The following was originally posted as a Facebook note. In the interest of including more student perspectives on the NBP, it is reposted here with the permission of both contributors.
Alyson S. writes:
Consider people’s attitudes with regards to “saving” and being fiscally responsible. Then check out this article, and especially this paragraph:
Widener, R-Springfield, told the AP he has met with university presidents and financial officers as well as state Chancellor Jim Petro about his findings. His concern is that some institutions are holding almost a year’s worth of expenses in their accounts, even as state budget writers are poised to allow them to raise tuition by as much as 3.5 percent.
The article was sent to me as part of a dialog I am involved in on the impact of the NPB and public authority status on the state’s perception of UW-Madison.
Here’s what I conclude: If we have people in the legislature who are anything like Senator Widener, then the possibility of the state decreasing its monetary contributions to the public authority-UW-Madison seems very likely, as there are people in the legislature who might think, “Hey! They are making more than they need to get by simply by charging a boatload for tuition! We don’t need to give them any taxpayer dollars at all!” And if UW is a public authority, then the state really won’t need to provide any financial support since the state statutes wouldn’t apply.
So if UW-Madison becomes a public authority and there is nothing in place to say that the state must provide the institution with funding, then it seems to me that it’s possible we’ll wake up one day working for an institution that is entirely privately funded by ridiculously high tuition.
But how probable is this? And would it really affect any of us who are working and studying at UW now? I have no idea — but what about in a few years? How responsible is it to just think about right now and not prepare for the accessibility and affordability of education in the future?
If there are people in Wisconsin anything like Sen. Widener in Ohio, and if these people are in positions within the government that allow them to control the budget (like, say, the Governor), then it’s definitely a possibility – and this is why I’m scared for the future of public higher education.
Jillian S. replies:
Always thinking, even in the midst of finishing an MA! I’m still trying to make sense of all this, but last week I read a public statement from the Wisconsin Farmers Union, and I had an “aha!” moment.
A public university should serve the public, not itself. The diverse range of undergraduate students that have made this institution what it is will seriously suffer once tuition hikes make it increasingly difficult for in-state students to attend – and will likely result in an influx of out-of-state undergrads who can pay full freight. I’m not sure what this means for me as a grad student, but as a human being, it pisses me off.