Whereas, each institution shall do the utmost to implement the letter and spirit of Wis. Stats. § 36.09(5), as interpreted by the Board of Regents and Wisconsin Courts; and
Whereas, the fundamental thrust of § 36.09(5) is to insure that students are viable participants in university affairs, subject to the responsibilities of the board, the president, the chancellor and the faculty; and
Whereas, students have primary responsibility in the formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services and interests, as defined by each institution, as well as responsibility for the disposition of those segregated university fees that constitute substantial support for campus student activities; and
Whereas, students shall have the right to select their representatives to participate in institutional governance, which means that students may choose the students who will be appointed by appropriate authorities to participate in institutional and faculty committees as determined by institutional policies and procedures and in accordance with the interpretation of the statute by the Wisconsin Courts.
Therefore, be it resolved that, upon the recommendation of the President of the System, the document entitled “Guidelines for Implementation of 36.09(5), Wis. Stats.,” dated November, 1986, be approved.
Wisconsin is one of a few states in the nation to provide students with a statutory role in university governance. Wisconsin Statutes, § 36.09(5), adopted in 1974, states:
36.09(5) STUDENTS. The students of each institution or campus subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president, the chancellor and the faculty shall be active participants in the immediate governance of and policy development for such institutions. As such, students shall have primary responsibility for the formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services and interests. Students in consultation with the chancellor and subject to the final confirmation of the board shall have the responsibility for the disposition of those student fees which constitute substantial support for campus student activities. The students of each institution or campus shall have the right to organize themselves in a manner they determine and to select their representatives to participate in institutional governance.
The Board adopted “Interim Guidelines” for the implementation of § 36.09(5) in 1974 (Policy Document 74-11), and a policy for implementation in 1975 (Policy Document 75-10), which interpreted the statutory language in the context of overlapping and sometimes conflicting interests of students, faculty, and administrators of the System institutions. The policies outline a general framework for interpreting the section, delegate responsibility for implementing the section to the Chancellors, and provide an appeals process so that students who believe an administrative action is not in the Spirit of § 36.09(5) can bring such grievances to the Board of Regents for resolution.
After the Interim Guidelines were passed, each institution conducted a study of the students’ role in shared governance and devised a plan to implement the statute. These plans were submitted to System Administration in December, 1975 and were updated in 1978. The plans may be amended and improved by each institution through the governance process at any time without review by System Administration or the Board of Regents.
The implementation plans vary considerably from institution to institution. They vary because there are differences in the student bodies, in the interests of the student governments and organizations, in the academic and extracurricular programs, and in the governance structures of the institutions. For example, most institutions have separate faculty and student senates, but a few have university-wide senates on which students participate in addition to the student senate. Each institution also has a different configuration of committees, in substance and number, with different numbers and proportions of faculty and student members. Two examples may clarify this point:
- At several institutions, child care is a program for students, supported by student fees, while other institutions provide this service for students, staff, and faculty, and yet others contract with outside agencies for child care; and
- The problems facing the parking committee at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee would be quite different from those of a parking committee at the University of Wisconsin-Colleges Baraboo County. Whereas, the students at Milwaukee might want a large number of students on the committee, students at Baraboo might not see parking as a problem warranting much attention.
In short, it would be difficult for the Board of Regents to devise a specific structure or to mandate involvement at certain levels in certain issues that would be acceptable to students at each institution. The details of institutional governance are best left to the parties involved. Nevertheless, it is appropriate for the board to set forth some specific directions and general principles to guide the institutions in the proper implementation of the statute. The guidelines in this document, which primarily represent an update of the 1974 Interim Guidelines, seek to fulfill that purpose.
The fundamental thrust of § 36.09(5) is to insure that students are viable participants in university affairs. When the implementation plans were last review in 1978, the reports indicated that each unit had implemented § 36.09(5) in accordance with the Regents guidelines and judicial interpretations of the language. Plans at each institution operate in the ways envisioned in the Regents’ Guidelines.
