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ASM Passes Vote of No Confidence in Vice Chancellor Laurent Heller and Referendum on COVID-19 Student Relief Fund

Posted: 2021-02-15 02:33:06   Expiration: 2050-02-23 02:33:06

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ASM Passes Vote of No Confidence in Vice Chancellor Laurent Heller
and Referendum on COVID-19 Student Relief Fund

MADISON, WI — On Tuesday, the ASM Student Council passed multiple pieces of legislation as well as a unanimous Vote of No Confidence in Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration. The passed vote by ASM leaders is as follows:

“As a direct result of Laurent Heller blocking the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund on two separate occasions, sharing intentionally misleading legal arguments to maintain his job rather than protect students, refusing to meet with students impacted by those employed under him, and only answering to those recognized as having power, he has failed in carrying out his shared governance duties as outlined in Wisconsin State Statute 36.09(3) and Wisconsin State Statute 36.09(5). Laurent Heller has rejected shared governance, which states that decisions must be made in a collaborative fashion that puts the primary responsibility of decision making in the hands of those most impacted and allows students to participate in the administration of this University. We declare No Confidence in Laurent Heller.”

ASM also passed legislation to amend Regent Policy Document 14-6 “Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation” of the University of Wisconsin system to include “caste” along with categories already outlined in the section on “Students,” namely, “race, color, creed, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ancestry, disability, pregnancy, marital or parental status.” ASM further requests for the UW-Madison administration to meet with the TAA International Student Caucus to discuss this matter.

ASM also reiterated its demand for a Moral Restart and reinforces its commitment to protecting students’ and campus workers’ health and wellbeing with the passage of legislation focused on workers’ rights in a pandemic. With this, the Student Council calls on the university and administration to prioritize employment and payment continuity for all workers and extend the

$15 per hour wage floor to student workers, resume hazard payments to house fellows, commit to a budget-building process that involves campus unions, improve the process for students and workers to gain exemptions to the COVID testing requirements on campus, create an exemption to COVID testing requirements to ensure that workers and students who would not otherwise be on campus are not forced into situations with potential exposure, and compensate instructors for the extra work required by shifting modes of instruction. ASM asks that university administrators meet-and-confer with the elected leadership of campus labor unions and give workers a real voice in crafting the policies that govern their workplaces and livelihoods.

Representative Lampron showed optimism with the quick passage of the legislation: “Empowering workers' unions is a critical part of pursuing social justice in our campus community. I'm proud of our collaboration with the TAA and other campus unions to create legislation reinforcing ASM's commitment to protecting students’ and campus workers’ health and wellbeing.”

ASM also cares about homeless individuals on and near campus and passed emergency housing legislation. With this, ASM demands that Governor Evers use his emergency powers to authorize the use of public buildings, including University of Wisconsin buildings, to provide housing to homeless individuals and directs the University of Wisconsin– Madison to make the Chancellor's House and President’s house available for emergency housing for students across the UW System. To keep campus safe with this procedure, ASM directs the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Wisconsin System to make COVID-19 testing available to all who make use of University buildings for emergency housing.

ASM also demands SHIP restructure its payment periods to be either on a monthly or semesterly plan that corresponds to the time when the semester begins and ends and that the summer payment period be entirely separate that of the spring and fall semesters. If UW-Madison does not comply with the requested policy change, ASM demands for all international students to be offered refunds for any summer month SHIP payments in which they are not in the United States.

ASM Nominations Board Chair Owino had this to say about the SHIPS legislation passage: “I hope the passing of the legislation acts as a representation of the students out there who need insurance payment options that work for them.”

Lastly, ASM passed legislation to create a referendum on the Covid-19 Student Relief Fund to appear on the ballot for ASM Spring Elections. This referendum will be listed on the ballot for the upcoming ASM Spring elections and reads as follows:

“The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) created a $2 million COVID-19 Student Relief Fund to provide rental and utility assistance for students, with priority given to students who have experienced recent unexpected losses of income, experienced severe rent burden due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participated in scholarship programs that serve underrepresented students, or not been covered under the CARES Act or HEERF funding (including undocumented students, DACA recipients, and international students). The Relief Fund is composed of unspent funds from the ASM Internal Budget and ASM Reserves and would be administered by the Tenant Resource Center. Despite ASM leaders creating a proposal that complies with all UW System policies, Wisconsin State Statutes, and ASM bylaws, the administration, including Vice Chancellor Laurent Heller, has blocked the fund on multiple occasions. This referendum calls upon the UW–Madison administration to allow ASM to provide rental and utility aid to address student eviction and homelessness through the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund.

Do you support the implementation of the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund?”

Chair Mitnick had this to say in response to recent objections to the Covid-19 Student Relief Fund: “The student leaders fighting for the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund have been barred from meeting with Vice Chancellor Reesor and Vice Chancellor Heller. Chancellor Blank has also refused to meet with students regarding the COVID-19 Student Relief Fund. Administration have now stated they will not attend Student Council meetings. Last Friday, members of ASM and the BIPOC Coalition met with Dean Olstad to discuss steps moving forward on this front.

We asked how we could work within SYS 820 to achieve the goal of assisting students during the pandemic. Dean Olstad called our attempts at protecting fellow students "disgraceful." At the end of this meeting, we requested for ways that the Dean and her colleagues suggest accumulated segregated fee balanced be used in a manner applicable by state statutes and policy. No answer was provided. Further, we offered a compromise, in which the University set up a fund without ASM funds. Again, no answer was provided. As of this present moment, the University is sitting on nearly $20 million in HERF II funds that it is NOT disseminating to students. Rather, UW is allocating the bare minimum required by the federal government. This is not to mention that the Education Department outlines how these funds are available to any student regardless of status, whereas UW-Madison has publicly imposed restrictions to students who can receive this aid.

UW-Madison is making a choice to not provide undocumented students, DACA recipients, international students, and those ineligible for financial aid with assistance. I am disturbed that UW has not only subjected its students to highly corrupt lobbying practices on behalf of its administration but is publicly lying to the media by claiming that we are the ones unwilling to work with them. We want to come to the table and work together through shared governance.”

The next Student Council meeting will be on Tuesday, February 23rd at 7:00 p.m. via a Zoom meeting.

-- Associated Students of Madison: Jacob Broehm