West students deserve easier access to classes


Photo provided to The Clarion

Madison College’s West Campus is set to close when its lease ends following the spring semester.

Clarion Editorial Board

Barring unforeseen circumstances it appears Madison College will be closing the West Campus after the spring semester. Full details are still being worked out and more information will be presented to the District Board in the spring.

We understand that West Campus is expensive; the cost of rent is $2 million dollars. Closing West when the current lease expires in June appears to be a financially prudent decision. Those classes currently at West will be moved to and/or combined with classes at Truax, Downtown, and South.

Most of those attending West live closer to it than those other campuses. Forty-seven percent of students attending West live within five miles of the campus. Seventy-one percent live within 10 miles. The 2,141 students taking classes at West will be forced to travel much farther to continue their education. Depending on the route it can take an additional 12 to 20 miles to get from West to Truax.

The college has recognized that long distances are detrimental to the learning process. That’s why we have regional campuses in Fort Atkinson, Portage, Watertown,and Reedsburg. Some of these campuses are actually closer to Truax than Truax is to students living on the west side of Dane county. From Mount Horeb to Truax is 35 miles, while Fort Atkinson is only 32 miles from Truax.

Another factor that the college has not addressed is the additional transportation costs incurred by students. The college may be saving $2 million a year, but much of that amount will be spent by students on gasoline?

Many of these students are also working full time, attending classes in the evenings. Will they be able to make it from their workplaces to these further campuses during the evening rush hour? Even accepting the mileage increase, traveling from the west side to the east side in an attempt to make a 5:30 p.m. class can take over an hour.

We are not calling for a full-fledged campus on the west side. We don’t need a cafeteria, advisors, OneCard office or even a library. Those college services are accessed by most students on an as-needed basis and requiring students to make use of them at a distant campus is reasonable. What we do need is classrooms. Perhaps the college could partner with Memorial or Middleton High School to share classroom space. Or unused conference rooms at a large local employer such as Epic, or at University Research Park.

We urge those involved in the West Campus transition to find a location to continue having classes on the west side of Madison.