The Board recognizes that at some institutions the students may not be fully satisfied with the implementation plan. The plans are documents negotiated between students, faculty, academic staff, and administrators and therefore may not be exactly what each party would want. Thus, Regent Policy Document 75-10 afforded students, faculty, or administrators an opportunity to appeal any substantial difference of opinion involving the spirit or letter of § 36.09(5) to the Board of Regents:
In the event an irreconcilable difference of opinion develops at any institution between or among student organizations, the faculty, and the Chancellor, over whether or not a particular campus policy or procedure meets the letter and spirit of Section 36.09(5), then any of the contending parties may request through the President’s Office that the Regents review the dispute and take such action as may be appropriate to its resolution. The request for review should be made in writing, and should include the evidence and reasoning upon which the request for review is made. Upon receiving such a request through the President, the Board shall determine whether or not to provide a review.
This procedure has been used once since it was adopted in 1975. In 1977, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Association appealed the segregated fee budget that was recommended by the Chancellor to the Board because it differed substantially from the students’ own submission. The Board supported the Student Association’s position. Based on evidence to date, System Administration has no reason to believe that this procedure has been inadequate to deal with disagreements about the implementation of the statute. Minor changes in the procedure are provided herein in order to provide more expeditious resolution of student concerns.
A. General Principles
Implementation of § 36.09(5) is a responsibility delegated to the Chancellors or their designees in consultation with the students, faculty, and academic and university staff of their institutions.
2. Active Participation:
Student input to immediate governance and policy development of the institutions will be given serious attention and consideration. As active participants there must be a meaningful opportunity for input so that student ideas are received and considered before decisions are made and the meaningful opportunity must include timely notice to students of pending issues concerning immediate governance and policy development of the institutions. The requirement of § 36.09(5) that students be “active participants in the immediate governance of and policy development for” their institution also includes the provision that student participation be “subject to the powers and responsibilities of the board, the president, the chancellor, and the faculty.” For this reason, “active participation” will necessarily be defined to an extent in the procedures by which the several agencies of shared or faculty governance for each institution receive student recommendations and opinion. The mechanisms for active participation may be several, ranging from opportunity for students or student organizations to be heard, to non-voting representation on certain policy-making committees, to voting representation on such committees.
3. Selection of student representatives:
Section 36.09(5) provides that students “shall have the right to organize themselves in a manner they determine and to select their representatives to participate in institutional governance.” This language was Interpreted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to mean that the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Association, under its constitution, had the right to select representatives to institution-wide committees as the “students” in § 36.09(5). UW-Milwaukee Student Association v. Baum (1976) 74 Wis. 2d 283. While this case is subject to various interpretations where the students have chosen forms of organization that differ from that at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, it is clear from the decision that the choice of representatives must rest with the students under a structure determined by and agreed to by the students. The statute was interpreted further by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to mean that students cannot be required to submit more names into nomination than there are student positions to fill on committees. UW-Oshkosh Student Association v. Board of Regents (App. 1979) 90 Wis. 2d 79.
The form and procedure for assuring appropriate student representation shall be determined by the students at each institution in consultation with the Chancellor, faculty, and academic staff, with reference to the particular governance or policy making function being performed, and with attention to the most appropriate student constituency for achieving student participation. Under existing university laws and regulations, the agencies of shared or faculty governance are several, and the procedures for establishing membership on such agencies are varied, ranging from appointment, to ex officio designation, to election by a defined constituency. Where student membership on a given policy development agency is authorized by institutional rules, the procedures for establishing such membership also shall be defined, with the right to select representatives vested in the appropriate student group consistent with judicial interpretation and using a method agreed to by the students. The size and diversity of the student body and the history of procedures for achieving student participation are important factors in the determinations to be made. Where students have organized for participation and representation below the institution-wide level (such as colleges, schools, divisions, and departments), the form and procedure for assuring appropriate representation in a unit shall be determined by the students in that unit.
