“They say cutback, we say fightback!”
University of Wisconsin students wanted a meeting with their chancellor. On Thursday afternoon, they walked into the chancellor’s office and sat down until they got a meeting with him. The students’ demands focused on Governor Walker’s budget cuts and what they considered to be a weak response from the university over the massive $300 million cut to the entire pubic UW System. By going outside the normal channels of communication they achieved their goal.
The student’s arrived at the chancellor’s office in Chapman Hall and asked to speak to Chancellor Mone.
The secretary mentioned that the chancellor had just left the office for a meeting. The students stated that they’d take a seat until he came back. The secretary continued that Chancellor Mone would not be back in the office that day and that they’d have to make an appointment to speak to him.
The students sat down and said they’d wait.
A UWM security guard showed up.
After some time passed, the secretary asked the students what their demands were. One of the students read them aloud.
1. Publicly and Unequivocally Oppose the Proposed Budget as Harmful, Unnecessary, and Political in Nature.
2. Cut Administrative Positions and Salaries Before Cutting Academics and Student Services and Before Laying Off Faculty and Staff
As the students were reading their demands several UWM police officers enter the room.
The first officer in immediately told the students that they needed to leave. The students didn’t budge and repeated their desire to speak with Chancellor Mone directly. The officer left the room. As he was leaving a report came over his radio of “other students.” arriving. That’s when you could hear the chanting outside. The students sitting-in sprang up and rushed to the window to see fellow students rallying in support outside.
Next came in another university official arrived holding a piece of paper. He told the students that they would need to fill out the form in order to schedule a meeting with the chancellor. The students repeated their request to see the chancellor.
Next, a man in a university shirt walked in. He was pleasant and stated that he was the Dean of Students. He spoke with the students in a comfortable manner and asked them what he could do to remedy the situation. The student reiterated their desire to speak with Mone. After some more conversation, the Dean left.
Another 20 minutes later the Dean of Students returned. He said he had a possible solution. He stated that the students could head over to the Faculty Senate to speak with Mone and other faculty governance, who collectively agreed to hear the student out. The students huddled and discussed the dean’s proposal. They agreed to send a representative while the rest of them remained in the office.
After some time the student representative returned. He stated that the chancellor and faculty had listened to the students’ demands. He also stated that Chancellor Mone was willing to set up a future meeting to further discuss the demands.
The students left the office after two hours of sitting-in content that they had been heard and that a future opportunity existed for dialogue. They received a warm welcome from the support rally outside.
As the students were discussing their next steps, Chancellor Mone walked up.
Mone was respectful and gave the students time to speak. He stated that although he agreed the cuts were wrong for UWM, he could not support their demands. After some back and forth contact information was finally exchanged with Mone’s word to meet with student representatives soon.
All photos were taken by Joe Brusky.