SOFTBALL WINS CONFERENCE
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With summer break coming up in two weeks, Editor in Chief Carolyn Tiry gives tips on the best parks to visit, such as Big Falls, in the city and county of Eau Claire.
With the help of sophomore pitcher Emma Wishau, who threw a complete game against UW-Whitewater on Sunday, the Blugolds clinched the WIAC conference title.
>> CURRENTS, 5A
THE SPECTATOR The official student newspaper of the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire since 1923
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Vol. 90 No. 28
Student debt major issue, expert says
Interest rates on loans could double in June By Alex Zank STAFF WRITER
Student loans have played an important role in junior Charlie Erickson’s decision making. “I was at Milwaukee for architecture and it’s a seven- or eight-year program,” Erickson said. “One of my friends (in the program) got a job in Chicago. She’s making something around $35 to $40,000 a year, entry level … She is working more than 60 hours a week. I make more as a server.” He decided to change his major because he worried his future career would not provide enough income to pay off his student loans. His friend’s story along with the student loan debt he had to worry about made him rethink his career choice; he is now studying public relations and advertising. Erickson is like many other Erickson students attending college who are forced to make life decisions based in part on student loans. The main issue, according to Eau Claire’s Director of Financial Aid Kathleen Sahlhoff, is the sheer size of student loan debt. She said there is a larger quantity of federal student loans than there have ever been. Sahlhoff said the amount of student loan debt is now larger than credit card debt. What is being dealt with in Congress, however, is a little more targeted than the subject of student loans as a whole, she said. “What’s being discussed right at the moment is the amount of interest that students are going to be paying on one kind of federal student loan,” Sahlhoff said. See LOANS, page 2A
ELIZABETH JACKSON/The Spectator
Albany Potts Jr. helps Shane Mitchell, both members of Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe, with dressing in his regalia at Saturday’s Honoring Education Traditional Powwow held in Zorn Arena. This was the first time a several years the powwow has not been a competitive one.
UWEC uses agencies to get internationals University pays about $2,100 per student; goal is to get to 300 by fall of 2013 By Haley Zblewski NEWS EDITOR
Some UW System universities, including UW-Eau Claire, pay international agencies to help them bring more international students to their campus. Currently, there are 10 international students at Eau Claire who were recruited through agents and 34 overall since Eau Claire started using agencies in 2009, said Director of the Center for International Education Karl Markgraf. For years, the UW System did not allow universities to use agencies, Markgraf said. The UW System changed the rules in 2008 and UW campuses are now free to work with agents to recruit more international students. “If we did not work with these agencies, we would not see these students at this university,” Markgraf said. There are two fees that the univer-
sity pays the agencies, and the money comes from the non-resident tuition pool through the university, Markgraf said. Markgraf said one of the fees that the university pays is between $300 and $400. That is the cost of 10 percent of what the student will pay for the instructional fee for the intensive English program. The other fee is about $1700, which is the cost of 10 percent of the non-resident tuition fee the student will pay. The student still pays Eau Claire the full cost of these fees. Markgraf said there are a number of reasons to want more international stu-
dents on campus. The first of those is to increase diversity at Eau Claire. “Though we send about 25 percent of our students on a study abroad program, that means 75 percent of our students are not having that experience,” he said. “We want them to have a rich, cross-cultural learning experience here in the United States so they become more knowledgeable about other countries, other cultures and other peoples.” The other part has to do with the revenue, Markgraf said. “The non-resident tuition revenue is very important to all American universities, not just UW-Eau Claire,” he said. “More and more American universities are seeking to enroll more international students because that does enhance our revenue.” See AGENCIES, page 2A
City extends benefits for same-sex couples
Lone council member argues against act because of cost, timeliness of decision By Anna Soldner COPY EDITOR
Until recently, gay, lesbian and transgendered Eau Claire city employees and their partners could only receive single-person health insurance coverage. As of April 24, Eau Claire became the fourth city in Wisconsin to extend health care benefits to same-sex couples employed by the city. In the plan, domestic partnerships can qualify for a limited family health insurance plan, a right that was previously granted exclusively to married couples.
