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Governor's proposal threatens UWS clubs

Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com Students walk through snow on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

University of Wisconsin-Superior students met last week to discuss one of Gov. Scott Walker's 2017-2019 budget proposals.

Allowing students to opt-out of allocable segregated fees would save them up to $115.42 per year. Some say it would also gut the culture.

"I've been involved in organizations since my freshman year," said Sam Wells, a junior. "It's everything to me. I love being involved."

That $115 per student equates to 55 different student organizations, from Amnesty International and the World Student Association to Campus Crusade for Christ and Ultimate Frisbee Club. They offer a host of free community events including culture night, science night, a soul food dinner and this weekend's SAGA-Con in the Yellowjacket Union.

Some groups, like the Barbecue Club, support other organizations with their skills.

"Every now and then, they set up a grill outside and give out burgers," said senior Bailey Johnson.

Others offer students leadership opportunities in their field of study, including trips to conferences.

The allocable fees also fund video production and student government.

"I don't know about you, but I am more than willing to pay an extra $115 to have these things," said Thomas Lidholm, chairman of the Segregated University Fee Allocation Committee.

The allocable portion is a small slice of the $1,552 in fees each student pays annually at UWS — the rest goes to things like athletics, health services, the Yellowjacket Union, Health and Wellness Center, music, theater, radio and more, according to rates listed online.

But that small amount has a big reach. A recent survey by the campus student involvement office found two-thirds of respondents were involved in one or more student organizations.

If students choose, they can add new organizations to reflect their interests. In the last year, Lidholm said, five have been officially recognized, including figure skating, tabletop gaming and mixed martial arts

UWS senior Sarah Setayeshi works two jobs to make ends meet, and she's involved in three organizations. She called the annual $115 allocable fee reasonable.

"It's about the experience," Setayeshi said. These organizations connect students to the school, community and one another. "That's what makes us Superior."

Lidholm encouraged students to call state Legislators, in particular those on the Joint Finance Committee, to voice their opposition to the proposal.

"Tell your story," he said. "Tell them what student organizations have done for your student experience."

SAGA-Con

Superior Alliance of Gamers and Associates offers anime movies (PG until 4 p.m.), a chance to use virtual reality gear, video game tournaments, Magic card games, panel talks on everything from beginning Japanese to surviving a zombie apocalypse, vendors, an artist's alley and more. The Barbecue Club also offers free sausages and hamburgers. Costumes welcome.

When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: Yellowjacket Union.

Cost: Free.

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