According to an email sent to the student by Vice Chancellor Michael Laliberte, UW-Milwaukee is granting Jorge Quintero in-state tuition.
UWM awarded Quintero the Regents Equity Award, given to students who show exceptional merit in their fields of study, and would not otherwise qualify for the in-state tuition rate. Quintero will begin attending UWM’s Peck School of the Arts as a vocal music major at the start of the spring semester in January.
After just one week of classes, Quintero was told he was ineligible to receive in-state tuition. He was first told that Wisconsin does not recognize gay marriage, and was later informed that his husband, a medical resident at a Milwaukee area hospital, is not a full time state employee.
Quintero said he and his husband felt they were given the run around by UWM for the reason behind his denial.
Louis Weisberg, the Editor-in-Chief of the Wisconsin Gazette, was informed of Quintero’s situation, and turned to Jason Burns of Equality Wisconsin for help. Burns, the Executive Director of the LGBT advocacy group, began working with Quintero in attempts to contest the university’s decision.
“[Weisberg] started explaining to me all of the inconsistencies that happened. The story kept changing at that is what really bothered me,” Burns said. “It was just odd because UWM is such a welcoming place for LGBT students, and I was really surprised that this was happening.”
Quintero said he feels the law banning gay marriage in Wisconsin is not progressive, and that it does not correlate with the movement of the United States.
“It’s a criminal offense to be gay and married in the state of Wisconsin,” Quintero said. “The people of the state have to come together to change that law, because that law is discriminatory.”
After Quintero’s failed appeal, he and Burns met with Vice Chancellor Laliberte on October 10. According to Burns, Laliberte did his best to explain the inconsistencies, and apologized to Quintero on behalf of the university.
In addition, the Vice Chancellor urged Quintero to re-appeal, stating that his 15 years of dance experience and exceptional merit could be a cause for reconsideration.
However the re-appeal was not needed. Quintero said he received an email from Laliberte last Monday stating that he had been granted the Regents Equity Award.
Laliberte quoted the Wisconsin statute saying, “’The board may remit nonresident tuition either in whole or in part at each institution, but not other fees: To a number of needy and worthy nonresident students upon the basis of merit, to be shown by suitable tests, examinations or scholastic records and continued high standards of scholastic attainment.”
Burns said he is excited that Quintero gets to go back to school to finish his degree. He is excited that UWM has proved their commitment to the LGBT community, showing how they are one of the most welcoming and friendly campuses to LGBT students, Burns added.
“I feel like Equality Wisconsin has not only gained a new member and new support in Jorge and Rob, but I also feel like we’ve strengthened our bond with UWM,” Burns said. “Jorge and Rob, the university and Equality Wisconsin all recognized the problem and worked together finding a good positive solution that is productive for everyone.”
Quintero said he is very fortunate that the university found a way to give him in-state tuition, and that he believes the university’s decision can be considered a win for everyone who was involved.
“I’m really anxious to be a part of the community at UWM,” Quintero said. “I love the school, I love the Peck School of the Arts. It’s going to be an amazing place to develop as an artist.”