The Growth Agenda was developed with bi-partisan input from communities and businesses, and set into motion an initiative in all Wisconsin colleges. It was introduced in 2006 at the Board of Regents meeting, by University of Wisconsin System President Kevin P. Reilly. The hope with the growth agenda is to get more students through college and graduate with a degree, and then turn them out into the public so they can use their knowledge and skills to enrich communities, and better the economy in Wisconsin. The plan has three main goals:

  • Develop the state’s human potential
  • Create new jobs
  • Strengthen local communities

What does this mean for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater? So far it seems the Growth Agenda has caused the campus growing pains, and the road ahead does not look any less bumpy. Many students have had to relocate off-campus, and others worry about the potential growth in class sizes. SEAL continues in their efforts to make UW-Whitewater less of a “suitcase” college, but with more students moving off campus it has become more challenging to market their weekend events. There are positive intentions backing the Growth Agenda, but is it worth it for our campus? The negative effects may be too much for UW-Whitewater.

Here is a more in-depth explanation from Chancellor Telfer of what the Growth Agenda is, and what it means for UW-Whitewater.

Chancellor Telfer and the Growth Agenda

The Growth Agenda will continue to bring in an increasing number of students, and with it the need for more housing. However, Residence Life has been unable to keep up with the demand causing more students to move into off campus facilities.

Frank Bartlett, director University Housing, says it has been a careful balancing act in Residence Life. “It’s been very, very challenging for us to meet the needs of students,” Bartlett said.

Residence Life broke ground on Starin hall, a suit-style dorm building, in 2008 hoping to accommodate for the increasing student population. However, this has not stopped the need to push more and more students off campus.

University Housing has made a few adjustments in an effort to counter the housing shortage and overcrowding. The first step was to allow more sophomores to move off-campus.

At the majority of universities, it is required that students live on campus until they are in their junior year. Here at Whitewater, though, students have long been able to get out of the dorms as early as their sophomore year.

Chancellor Richard Telfer is in charge of making this change. In Wisconsin, it is usually mandated that students stay on campus until they are juniors. However, the chancellor of each University is given the authority to change this.

Due to the growing number of students being admitted to Whitewater, the chancellor has had no choice but to allow more sophomores to move off campus.

In order to get off-campus, the student must meet certain standards. A few years ago, that standard included not having any write-ups, and to have maintained at least a 3.2 GPA. Now, there is more leniency on the write-up rule, and the required GPA has been lowered.

Residence Life has also expanded their services into the off-campus world by renting out rooms in both the Fox Meadows and Cambridge apartment buildings. This includes two floors of rooms in Fox Meadows, and the entire Cambridge building.

The rooms Residence Life has acquired in the two apartment buildings are considered student housing, but there has been a larger issue with alcohol than what is found in the dorms.

John Witte, the assistant complex director for Fox Meadows and Cambridge, said in his two years working there alcohol has been the biggest problem. Witte said this is probably due to the apartment atmosphere.

Witte also said it is harder to catch the underage drinking if students are not being loud. “If underage students drank responsibly, it would be more difficult to catch them in Cambridge, than it would be in Benson,” Witte said.

The student housing in Cambridge and Fox Meadows is similar to the dorms in many ways. Although the apartment rooms are more expensive due to the kitchen and living rooms available in each unit, most students are sharing a room, there are RA’s on every floor and policies are more or less the same.

Even though Residence Life has attempted to make the apartment units just like living in the dorms, Witte said it is a much more independent living style for many of the students. “This atmosphere is completely different from a traditional resident hall, especially being in a building that residence life does not own,” Witte said.

Due to the independence, many students have chosen not to participate in some of the dorm living activities, such as taking part in the Leadership Involvement Team.

Now, as UW-Whitewater increases the student population every year, enrolment numbers hit record highs. Bartlett said there is a plan to build a new dorm near the Wells towers by the 2016 school year, but it has not yet been approved. Even with the new building, it does not seem like the University will be able to keep up with the numbers.

While the Growth Agenda continuous to bring in more students, Residence Life is taking a dorm building offline every year for renovations. This has been another factor in the overcrowding in dorms.

For some students, moving off campus can also be pricier than living in the dorms. Apartment prices sky rocket the closer to campus they are, and sometimes students pay over $2,000 a year to live in a small room in a run-down apartment.

Food prices are another aspect of off-campus living that can empty out a student’s pocket. Most have to settle with eating cheap cardboard pizza and roman noodles.

