For 48 hours on Nov. 11 and 12, students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will vote whether to instate differential tuition, extra money paid by students.
Unlike base tuition, the money does not go to the UW System to be redistributed but instead goes straight to the university that collects it.
John Ivansek, legislative affairs director for the Student Government Association, said the proposal serves as a way to eliminate “bottleneck” courses, or high-demand courses which can hold back students from graduation.
The extra money from differential tuition would also enable UWSP to hire approximately 10 professional academic advisers for first-year and transfer students.
“This fund is a fund we are creating by students with full faculty support to provide services that we have consistently needed for the past 25 years on campus,” Ivansek said.
Although differential tuition is a new proposal at UWSP, it is not a new practice at other universities in the system.
According to a report issued by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 10 other institutions within the system charge differential tuition for various programs, the latest being the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2010. Uniquely, the proposal at UWSP would be the first proposed and decided upon entirely by students.
In reaching out to students, SGA’s main focus is not the proposal’s passage. Instead, the association has been focusing on raising awareness of the referendum and increasing voter turnout.
“We know this is a very important issue that not everyone might agree with, and we’re totally okay with that – we just need to know,” Ivansek said. “We would feel more confident knowing that as many students as possible voiced their opinion.”
Ivansek said SGA has tripled its student outreach since the 2013 referendum banning tobacco on the university’s campus. During that particular referendum, 16 percent of the student body voted – double the national average for student referenda. Ivansek said he expects even more participation in November, estimating a turnout of 20 to 40 percent.
However, these numbers might not be easy to reach.
Many students said they seemed unaware of the proposal. For David Rasmussen, sophomore, the proposal seemed like a good idea, but he felt he needed more information to make a proper decision.
“I’d be for it, I think,” he said.
Despite this hurdle, prospects for the proposal seem positive.
Zach Robins, junior elementary education major, said the additional tuition is smart.
“For the long run, it seems like a pretty good idea,” he said.