UWM student denied in-state tuition based on same-sex marriage legalities

  • popobtc

    Posts: 74

    Oct 23, 2012 3:18 AM GMT
    UW-Milwaukee denied in-state tuition to Jorge Quintero, the spouse of a Wisconsin resident, based on the 2006 constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in Wisconsin. Quintero appealed the decision in August but it was not reversed. Unable to afford the higher tuition costs, he dropped out after attending his first week of classes.

    According to the Bursar’s Office, the UWM tuition rate for full-time non-residents is $18,915.12 for the 2012 academic year. That’s $9,728.50 more than it costs for Wisconsin residents to attend the university.

    In late July, Quintero received a letter from residency specialist Debbie Freiberg stating he was ineligible to receive in-state tuition. Freiberg sent an email shortly thereafter, asking the exact reasons for his denial.

    This was a surprise to Quintero, who had been accepted into several programs at the Peck School of the Arts. He had also recently moved from Chicago into a home just four blocks from the UWM campus to be closer to the university and to his is partner Dr. Robert Schneidewend, a medical resident at a Milwaukee area hospital.

    “Right when I got the letter, I read it. Then I called her and said, ‘no, there has to be a mistake,’” Quintero said. “”I read the law in Wisconsin, and clearly I fall within the parameters of the law.’” However, Frieberg said on the phone and again in her email that Quintero did not qualify under any of the state statutes that are used to determine residency.

    “You do not qualify for the work exemption as gay marriages are not recognized in the state of Wisconsin as legal,” Freiberg’s email said. “Since this is the law and statues are what we use to determine residency for tuition purposes, you do not qualify.”

    When the Post called for an interview, Freiberg declined to comment.

    In the email, Freiberg also told Quintero that although his partner is a full time medical resident at a Milwaukee area hospital, he was actually considered to be a student. In order for Quintero to receive the spousal exemption, Schneidewend needed to be a full time employee.

    “They told us that my partner was a student, and not a full time employee, which is incredibly insulting, because my partner is a doctor,” Quintero said. “He has a doctorate degree, and he is a practicing licensed physician in the state of Wisconsin.”

    Quintero said he felt like he and Schneidewend were being lied to.

    “We were given the run around,” Quintero said. “It just seemed like they didn’t want to deal with us anymore.”

    Frieberg urged him not to appeal, and instead advised him to take the year off and re-apply after a period of 12 months when he would be considered a Wisconsin resident. Quintero said he felt Freiberg was unsympathetic.

    “[She] basically told me that I have no rights and that I shouldn’t appeal,” Quintero said. “I have the right to appeal, and I’m going to appeal.”

    Quintero believed he had prepared for the hearing with documents defending his marriage to Scheidewend, and highlighting his artistic abilities. Quintero also included documents from the Supreme Court vs. Mayo Clinic, a case in which the Supreme Court had ruled that medical residents are considered full time employees when it came to paying taxes on their wages.

    However, at the end of the hearing, he was told by Laura Lenz-Perkins of UWM’s Enrollment Services that he was defending his marriage when the problem was that his partner was not a full time employee. The decision to deny Quintero of in-state tuition was not reversed at the hearing. Perkins did not respond to the Post’s attempts for a comment.

    “I didn’t know that I had been denied by the committee until after rehearsal was done,” Quintero said. “I had to go to every choreographer and voice teacher that had met me and wanted to work with me, and tell them that I would not be working with them. It was the most demeaning thing I had ever done.”

    Dr. Valerie Errante, Voice Area Chair for the Peck School of the Arts, said the voice faculty was excited when Jorge auditioned in August.

    “He is a very talented man with an exciting voice,” Errand said. “We were so disappointed that in the second week of school, he was forced to withdraw from all of his classes, including the musical.”

    Quintero was notified by Lenz-Perkins two weeks after the hearing that he was eligible for the Midwest-Student-Exchange tuition rate of $13,232.40 for the academic year. However, Quintero said he had already been through heavy stress, and that settling wasn’t an option.

    “We gave them an opportunity to show the rest of the world that discriminatory statute does not have a place at a higher learning institution,” Quintero said. “The university really fumbled their chance to make a statement.”

    Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Laliberte was informed of the situation by
    the director of the UWM LGBT Center as well as the executive director of the LGBT group Equality Wisconsin. According to Quintero, the two met last Wednesday. However, due to privacy regulations, Laliberte declined to answer specific questions about the meeting.

    Laliberte did say that Quintero contacted the chancellor’s office to request a meeting. He also said that the chancellor thought that Laliberte would be best person to meet with Quintero because the areas of enrollment management who dealt with Quintero’s case report to him as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

    “I believe that as a result my meeting with Jorge and Jason Burns [from Equality Wisconsin], we were all able to better understand the situation,” Laliberte said. “[We] were able to work on a path to find a positive resolution.”

    Quintero said that during the meeting with Laliberte, he heard words of compassion for the first time since he had begun the application process.

    “He was incredibly apologetic and empathetic, and everything we ever wanted to hear from the university, the vice chancellor showed us,” Quintero said. “I mean, it really sort of reinforced my desire to be at the university, because I wasn’t going to go back.”

    Quintero said he is hoping to return to UWM in January, since he has already lost one semester. Although he has requested another hearing, Quintero has not yet been granted in-state tuition.

    “I’m really hoping that we re-petition the committee based on my 15 years of dance experience and my career as a performer,” Quintero said. “I don’t want to sit out for a whole year. I’m wasting time.”


    Shame this happened at my school...Another Scott Walker victory
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 23, 2012 5:23 AM GMT
    This will happen in all states if a Republican is elected.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Oct 23, 2012 12:54 PM GMT
    not that the situation doesn't suck, but this guy seems like an idiot for believing he could get in-state tuition in wisconsin for a marriage not recognized in the state.
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 22661

    Oct 23, 2012 2:35 PM GMT
    TheBizMan saidThis will happen in all states if a Republican is elected.
    Not necessarily.
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    Oct 23, 2012 2:41 PM GMT
    roadbikeRob said
    TheBizMan saidThis will happen in all states if a Republican is elected.
    Not necessarily.

    Why not necessarily? And why should this happen in ANY State?
  • roadbikeRob

    Posts: 22661

    Oct 23, 2012 2:42 PM GMT
    Because some states already have gay marriage as the law of the land.
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    Oct 23, 2012 2:57 PM GMT
    roadbikeRob saidBecause some states already have gay marriage as the law of the land.

    Yes...law of the land indeed
    because state "law of the land" can not be superseded by Federal Law.
  • popobtc

    Posts: 74

    Nov 12, 2012 9:31 PM GMT
    Update: UWM has decided to give him a grant that will reduce the cost of his tuition to the normal instate tuition costs.