Bartlett said that it is beneficial for students to stay on campus, and studies have shown that when a person stays on campus longer, they have more success in their college career.

Moving off campus is a bit more complicated for students, and requires a higher level of responsibility, and accountability.

“We have the ability to offer individuals a different experience, but we’d like to have them all on campus,” Bartlett said.

With the Growth Agenda in place, it does not seem that Whitewater will be able to keep up with the amount of students needing on-campus housing.

In the Cambridge apartments, there can be up to five students in one unit. Usually each student will share a bedroom with another person, except in the case of the three bedroom apartments. In that instance, one student would pay more to have their own room, with a total of five students living in the unit. Here is a photo slide to show the differences between the apartment student housing, and the traditional dorms.

In Cambridge and Fox Meadows, the students get a living room, kitchen and one to two bathrooms.

Again, usually the units have two bedrooms and house four students, though there are a couple units with three bedrooms.

The dorms, on the other hand, have two students in every room. Each floor shares one bathroom, and there is usually only one kitchen and recreation area for each building.

The apartment units are also slightly more expensive than the dorms, but students in Cambridge and Fox Meadows are still considered on-campus living. They have RA’s on every floor, and use student meal plans to eat.

 

 

For one organization on campus, the more students living in the dorms, the better. The Student Entertainment Awareness League aims to make Whitewater less of a suitcase college.

This year SEAL began planning more large events on weekends while pairing up with the Residence Hall Association. They did so with hopes to keep more students around during the weekends, since Whitewater is known for being practically vacant by Friday afternoon.

Kristie Pedersen, the Assistant to the Advisor in SEAL, feels that the events have been working for students living on campus. It is easy for anyone living in the dorm buildings to see a flyer, or hear about SEAL events. However, it is much more difficult to draw in students who live off campus.

This causes an issue with the effect the Growth Agenda is having on student housing. With more and more students being encouraged to move off campus, SEAL may find it more difficult to draw them to their events.

Pedersen also said she thinks there is plenty going on to keep students around on the weekends, and that lack of activities is not the reason people leave.  “I think [Whitewater is a suitcase college], but I think that there’s so much to do on the weekends, so that’s that persons choice to leave,” Pedersen said.

However, some Whitewater students felt differently on the subject. One student said, “We could change [the suitcase effect] by having more organized events over the weekends.” Another said, “yes, have more activities on campus that persuade students to stay for the weekend.”

It seems although SEAL feels the big events are working, many students are not even aware they are taking place.

There was a survey of a little more than 50 UW-Whitewater students about how they felt about the possible increased class sizes, and the importance of smaller student to teacher ratios.

The students were first asked if they would have still chosen to attend UWW if the class sizes were bigger than they are currently. Of the students polled, 52.9% said they would not have attended school here.

Furthermore, 94.1% of students said they believe the smaller class sizes are crucial to a students learning experience. Some of the students polled commented:

The bigger the class the less likely I will want to speak up, ask a question, or talk to the teacher. The smaller the class it’s easier to do in class projects, and activities and participate in conversations.”

“Professors can focus on each student’s needs which in the long run helps. Plus students are held more accountable if professors know who they are and the type of work they’re capable of.”

“The main benefit of going to Whitewater is that we are not just a “number” in the professor’s eyes and we can receive an in depth education that can play off of our personal strengths and help improve our personal weaknesses.”

“Bigger class sizes definitely affect classroom learning on campus. Students here are incredibly luck to be able to form close working relationships with their classmates and the professor who is teaching them. Some general ed courses do have a larger class size and I think that impedes learning. Many students have different ways of learning and you can’t implement those things with a huge group of students.”

“I enjoy having smaller class sizes here at UWW, however I also enjoyed my classes that were lectures and had large numbers of students and do feel that larger classes would change the learning experience on campus. After experiencing both types of classes I found myself not paying as much attention my classes with more people. I think I felt that I was just one of so many so who would care if I didn’t show up or if I didn’t try as hard. The classes I have now are very small in number, and I feel more responsibility to be prepared for class and do all of my assigned work. When there are smaller class sizes everybody depends on everybody else to do their share and be prepared so everyone get get the most out of classroom discussions.”

Some students also commented on the importance of living in dorms. Most said they felt living on campus is a vital learning experience. One student, Brittany Van Asbach, has lived in the dorms her entire five years here at UWW. “I definitely think that dorm life is essential to getting accustomed to UWW life. I’ve continually met so many students who opted out of dorms and feel disconnected from a piece of their UWW career,” Asbach said.

