Apparently the students at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM) have had a chance to read Scott Walker’s 2015-2017 biennial budget. It includes major cuts to many of Wisconsin’s vital public institutions. Two major actions against Walker’s proposed budget cuts took place on Wednesday at UWM that clearly demonstrated the students are not ready to just accept the cuts.
The first gathering took place at noon in the heart of UWM’s campus, the Ernest Spaights plaza, where around a hundred students showed up in the cold weather with signs and banners.
Several students spoke about how Walker’s massive cuts to public education and the UW System will compromise their future education opportunities.
UWM English professors Lane Hall and Annie McClanahan spoke about their concern for what kind of an education the university will be able to provide when the cuts will force the school to have to cut staff and programs. Hall stated that a 300 milion (150 over two years) cut equates (if formula used in the past are once again used) to 40 million (20 over two years) for UWM. That is equivalent to the budget of the Lubar School of Business. In 1970, nearly 60% of the system budget came from taxes. In 2005, 48%… at this point, UWM is down to 19%. After these cuts, if they happen, it will be 15%. The tuition costs have gone up almost exactly equivalent to the state base-budget going down.
After the speakers finished, the group marched through the busy student union chanting and picking up other supportive students along the way to the union main entrance lobby, where for about twenty minutes the group walked in a circle chanting, “No ifs. No buts. No education cuts!” and ” Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like!”.
Students dropped a banner over the third floor’s bannister above where the demonstration was taking place.
Later in the evening around 4:30 students started gathering in the Wisconsin Room on the third floor of the student union to make signs and posters for a 5:30 campus march and rally.
Once a fairly large group had arrived, students marched to Mitchell Hall.
Several politicians spoke against Walker’s cuts including Rep Mandela Barnes, Sen Jonathan Brostoff, Alderman Tony Zielinski, and County Supervisor Jason Haas. Most Wisconsinites have been shocked as details of the nearly 2,000 page budget have come to light. These include:
- $300 million dollar cut to the University of Wisconsin system
- $135 dollar/per pupil cut in public school K12 funding
- Lifts voucher school cap around the state
- Defunding Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television
- A 40% cut to SeniorCare, which accounts for roughly 40 percent of the budget for the prescription drug program for low-income seniors.
- Ending Chapter 220 busing program in Milwaukee created to end segregation in city schools
As Rep Mandela Barnes was speaking students holding the message “FIGHT THE CUTS” slid behind the rally speakers creating a great lighted backdrop for the large rally.
Students and faculty vowed to continue their fight by announcing another planning meeting on Thursday to keep the pressure on Walker and legislators around the state to make sure the budget as it is written does not pass.
Photo album from the day can be found here.