City councilman and author of the proposal Andrew Werthmann said the approval has sparked an ongoing discussion about equality in the workplace and has set a statewide precedent. “I think that when you look across the state and you consider the fact that Eau Claire is the fourth city to pass such a measure that recognizes domestic partners, it speaks volumes to the national discussion and our state discussion about what’s fair in the workplace,” he said. After two hours of debate, the final decision was met with
a 10-1 vote in favor. Councilwoman Jackie Pavelski was the lone dissenting vote. She said she believed the proposal was rushed and she didn’t have adequate information about the costs and Werthmann implications to make an informed decision. “My issue was never about fairness or equality and not having insurance,” she said.
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“To be honest with you, I’m not opposed to it, I’m just opposed to the process that we went through on this one. I don’t know what the urgency was.” Alex Jacques, a senior music education major and member of the LGBT community, said he regards the decision as a “brave effort” made in the Eau Claire City Council. Despite the proposal being introduced and passed in less than a week, Jacques said he believed the extension of benefits still felt belated. See BENEFITS, page 2A
Be a biker Guest columnist Bridget Cooke discusses the benefits of biking to class
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CONTINUED FROM FRONT News Editors: Emily Gresbrink & Haley Zblewski
2A • Thursday, May 3, 2012
from page 1A
Most aid is in form of loans, official says
The interest rate on subsidized loans is currently 3.4 percent, but is set to double on July 1. There is a rare bipartisan agreement on the need to prevent this increase, according to Sahlhoff, but the parties are split on how to fund it. Republicans want to cut part of the new healthcare law in order to pay for keeping the rate down, while Democrats favor increasing taxes on high-income earners or oil companies. Beyond the current political battle of the subject still lies the fact that more students are taking out loans than ever. Sahlhoff partly attributes the increase in the amount of loans to the way the government both at the federal and state level are providing financial aid. “At a national level we (used to have) a goal of funding college expenses for students who needed help to go to school with a triad approach,” she said. This triad approach consisted of an equal focus on grants, loans and
work experience. “We’ve lost that balance that used to be there, and now the vast majority of increases in aid that we see is all through the loan programs.” As a result of the increased emphasis on the loan aspect, as well as a dramatic decrease in state funding to higher education, Sahlhoff said that students and their families are picking up more of the costs than ever. “Fifteen years ago the students coming to UW-Eau Claire were subsidized at (about) 67 percent of their costs,” she said. “And now that’s down to more like 27 percent.” Freshman Jessica Sorensen said investment in education and making college more affordable should be a priority. This includes keeping interest rates for federal loans from doubling. “Education is so important,” Sorenson said. “If they increase the interest rates by too much, you don’t know how it is going to affect people.”
CORRECTIONS In the April 26 issue of The Spectator, in the article “Sexual assault awareness event held at local park,” Amanda Leiknes was incorrectly identified as Annika Leiknes.
The Spectator strives for accuracy. If you find any mistakes or have any questions, feel free to call (715) 836-4416 or e-mail the newspaper at email@example.com.
S PECTATOR Address: 104 Hibbard Hall, Eau Claire, WI 54701 Telephone Number: (715) 836-4416 Fax Number: (715) 836-3829 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org The Spectator (UPS 509-820) is published Thursdays during the school year except for vacations and holidays. Distribution on campus is free. Annual subscriptions are mailed for $37. Second-class postage is paid at Eau Claire, WI 54701. The Spectator is a university publication published under the authority granted to the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Publication costs are paid by the State of Wisconsin under contracts awarded by State Printing Section, State Department of Administration, State of Wisconsin, as provided in the State Printing Operational Bulletin 9-24, September, 1970. The Spectator, vol. 89, is published at Leader Printing, 1960 County TK 00., Chippewa Falls, Wis., 54729. The Spectator is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press and MCT Direct.
from page 1A
LGBT students, professors say benefits are long overdue “Anything related to the rights or privileges as American citizens, and a decision made in favor of that is by no means rushed, instead I would argue that it is far overdue,” he said. UW-Eau Claire English professor Bob Nowlan and his partner are married and have been together for over 13 years. Nowlan shared similar sentiments to Jacques, saying the LGBT community has worked together with straight supporters for years and has waited a “long, long time for these equitable opportunities.” Because the number of gay and lesbian employees who will sign up for plans to cover their partners is unknown, Pavelski cited cost as a major concern. “It is not just clearly a fairness issue that is simplistically defined by many,” Pavelski said. “It is about a cost issue, it is about some of the unanswered questions, it is about defining the state registry and why other cities have put conditions on it. So I think all of that needs to be reviewed.”
