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UW System Drops 2-Year School Application Fees For Fall

Ray Cross: Move Will Help Reassure Students Uncertain About Applying During System Merger

college students studying
Michael Barker Studio (CC BY-NC-ND)

The University of Wisconsin System is waiving application fees to its two-year schools for the fall semester.

System President Ray Cross told regents during a meeting Thursday at UW-Milwaukee that the move is designed to reassure students who may be uncertain about applying to a two-year school as the system merges those campuses with its four-year institutions.

Cross said UW officials recognize the uncertainty and realize students may be delaying applications.

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“As with any organization going through significant structural change, a decline in sales, or in this case enrollments, is usually expected at first,” said Cross, adding that all two-year schools are open and students should apply.

He said the fee waiver began Thursday and will continue until Sept. 7.

The regents in November approved Cross’ plan to make the 13 two-year schools branch campuses of seven nearby four-year schools. The four-year institutions are slated to take control of the smaller schools July 1.

Regents OK Sharing Employee Sexual Harassment Details

Regents also decided Thursday to consider changes in how it handles personnel files across campuses, aiming to close sexual harassment reporting gaps as part of a request from Gov. Scott Walker.

Regents called for administration to create policies that would make personnel files of current and former UW employees available during the hiring process.

The move comes after a Stevens Point Journal report revealed a former UW-Stevens Point assistant dean was hired at UW-Eau Claire despite an investigation that found he sexually harassed a woman.

Drew Peterson is the Regent Vice President and introduced the resolution.

“The end result must make sure that employee misconduct at one UW system institution cannot be hidden as they seek to work somewhere else within our system,” he said.

Still, some regents like Mike Jones had reservations about what unsubstantiated harassment claims could do to someone during the hiring process.

“You would effectively be destroying someone’s career,” Jones said. “So I support what we’re trying to do — share information — I’m just not sure this does it.”

The resolution is asking for policies that would have schools document sexual harassment allegations in personnel files; determine whether job applicants have been accused of sexual harassment; and develop procedures when providing references for UW employees accused of sexual harassment.

System officials will incorporate the changes into a policy. Regents are expected to vote on the policy in August.

Regents Set To Approve Student Fees, Room And Board Increases Friday

The Board of Regents are also set to approve an increase in student fees, and room and board costs at four-year campuses Friday. The increases are included in the proposed budget for the upcoming 2018-19 academic year.

The budget would raise student fees at campuses statewide by an average of $33 and $118 for room and board. Some students say there should be more transparency over why increases are being proposed, including Scott Holmes, student government association president at UW-Superior.

“Every student has bills that they have to take care of,” he said. “Whether it’s books or, you know, just the basic fees that are going up or room and board or whether you live on-campus or not. Everything goes up and it just makes it more of a challenge.”

At UW-Milwaukee, student fees and room and board would increase by 1.5 percent to $11.80 and $63 per semester respectively, said Alyssa Molinski, president of the student body. While frustrating, she said the increases were reasonable.

“The reasoning behind the increases are understandable because for segregated fees the money is going to our transportation services like our Milwaukee County Transit System bus pass … A lot of people use it to get to school,” she said. “We also have a lot of money in the increase that’s going to student health.”

Student fees would increase $191 at UW-Platteville to fund debt service and costs related to the Williams Fieldhouse expansion. UW-Eau Claire would see the largest increase of $298 for room and board, which is due mostly to new or renovated residence halls.

Two-year campuses wouldn’t be affected by the increases. UW-Marinette wants a $9 increase to offset depleted reserves. UW-Marathon County and UW-Marinette want to increase room rates by $65 and $227 respectively. UW-Marathon County wants a $56 increase for meal plans.

A UW System spokesman said in an email that tuition remains frozen for students for the sixth year in a row. The majority of the increases would pay for debt service and student initiatives. It would also pay for 2 percent pay raises for UW employees — the largest pay bump for workers in a decade.

Editor’s note: This story was last updated at 6:38 p.m. Thursday, June 7, 2018. Olivia Shalaby contributed to this report. Wisconsin Public Radio is a service of the University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.