Of the total 1,000 students who voted in the Student Government Association (SGA) survey about the differential tuition proposal, 39 percent, or 392 students, said "no" when asked if they supported the Pointer Compact. The Compact would raise tuition to University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point students by $648 annually for campus operations, an increase above the UW Board of Regents allowed yearly increases of 5.5 percent. Only 20 percent of participants—202 students out of the 9,500 population—checked "yes" in support of the Compact.
Of the grand total of students who participated in the survey, 82 percent said they were "aware of the Pointer Compact," signaling that the majority of students who took the survey did so with informed opinions. Adding to the 39 percent against and 20 percent in support, 37 percent of the respondents checked either "Unsure/unknown" or "Maybe" when asked if they supported the differential tuition package.
This was despite the favorable view of the Compact in the email SGA sent out with the survey, which stated before the link to the survey, "The Pointer Compact will allow UWSP to offer more course sections, eliminate course bottlenecks, expand advising and tutoring, and allow for more resources devoted to undergraduate research. The funding generated through the Pointer Compact will be allocated through a committee of five students, and four faculty."
Approximately 10 percent of the student body was the sample of the survey result; a valid percentage, as more students voted in the Pointer Compact survey sent by SGA earlier this month than in the SGA general election this past Spring.
Still, students were confounded when asked about the Compact. When asked if she voted and how, WWSP 90 FM staffer and UWSP tour guide Nicole Allee asked in return, "Was it emailed to us? Because, I delete those things—I use email to take care of class stuff and communicate with professors. We get so much stuff [via email], there’s no way to distinguish what’s important."
"They should have engaged students more, rather than send out one email," Allee said. "We only hear about things word-of-mouth, but even that way no one really knows about it."
"It’s not that no one cares. It’s that most people are apathetic because they don’t realize what’s going on," said 90 FM Promotions Director Megan Turbin. "If we’re not active, someone else is going to make the big decisions for us."
The SGA email later noted that the survey "is not a binding referendum," meaning that the student vote could be ignored by the Student Senate. If SGA and the UWSP administration want to implement differential tuition by the next academic year, the Compact would have to be voted on by the end of this semester. SGA has only two remaining Student Senate sessions this semester.
"I wonder if there’s even anything students can do to stop it," Turbin said.
"We’re happy with the plan, but we’re fully aware that we’re operating under a sensitive timeline and, if certain components of the plan cannot be met, then we are fully prepared to delay the Pointer Compact," said Student Senator Seth Hoffmeister.
Other students have been more active in spreading the word, such as College of Letters and Science Dean’s Student Advisory Council (SAC) member Kelsey Finke, who said, "I think [differential tuition] is necessary, but I would question where some of the money is going. Especially the adjuncts we’re hiring and the money for advising."
Part of the $5.5 million the Compact will generate annually will be used to hire additional teachers to assist faculty with bottleneck courses and tutoring. "We’ve had professors leave us because of cuts," Allee said. "Instead of hiring sub-par individuals to help us graduate faster, we should focus on keeping the professors we have and making our departments stronger."
Finke, who is also a member of the Political Science Honors Society, said the Letters and Science Dean’s Student Advisory Council "has been trying to reach out to the students, which is very difficult because it seems like half of us don’t care. Student opinion and knowledge about what’s going on should be the first thing [considered] when making the decision."
Students can voice their opinions by attending the SGA Senate meetings, which are held Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. in the DUC Legacy Room, room 376.