4. Primary Responsibility:
Because § 36.09(5) grants to students primary responsibility (subject to the responsibilities and powers of the board, the president, the chancellor, and the faculty) “for the formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services, and interests,” each institution, through consultation with its student government association, should identify the student agencies (organizations, committees, councils, etc.), or agencies with a preponderance of student membership to whom responsibility can be delegated for initiation and review of policies of a particular category. Where no formal student group exists in a particular area, procedures shall be devised by the student government association to address the appointment of student participants.
Primary responsibility means that students have the obligation and authority to initiate policies concerning student life, services, and interests, and to review existing and proposed policies in these areas before they are amended or adopted by the other constituencies of the university. Where approval of such policies rests with the faculty or administration, the basis for changing or denying the student recommendations shall be substantial and shall be communicated to the recommending student agency in a timely manner. Institutions, in consultation with the student government association, shall define the area of “student life, services, and interests” with particularity, observing that this area cannot by definition include those areas assigned in §§ 36.09(1), 36.09(2), 36.09(3), 36.09(4), and 36.09(4m) as primary responsibilities of the regents, president, chancellor, faculty, and academic staff. The fact that areas are not a primary responsibility of students does not, however, preclude their active participation. It is presumed that the membership of committees dealing primarily with formulation and review of policies concerning student life, services, and interests as defined by the institution will have a majority of students.
5. Segregated University Fees (SUF):
As a specific stipulation of the statute, students “shall have the responsibility for the disposition of’ allocable portions of the revenue received from student fees. Students, acting through the SUF Allocations Committee (SUF AC) or other designated institution-wide body, shall be responsible for formulation of the allocable SUF budget, subject to the responsibilities of the chancellor. The basis for denying or changing the student decision shall be substantial and shall be communicated by the chancellor to the recommending student agency in a timely manner. The chancellor shall discuss any changes s/he recommends to the SUF budget for student consideration and decision before the chancellor forwards the institution’s budget to System Administration and the Regents.
The chancellors are responsible for administering funds received from student fees. Specifically, no expenditure of such funds can be authorized except with the approval of the chancellor through the processes established for any expenditure of public funds held by the University System or its institutions. [University of Wisconsin System rules concerning the approval and administration of segregated fees are contained in the UW System Administrative Policies (SYS), see e.g., SYS 820, Segregated University Fees.]
B. Appeal of Issues
In the event an irreconcilable difference of opinion develops at any institution between or among student organizations, the faculty, the academic or university staff, and the Chancellor, over whether or not a particular campus policy or procedure meets the letter and spirit of § 36.09(5), and after institutional procedures have been exhausted, any of the contending parties may request the President to review the dispute and take such action as may be appropriate to its resolution. The request for review shall be made in writing, and shall include the evidence and reasoning upon which the request for review is made. If a decision is necessary, the President shall render the decision within 20 working days of receiving the request for review. Upon receiving the decision of the President, any of the contending parties may request a review of the President’s decision by the Board of Regents by writing to the President of the Board. Upon receiving such a request, the Board shall determine whether or not to provide a review.
If irreconcilable differences of judgment on the uses of allocable student fee income develop between a chancellor and the student organization charged with responsibility for initiating recommendations in this regard, the views of both shall be brought to the Regents through the President’s Office in a timely manner and the Regents shall determine the distribution of such resources for the particular institution. System Administration may attempt to mediate and resolve the dispute before it is forwarded to the Board.
History: Res. 3666 adopted 11/07/86; supersedes Regent Policy Documents 74-11 and 75-10. Res. 5452, adopted 04/06/1990, amended Regent Policy Document 30-3. Res. 10835, adopted 03/09/2017, authorized technical corrections. Res. 10956, adopted 11/09/2017, amended Regent Policy Document 30-3. (See also Regent Policy Document 30-6)
SYS 820, Segregated University Fees (formerly F50)
SYS 822, Student Services Funding (formerly G15)
[UW System Administrative policies are included for reference and are separate from Regent Policy Documents adopted by the Board.]