The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Scott Walker speaks on campus

Former WI Governor talks about free speech on college campuses
Photo by Toby Mohr
Walker spoke as his current role of president of Young America’s Foundation.

In Centennial Hall’s largest lecture hall, over 100 students and community members sat facing Scott Walker.

“I didn’t send my kids to go to college just to hear a conservative point of view, even though I think that is overwhelmingly a better point of view. I want them to hear a diverse set of backgrounds, not just political, but ideological, religious and otherwise,” Walker said during his speech to the crowd. “That’s what higher education is supposed to be about. Sadly, on far too many of our campuses across the state and around the country is the place where it’s the most at attack.”

The former Wisconsin governor was invited to speak on campus on Wednesday, April 10 by UW-Eau Claire’s College Republicans Chapter. 

“We see a lot of liberal speakers coming to campus,” College Republicans President Tatiana Bobrowicz said. “You don’t see a lot of conservative speakers brought to campus. As College Republicans, we obviously have people in our group who are conservative, and we want to provide speakers for them as well and show that we have a voice to hear on campus.”

Walker, a Republican, served as governor of Wisconsin from 2011 until 2019. In his first year in office, Walker introduced the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, also known as Act 10, which significantly restricted collective bargaining and worker unions for most public employees in the state. 

Opposition to the passage of Act 10 led to a recall election in 2012, which Walker would survive, becoming the first incumbent governor to win a recall election in America. Walker then launched a 2016 presidential campaign for the Republican nomination, but dropped out after two months.

Now Walker serves as president of Young America’s Foundation and speaks on college campuses around the country in support of conservative students.

Walker spoke about free speech on college campuses, which he said is “under attack” for conservative students. He also spoke about political division in America, which he said was being pushed by liberal people and politicians, including President Joe Biden.

After the speech, students and community members were able to ask Walker questions. Bobrowicz said the Q&A session was meant to foster conversation across the political spectrum.

“I hope that those who are opposing see that we’re willing to listen to them and we want to have those conversations,” Bobrowicz said. “[The Q&A session] is a great opportunity for them to have conversations with us.”

During the Q&A session, two students questioned Walker on Act 10, each saying one of their parents had their benefits cut due to Walker’s policy in 2012. Walker claimed Act 10 was needed to avoid a worse financial situation in the state.

Two other crowd members asked Walker about his claim that liberals are driving division in the country, and if that claim drives further division. Walker said conversation needs to happen across the political aisle.

“I see over and over again with classic political liberals, there’s just this passion for not only seeming to hate America, but not wanting to have a dialogue with anyone on the right,” Walker said in his response.

Another asked Walker about the Israel and Palestine conflict. Walker called out antisemitism in the U.S. and on college campuses, and said Hamas needs to release Israeli hostages.

“The number one way to have a ceasefire is to release all the hostages,” Walker said.

A community member who said he had served as a city mayor, thanked Walker for his support of local municipalities in his time as governor.

After the event, people had the chance to meet with Walker, and continue the conversation.

“We’re not here to be divisive,” Bobrowicz said. “We’re here to actually unify our peers who do believe the same things that we believe and then find steps to move forward from that.”

Mohr can be reached at [email protected].

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