Based on the opinions from students, some changes that come along with the Growth Agenda are not appealing. Larger class sizes may negatively impact some students’ education, and by pushing more people off campus younger students may miss a vital part of their college experience.

 

 

Interviews:

Richard Telfer :: Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Frank Bartlett :: Director of University Housing

John Witte: Assistant Complex Director, Fox Meadows/Cambridge

Kristie Pedersen :: SEAL Intern, Assistant to the Advisor

Lucas Greenwald :: UWW Student

Callie Carlin :: UWW Student

Brittany Van Asbach :: UWW Student

 

SurveyMonkey :: 51 UWW Students surveyed

 

Paper Sources:

Royal Purple :: Enrollment at UW-whitewater reaches a record high :: By, Samantha Jacquest

Royal Purple :: Growth Agenda not ideal for current students :: Editorial Staff Opinion

 

Online Sources:

http://www.wisconsin.edu/growthagenda/

 

Citizens of Whitewater and Fort Atkinson went to the polls Tuesday showing the majority of voters support the Move to Amend referendum.

In Fort Atkinson the vote resulted in 76 percent showing support for the movement. Whitewater had a slightly stronger result, with 83 percent casting a “yes” vote.

Dan Fary helped organize the Rock River affiliate of Move to Amend. “[The voting results] just shows the overwhelming support that citizens have for a constitutional amendment to return control of the democracy to the citizens,” Fary said.

James Hartwick, another representative of the Rock River affiliate, was also happy with the results of the referendum.

“I am surprised and pleased by the outpouring of the average person saying enough is enough,” Hartwick said. [The election result showed] strong bipartisan support to get big money out of elections.”

Whitewater and Fort Atkinson are not the only two cities to show support for this referendum. They are joined with Eau Claire County, West Allis, Madison, Dane county, the Town of Westport and Dunn County.

The referendum came about after the Citizens United case in 2010. The Supreme Court decided with a 5-4 decision that gave Corporations and labor unions the right to spend an unlimited amount of money on political campaigns.

The reason behind the court’s decision was that the funds being spent were not in coordination with a campaign, and did not give rise to corruption.

Hartwick believes there is indeed corruption that is polluting our political system. The money seems to not be in direct association with a specific campaign, but through the cover of super PACs, big money is used to buy advertisements for political campaigns.

A super PAC is a political action committee that allows corporations, unions and other organizations to donate freely, without identifying how much they are giving, and who they are supporting politically. Coincidentally, these did not exist prior to the Citizens United case.

Those in support of Move to Amend look to get big money out of elections. From a legal standpoint, Corporations have First Amendment rights and money is deemed free speech.

Another problem with the Citizens United ruling is that corporations are multi-national. Harwick believes this will become a very big issue if citizens do not make a stand now.

“This is something we could be sending our sons and daughters to fight a war over,” Harwick said. “I would rather fight at the ballot than go kill somebody or be killed.”

Amending the constitution is no walk in the park. In the last 200 years, it has only been done 17 times. However, showing support for Move to Amend is a good way to show politicians where the citizens stand.

There are some that feel weary about change to the constitution, and are against the Move to Amend.

However, even president Obama seems uncertain of the Supreme Court’s decision. After the results came out, Obama said there may necessity to take a look at constitutional amendment.

If the amendment goes through it will limit how much money Corporations can spend on political campaigns, and will reverse the right of money as free speech.

By: Madeline Roznos

A new Osteopathic Medicine college will be built in Jefferson, with hopes that it will raise the city’s economy and aid Wisconsin in the supply and demand for OM doctors.

Dr. Gregg Silberg presented at the Jefferson County Board Meeting Tuesday to show the importance of the college, and the positive impact it will have on the community. They plan to build the school at Sanctuary Ridge on the old St. Colleta property, and establish classes by August 2015.

Jefferson was in competition with other cities as to where the school would be built. Chairman John Molinaro said Jefferson won due to the availability of broadband. The college will run almost completely on electronics.

Silberg said the school will necessitate 100 new employees, and the mature economic impact could be as high as $65 million a year for Jefferson.

The college will also help with the increasing national shortage of OM doctors. Silberg said supply and demand is an issue, as the number of elderly in our country will double by the year 2030.

OM doctors tend to work in rural and underserved parts of the country, and 90% of students will stay in Wisconsin after they graduate, Silberg said.