In defense of that argument, Werthmann noted that there is constant rotation of folks in and out of the healthcare plan, meaning the cost argument is both inaccurate and improbable. “I don’t think cost is really going to be a huge issue and there’s flexibility in our budget and in the specific department budget in our city,” he said. “And that flexibility and the rotation of people in and Pavelski out of the health plan I think is going to make it so we won’t blow a hole in the budget by any means.” Nowlan said plenty of evidence exists out there about the social benefits of offering equitable opportunities to LGBT employees and their families. “It already costs to provide it for opposite-sex employees and I think you certainly can’t put a cost on matters of fairness and
justness,” he said. “It’s more of a question of equality than cost.” Jacques said to him, cost seemed to be secondary in the grand scheme of the matter. “I think it’s pretty silly to be that they would bring up the idea of cost,” he said. “I don’t even know how many families there are that this will apply to, but I think the bottom line here is that this is in the policy, this is on the books, and that means a lot for Eau Claire city’s integrity.” Jacques and Nowlan both said that although the extension of rights doesn’t directly affect them, they are pleased to see Eau Claire make progress for LGBT rights. “Although it doesn’t affect me — I’m a student so I don’t have a family or I’m not in a domestic partnership with my boyfriend — but to know that there are small local efforts being made,” Jacques said. “This means a lot and it makes me really proud to be going to the school where I am.” The change includes a oneyear contract that will be implemented starting July 1, 2012.
from page 1A
System wants to increase universities’ ability to recruit, official says
Eau Claire currently has 254 international students enrolled. The university’s goal, based on a call from Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich, is to get to 300 by the fall of 2013. Another part of the reason Eau Claire wants to increase its number of international students is to make up for state budget cuts, Markgraf said. “It’s not a co- Giroux incidence that that call from the chancellor came in conjunction with the shortfall in budget for all of the state universities,” Markgraf said. Markgraf said he thought the most expedient way to make up for the budget shortfall is to increase international student enrollments. David Giroux, executive director of communications and external relations for the System, said there is great interest among many of the UW institutions to expand its international reach, and that using outside agencies is one of the least costly ways to do so. “We want to provide the flexibility to recruit, but also make sure it’s done correctly,” Giroux said. The System’s policy follows the guidelines of NAFSA: Association of International Educators to make
sure System institutions exercise care “when contracting relationships with organizations or agencies which recruit international students on a per capita fee basis to ensure that such arrangements are in the best interests of students.” Giroux said the policy is in place to make sure the integrity of the System and the degree it provides is protected. Because it’s banned in the U.S. to use agencies for domestic student recruitment, organizations like American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers have questioned the ethics of using them to recruit international students. Markgraf said the process is quite ethical if universities work with ethical agencies, and Eau Claire makes sure to do so. Eau Claire works with an agency called International Consultants for Education and Fairs. The have their own code of ethics and work with agencies all over the world. They organize workshops throughout the world and Markgraf attends them to meet agencies. ICEF makes sure the agents they work with are reputable, have a high standard of practice and are insured and licensed in their own country, Markgraf said. The CIE also does background checks on their agents, Markgraf said. They will call universities that the agent has worked with in the
past to make sure they do their job properly. He said it’s the culture in other parts of the world that there are agencies that advise people about studying abroad and to find the best fitting university. “So if you can imagine that you’re a mom or a dad in Shanghai or Rio de Janeiro, you don’t speak English, you don’t know of any American universities … but you want your son or daughter to have an American education,” Markgraf said. “How do you know how to find a good university for your son or daughter?” Currently Eau Claire works with two agencies that they found through ICEF, one in China and one in the Middle East. Markgraf said they plan to expand this number. “We would like to have somebody working for us all over the world so we have good students from all Markgraf over the world so we can bring a real diverse student body to Eau Claire,” he said. This March, Markgraf attended a workshop to identify some agents in Russia and central Asia and in September Markgraf said he will be looking for some in South America.
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