Tag Archives: graduate

UW tuition increases, raise request get regents OK

University of Wisconsin System officials have approved raising tuition for out-of-state, graduate and professional school students by hundreds of dollars at more than a half-dozen campuses as they grapple with a Republican-imposed freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition.

The plan calls for increases at UW-Eau Clare, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Stout and all the system’s two-year institutions beginning next fall.

The increases range from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars for professional schools at UW-Madison, the system’s flagship campus.

That school’s plan includes raising nonresident undergraduate tuition by $4,000 to $35,523 per year. Increases at the school’s professional schools are even steeper. A master’s degree in global real estate will now cost $43,387 per year, an increase of $11,116. One year of medical school will now cost $46,387 for nonresidents, an increase of $7,751. Wisconsin residents will now have to pay $34,478 annually for medical school, an increase of $5,828.

The campuses and system leaders contend they need the extra money in the face of the resident undergraduate freeze, which entered its fourth year this fall and a $250 million cut Republicans imposed on the system in the current state budget.

They also maintain the increases would bring nonresident rates more in line with peer institutions and dollars generated by the graduate increases will stay in those programs.

The plan represents a third round of nonresident and graduate tuition increases at La Crosse, Milwaukee and Stout and the second at UW-Madison since 2015.

The Board of Regents approved the increases on a voice vote.

Discussion lasted less than 15 minutes. Regents Bryan Steil and James Langnes, a UW-Whitewater student, were the only dissenters. Steil said the increases were “too much, too fast.”

System President Ray Cross and regents President Regina Millner countered that the increases represent an investment in the system’s future and UW-Madison’s professional schools are the only such public schools in the state and are crucial to providing doctors, veterinarians and lawyers for Wisconsin.

Raising nonresident and graduate tuition risks alienating those students and losing them to other schools. But system officials said in a memo to regents that schools aren’t concerned about losing those students because the rates are still competitive with peer institutions. A preliminary system report shows the overall number of nonresident freshmen fall enrollments has increased since the 2013-14 academic year.

The regents this fall approved a separate plan to keep undergraduate resident tuition flat for 2017-18 and raise it by no more than the rate of inflation the following year if Republicans lift the freeze. GOP Gov. Scott Walker has said he wants to continue the freeze for at least one more year but hasn’t committed beyond that.

Vote for employee raises

The regents also unanimously approved seeking an additional $78 million from the Legislature to bulk up employee raises over the next two years.

System leaders argued in a memo to the board that other public universities’ salary increases have been outstripping the UW System. UW-Madison’s faculty salaries, for example, were 18 percent lower than peer faculty elsewhere after adjustments for geographic costs of living in fiscal year 2014-15, the memo said.

The vote sends the request to the Legislature’s employment relations committee.

The request comes on top of the system’s request for an additional $42.5 million in state aid in the next state budget.

UW-Madison delays changes to teaching pay for grad students

After several weeks of advocacy work by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Teaching Assistants’ Association, the administration agreed to delay implementation of a plan to restructure graduate student pay on campus.

The plan, which only came to light a few weeks ago, was developed behind closed doors with no graduate student input.

Implementation of the plan has been delayed until 2017, but continues to represent a breach of the university’s promise to honor the TAA labor contract after the passage of Act 10, according to the TAA.

Earlier in November, outside Bascom Hall on the campus, the TAA set forth a list of demands in response to the graduate school’s proposed restructuring of pay:

• In order to provide a more livable standard for all graduate workers and bring the university in line with peer institutions, provide a pay raise for all graduate workers campus-wide.

• For the sake of transparency and openness, the current proposal must be scrapped and the graduate school must work in conjunction with graduate students to find a solution that works for all graduate workers.

• For the sake of democracy and shared governance, the graduate school must provide a seat at the table with real power for graduate workers.

• The administration must respect our position as workers on campus and the value we create for the university.

“This proposal would force individual departments to decide how much we’re worth, who is worth more, and who deserves a higher wage. Department heads, faculty, and administrative staff would be forced to turn to private donors to make sure graduate workers are being paid at amounts that don’t even meet a basic standard living wage,” said TAA co-president Sergio González.

He continued, “We’ve got some of the smartest graduate students in the world working at this university. I invite all of you to join the TAA in proposing an alternative pay structure that is fair, equitable, and just, and that represents what is best for our university, its workers, and all of its students. The university must scrap this proposed pay restructuring and bring graduate student workers to the table so that together we can find a solution to ensure that the University of Wisconsin–Madison continues to be an elite institution committed to shared governance and world-class teaching and research.”

Adria Brooks, a TAA member and a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering, said, “If we allow policies to be passed that kill equal pay for equal work, then whenever the College of Engineering, my college, brings in multi-million dollar industry grants to improve undergraduate studies, the language departments tasked with educating the associated increase in engineering students needing to fulfill their general education requirements may not be able to fairly compensate their graduate teaching assistants for this work.”

Concerned about the effect the new proposal will have on departments across campus, Brooks said, “When the administration pushes through policy changes like this, without graduate student input, it marginalizes traditional, non-grant based departments, but most importantly, it impinges on the world-class education we promise to our undergraduate students: of course we are in favor of pay raises. Of course we do not want esteemed faculty, students, and funding opportunities to bypass the University of Wisconsin for other institutions. But we want these things because they benefit all disciplines, not just a few.”

The TAA is the oldest graduate student labor union in the United States. Graduate student workers perform nearly half of all the instruction that takes place at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, while also taking classes and conducting research, according to the TAA.

Joey’s story: With pride and determination, transgender man overcomes barriers to achieve goals

He would have been the first person in his family to graduate from high school, but an insurmountable barrier stood in his way: four credits of gym class.  The school would not give him a private place to change, and he couldn’t stand feeling like a “pervert” — a boy in the girls’ locker room. He gave up the diploma instead.

Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the Transgender Discrimination Study, a groundbreaking study of 6,450 transgender people was conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Published in 2011, it still stands as our most comprehensive look at the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the U.S. 

Its scope is breathtaking. Examining health, employment, family life, housing, public accommodations, identification documents, police and incarceration, and much more, the study’s authors concluded: “Transgender and gender non-conforming people face injustice at every turn — in childhood homes, in school systems that promise to shelter and educate, in harsh and exclusionary workplaces, at the grocery store, the hotel front desk, in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, before judges and at the hands of landlords, police officers, health care workers and other service providers.”

The report’s findings about education shed light on many of the other health and income disparities transgender people face.  People who expressed a non-traditional gender in grades K-12 experienced very high rates of harassment (78 percent), physical assault (35 percent) and sexual violence (12 percent), from both student peers and staff.  Six percent were expelled because of their gender identity or expression, and 15 percent left school or college because of the harassment they experienced.

Those statistics are reflected in Joey Clark’s story. 

“I went to two different high schools and at each one I was picked on a lot. I was picked on verbally for being different, and other students would spread rumors about me.  A few would try to physically hurt me, but I was able to protect myself in that way. I did not know at all how to protect myself emotionally.  They called me a lesbian and a freak, and I didn’t even know how to explain what I was at that time in my life.”

The statistics show that trans kids who drop out of high school end up with high rates of homelessness (48 percent), more involvement in sex work or other work in the underground economy, and — probably because of that — they’re far more likely to experience incarceration.  Trans drop-outs also have higher rates of HIV, use more drugs and alcohol, and more often attempt suicide than do trans people who manage to get their high school diploma.

Probably because he was so committed to being “a good father,” Joey followed a different path.  “I never want my kids to use me not getting a diploma as an excuse,” he said, “so I started taking my tests and received my high school equivalency diploma the year after I would have graduated.”

He tried to go on to tech school, but many of his high school tormenters had moved there, too. “I was the talk of the school.  Lots of people could not wait to point and tell anyone they could that I was born with female parts, but they did not say it that nice.  I found myself not being able to stand up yet.”
Here’s where Joey’s story illustrates another finding of Injustice at Every Turn:  Despite their traumatic experiences in high school, many more transgender people end up returning to college.  Injustice notes,   “Respondents reported considerably higher rates of educational attainment than the general population, with 47 percent receiving a college or graduate degree, compared to only 27 percent of the general population.”

Tired of dead-end jobs and wanting to teach his two children the importance of education, Joey tried again.  With the help of what he calls an “amazing” counselor and his local transgender support group, he figured out “not only what I wanted in life, but also how to feel ‘safe and valuable.’” He not only re-enrolled in tech school, but took on leadership roles as well. He helped start the LGBT Club on campus, became its president, and then stepped up to preside over the student senate.  

On May 17, 2014, Joey graduated from Moraine Park Technical College with an associate degree in Criminal Justice/Corrections and a GPA of 3.25. Besides continuing to be a great dad to his kids, his goal is to continue on to get his bachelor’s degree and work in or run an LGBT center in the Fond du Lac/Oshkosh area. He is also deeply committed to “doing all I can to help my transgender family to be happy and achieve equal rights.”

This PrideFest, Joey will be FORGE’s chief “free hugger.” Come by FORGE’s booth to receive your free hug sticker and congratulate Joey on his achievements.

Loree Cook-Daniels is policy and program director of FORGE, a national resource for transgender and elderly LGBT people that’s headquartered in Milwaukee.

College freshmen: 75 percent support gay marriage

Each year since 1966, UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute has conducted a massive survey of incoming freshmen at four-year colleges, asking questions about their motivations, their plans and their political views. Typically, big shifts are only apparent over long time periods. But sometimes economic and political currents can lead new college students to give responses noticeably different from what their predecessors said.

This year’s survey is based on the responses of 192,912 first-time, full-time students at 283 four-year colleges. The responses are statistically weighted to reflect the broader population of such students – approximately 1.5 million at 1,613 institutions nationally.

Here are some key findings:

• Support for same-sex marriage rose to 75 percent, up 4 points from just a year ago and up 24 points from 1997. Among freshmen calling themselves conservative, 47 percent support same-sex marriage, up from 43 percent a year ago.

• The number who believe abortion should be legal also has increased, from 58 percent in 2008 to 61 percent this year, while 65 percent believe the wealthy should pay higher taxes (up from 60 percent in 2008).

• The percentage who said they believe “a national health care plan is needed to cover everybody’s medical costs” fell from 70 percent in 2008 to 63 percent this year.

• Compared to 2008 when President Barack Obama was elected the first time, fewer freshmen now identify as liberal (30 percent, down from 34 percent). More students call themselves middle of the road (47 percent, up from 43 percent) and the number calling themselves conservative is about the same (23 percent).

• Two-thirds of incoming freshmen (67 percent) said their choice of which college to attend was significantly affected by current economic conditions, up from 62 percent two years ago, when UCLA first asked the question. More are also deciding to live with family or relatives (17 percent, up from 15 percent last year) and fewer in dorms (76 percent, down from 79 percent a year ago).

• About 84 percent expect to graduate from college in four years. In fact, only about half are likely to do so.

• New college students are increasingly career-focused when it comes to what they want out of higher education. Among reasons for attending, getting a better job was the most common response and hit an all-time high of 88 percent, 20 points higher than in the mid-1970s. Other top reasons most students reported include making more money and gaining an appreciation of ideas.

• More than 30 percent of incoming college students reported frequently feeling overwhelmed when they were high school seniors. But there were wide gender gaps: 41 percent of female students said they’d felt overwhelmed, compared to 18 percent of male students.