The Spectator

‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Rachyl Houterman

More stories from Rachyl Houterman

Progressive Students & Alumni host press conference in solidarity with protests in Madison

From+left+to+right%3A+Hillary+Smith%2C+the+chief+of+staff+for+Student+Senate%3B+Peter+Hart-Brinson%2C+associate+professor+of+sociology%3B+Jeff+Smith%2C+organizer+for+Citizen+Action+Organizing+Cooperative+of+Western+Wisconsin%3B+and+Jeremy+Gragert%2C+city+councilman+for+District+3.%0D%0A
From left to right: Hillary Smith, the chief of staff for Student Senate; Peter Hart-Brinson, associate professor of sociology; Jeff Smith, organizer for Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative of Western Wisconsin; and Jeremy Gragert, city councilman for District 3.

From left to right: Hillary Smith, the chief of staff for Student Senate; Peter Hart-Brinson, associate professor of sociology; Jeff Smith, organizer for Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative of Western Wisconsin; and Jeremy Gragert, city councilman for District 3.

Kar Wei Cheng

Kar Wei Cheng

From left to right: Hillary Smith, the chief of staff for Student Senate; Peter Hart-Brinson, associate professor of sociology; Jeff Smith, organizer for Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative of Western Wisconsin; and Jeremy Gragert, city councilman for District 3.

Advertisement

UW-Eau Claire hosted a press conference held in solidarity with students in Madison who were protesting UW System budget cuts on Wednesday.

The press conference, organized by Progressive Students & Alumni (PSA), featured speakers Hillary Smith, chief of staff on Student Senate and secretary of PSA; Peter Hart-Brinson, associate professor of sociology at Eau Claire and president of United faculty & Academic Staff (AFT Local 6481); and Jeff Smith, organizer for Citizen Action Organizing Cooperative of Western Wisconsin.

Jeremy Gragert, city councilman for District 3, helped organize the event and made opening remarks for the speakers.

Titled “Reclaim the UW,” the protests were a response to proposed program cuts at UW-Stevens Point, where 13 liberal arts majors are at threat of being axed and replaced with technical studies deemed more relevant to workforce needs. Classes for the programs would still be taught, but the degree programs would be eliminated.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the move was prompted in response to the university’s $4.5 million budget deficit. Protesters linked the issue to repeated UW System budget cuts.

“We cannot cut our way to prosperity,” Hart-Brinson said. “We need to invest in our future. So we are here to reclaim the UW that helped build this great state.”

Hart-Brinson spoke of the effect that budget cuts have had on class sizes and faculty. Larger class sizes reduce the quality of education and make it harder for students to develop a relationship with their professors that fosters success, he said.

Hillary Smith also made the connection between budget cuts and the recent UW System restructuring, where two-year colleges are being merged with four-year universities due to financial issues.

“Funding is the root of these issues,” Hillary Smith said. “If a more systematic shift does not occur to financially strengthen the UW System again, higher education in Wisconsin faces a bleak feature.”

Addressing the threatened humanities programs at Stevens Point, Hart-Brinson called the situation a “manufactured budget crisis caused by years of budget cuts.”

Jeff Smith called the move an attack on the Wisconsin Idea, the UW System’s mission statement of solving problems beyond the classroom. In 2015, Gov. Scott Walker proposed changing the Wisconsin Idea but ultimately did not.

“They’re taking the backdoor route to remove the Wisconsin Idea and what it stands for, and the mission of our UW System through the cuts they have proposed — through an administration that is actually playing along,” Smith said.

Mike O’Brien, 64, of Eau Claire, attended Wednesday’s press conference and called the proposed changes at Stevens Point “distressing.” Having graduated from both Eau Claire and UW-Madison, O’Brien said he believes a liberal arts education is what allows students and graduates to think criticall

“English majors can think scientifically just as STEM majors can understand humanities, and developing these interdisciplinary ways of thinking starts with liberal arts education,” Hillary Smith said.

Jeff Smith emphasized the role students must play in order to see change, drawing similarities to United States high schoolers’ recent activism on the controversial issue of gun control.

“That’s what’s going to have to happen here in Wisconsin for education — the same thing,” Jeff Smith said. “It’s going to have to come from the people who are most affected.”

Hillary Smith said students can get organized by getting involved with the intergovernmental affairs commission of Student Senate. Later this year, students will attend the Rally for Excellence down in Madison to lobby legislators about student concerns.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Contributors
Rachyl Houterman, News Editor
Rachyl Houterman is a senior journalism student with a minor in political science. She has been at The Spectator for three semesters. In her free time, she enjoys building puzzles, hanging out with her dog Sophie, reading and writing. She enjoys reading about business, entrepreneurship, politics and technology.
Kar Wei Cheng, Staff Photographer
Kar Wei Cheng is a staff photographer at The Spectator and a junior studying integrated strategic communications with an emphasis in public relations. She has a passion for cooking and linguistics.
Leave a Comment

The Spectator intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Spectator does not allow anonymous comments and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • ‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

    News

    Police Blotter

  • ‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

    News

    University remembers Blugolds

  • ‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

    News

    UAC Springfest: ‘Giving back to students’

  • ‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

    News

    Student Senate confirms director appointments for 62nd Session

  • ‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

    News

    UW-Eau Claire students motivate runners in Eau Claire Marathon

  • ‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

    News

    Hundreds of community members gather to clean downtown Eau Claire

  • ‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

    News

    To Eau Claire and beyond

  • ‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

    News

    Police Blotter

  • ‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

    News

    Branden Yates and Maddie Forrest sworn into office

  • ‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts

    News

    Inaugural ‘Hope in Motion’ debuts in Zorn

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.
‘Reclaim the UW’: students and faculty speak out against budget cuts