Wisconsin needs between 850 and 900 physicians each year, and with the increasing shortage across the nation Silberg believes an OM college in Jefferson will increase access to high quality health care at a low cost.

Although it is an absolute that they will be building the college in Jefferson, they have not begun to actively seek funding. Silberg said they are about 20% through the process.

The college will host about 100 students a year, 85% of them from Wisconsin. The undergraduate/graduate program will be seven years total, unlike the usual 8 year program at other colleges. The cost will be $40,000 a year.

For those interested, there will be an open house on April 19 for people to view the buildings, and get an idea of what the school will entail.

New interim administrator

Gary Petre announced his retirement from County service, which will go into effect March 31, 2013. The County Board has been in the search for a replacement since December 11, 2012.

The Administration and Rules Committee decided it would be in the County’s best interest to appoint an Interim Administrator to cover the duties and responsibilities left in the vacancy of Petre’s position.

The board approved of Kathi Cauley for the Interim Administrator position. Cauley has been appointed to this position on a part time basis, as she continues her position as Director of Human Services.

Countryside Home negotiation extended

The chairman also announced the extension of negotiation in the purchase of the old Countryside Home property. This will not be finalized until the County Board meeting in April.

Although the board had expected to approve this at the meeting Tuesday, some unexpected environmental issues had arisen just a few days before. Molinaro said they had encountered an asbestos issue.

The board had been aware of a mild issue with asbestos, but it was confirmed the dilemma was a much bigger and more expensive problem than they had originally anticipated. Molinaro said the bank estimated there could be as much as $150,000 worth of asbestos removal underneath the property.

Molinaro extended the negotiation date in order to get firm numbers before they made an approval.

In other action Tuesday:

  • The County Board voted in favor to proclaim April 2013 as Child Abuse and Neglect prevention Month.
  •  The contract for professional design services for the Highway Department will go to bid, regardless of the work already done by Barrientos Design.

The Highway Committee and Infrastructure Committee approved and recommended to contract Barrientos Design. “They have already gone              above and beyond. Putting [the contract] up to bid will not change anything,” one committee member said.

However, some board members felt the committee worked with a secretive nature, and felt it was their due diligence to see what other options were available before they spent money.

The next County Board meeting will take place on April 16, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Jefferson Country Courthouse, room 205.

Treyton’s Field of Dreams announced at the Common Council meeting Feb. 5 that the estimated cost for the project will be $1 million.

Matt Amundson, the Parks and Recreation Director for the city of Whitewater, represented the Kilar family in a presentation to the Common Council. He believes this estimated cost is at the higher end, and declared it as a worst case scenario.

This cost would cover the main field, as well as upgrading the other four fields located at Starin Park. The money would also cover a necessary parking lot; a major concern for the council members as there is already a lack in parking space in that area.

The Kilar family also wishes to build a pavilion by the field to use as a gathering place as well as concession stand. It is undeclared as to if this will be built along with the field, or in another phase of the project.

Amundson said he is confident that this estimated price will be lowered after going to bid with Strand and Associates Inc., a construction corporation located in Madison. A few organizations have offered to do various site work projects free of charge including:

  • Fencing
  • Batting cages
  • Dugouts
  • Benches

So far, the Whitewater community has raised $600,000, and the bidding in two weeks will finalize what is still needed to complete the field. The kilars hope to get the site plan approved for Treyton’s Field of Dreams, and award a site work contract by the end of February.

Amundson said in his presentation that the field will bring in good revenue for the city. Treyton’s Field of Dreams would be a signature field, attracting many teams to come compete in baseball tournaments.

This revenue would accumulate via visiting families coming to town for tournaments, with needs such as lodging, restaurants, gas, entertainment, sporting goods and retail.

Another hot item discussed at the meeting was a dispatch staffing study. Lisa Otterbacker, the chief of police, requested to bring in an outside source to assess the dispatch staff and procedure.

The survey will cost $8,400, and will show the police station if things are running correctly and efficiently in their dispatch center. The survey will also project what will be needed in the future.

Otterbacker’s main concern with dispatch is that they do not always have enough people on staff to answer and respond to incoming calls. She is having this survey done to better the safety of Whitewater citizens.

Other items discussed in the meeting include:

  • A new squad-car for the police department, purchased from Ketterhagen dealership
  • The need for better lighting at the corner of Tratt and Starin streets.

The next Common Council meeting will be held Feb. 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the Whitewater Municipal building.