harder and harder to continue our education and graduate from college.

In these tough times for students, it’s more important than ever that we remain a united front to battle the nationwide epidemic of decreased state funding for public higher education. Those states that don’t have a state student association have seen even more detrimental effects on their public higher education institutions. We will always be stronger united than we are divided.

Our statewide student association, United Council, has been around for 45 years, building student power and fighting for a more accessible and affordable UW System.

United Council is the only structure in which our voices, as students, can be unified and taken seriously by decision-makers like the state Legislature, Board of Regents and UW System. We pay $2 a semester and reap benefits that save us far beyond the insignificant financial crush those two bucks put on our tuition bill. Just this year, we’ve had the most legislative victories we’ve had in adecade.

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In December United Council inspired the passage of a bill to add a second student to the Board of Regents, doubling student representation on the Board that sets our tuition. We increased the Wisconsin Higher Education Grant by $500, resulting in $10 million more in financial aid for Wisconsin families next year. Pretty good for $2, huh?

Even this week, United Council won a victory to strengthen sexual assault laws by adding alcohol as an intoxicant. We all know that sexual assault is most prevalent on college campuses and alcohol is the most widely used date-rape drug. Along with these victories, United Council secured many others to increase access and improve campus life for all students in Wisconsin.

United Council believes education is a right and has been building grassroots power among students to win concrete victories that enhance students’ lives and will continue to do this great work for many years to come.

Now more than ever, it is important for us to stay united and work toward making our state student association the strongest in the country. We, the students of Eau Claire, along with our peers around the state, are United Council – not the staff in Madison.

UW-Eau Claire has a long history with United Council. In fact, we were one of its founding members. We have the ability to put our energy into making positive change for students in Wisconsin by working with students around the state through an organization that is only as strong as its students.

If we want to improve United Council, we need to work harder. If every student dedicated two hours a semester to United Council, it would be the most powerful advocacy organization in Wisconsin. So let’s get to it!

If you haven’t heard of United Council and want to learn more, you can come talk to any of the hard-working students here at Eau Claire committed to fighting for students, like myself. I’ve worked in United Council for more than two years and helped win a victory linking tuition increases to financial aid increases. Even if you don’t know exactly what I do, I’ll still be here working hard for issues that affect all students.

United Council has given me the training and skills necessary to be an effective advocate for students. Every student has the same opportunity as I do to get involved and make a difference. If you don’t agree with the hard work I’ve been doing for the past two years alongside my fellow students around the state, don’t completely stifle the organization by eliminating our university from it. Instead, you can request the return of your $2, and we’ll even throw in the 39 cents for postage.

Instead of using your energy to silence the voices of students not only here at Eau Claire, but around the state, I encourage you to take a stand and VOTE YES for United Council on Wednesday’s ballot. Without United Council, I would never have been able to be a part of the statewide student movement here in Wisconsin. I want to leave a legacy of strength, solidarity, power and hope for Eau Claire students, so I am voting YES to keep us part of Wisconsin’s only unified statewide student voice.

Radcliffe is a junior political science major, a director of Senate’s student services commission and a columnist for The Spectator.

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United Council expresses student needs to state, disbanding it would damage higher education