10.05.2006

The Problem with Seg Fees

ASM, like any government, taxes its constituents (that's us, the students). What is different is that our taxes come in the form of segregated fees that are included in our tuition statements, not taken out in our paychecks.

True, like most taxes our fees do go towards things like health care and transportation. By and large, I have no problem with funding the UW Health Clinics because they allow students to receive basic health care without buying high-priced insurance. Our bus passes are also good for students so that they need not walk alone at night or long distances in the cold winters.

However, there are many other things our taxes pay for that are not good.

Imagine, if you will, that the State of Wisconsin decided that taxes it collected from all citizens in the State were going to fund advocacy groups. Starting in the next fiscal year groups such as Wisconsin Right to Life, the Wisconsin ACLU, Citizens for Responsible Government, Fair Wisconsin, and any other organization you can think of, are now eligible to receive funding from the State. Your hard earned money is now going to groups that you may not agree with, or in some cases vehemently oppose.

Is that fair?

Should any group get funding simply because they do not discriminate in their membership?

The answer is no. We have groups that advocate sex, safe sex to be sure, but in essence they advocate have sex. Should we allow funding to a group that advocates abstinence?

We have many, many groups whose expressed purpose are to promote equality and diversity. Yet those groups divide themselves along racial and ethnic lines. Why is this? If the goal is to promote and encourage diversity of all kinds then why do they insist on segregating themselves?

The solution to this problem is either do away with funding altogether, except of course the Health Clinics, Bus passes, Student Unions, and similar services, or provide an opt-out system.

The opt-out system is the best way, allow the taxpayers (in this case, students) to decide which groups, if any, are important enough to receive their funding. Of course the response is that this would destroy the Student Orgs, but if the groups are not providing services that students believe are worth funding, should the groups deserve the funding in the first place?

This is an issue that is going to come to the surface soon, and we need to be ready to have a serious debate about these issues.