Students and state officials rally against UW System cuts

Emilie Hedeimann

UW Oshkosh Democrats and other speakers expressed opposing views to Gov. Scott Walker’s UW System budget cuts on Tuesday at the #SaveOurUW rally. Speakers included Rep. Amanda Stuck of the 57th Assembly District, Michelle Cecil, president of United Students in Residence Halls and Rep. Gordon Hintz of the 54th Assembly District,. “It’s easy to be cynical about a lot of the decisions that have been happening,” Hintz said during his speech. “I’m here today to stand up for the UW and to oppose the $300 million cut, which is the largest in state history.” Hintz said the value of education to the state and the future has never been more significant. He said the access and quality of the UW System couldn’t survive without the state’s investment. “Our UW System was nationally recognized before these challenges started and have persevered through the past two decades, despite declining state support,” Hintz said. Hintz said Wisconsin was projected to have a massive budget surplus just last spring, but the cuts prove that the UW System is not a priority to Walker and the state Legislature. “He’s just not that into you,” Hintz said, referring to Walker and the state legislature not being that into Wisconsin. According to Hintz, gutting funding for public institutions creates less classes and longer graduation times. “Despite the sluggish economic record and devastating proposed cuts to the very educational investments like the UW System that create economic opportunity, we seem to have learned nothing,” Hintz said. According to Cecil, the processes, traditions and values that are held by the UW System are under fire. “Only through events like this, [can we] hold one another accountable to fight for our University and to fight for the things we believe in,” Cecil said during her speech. Cecil said nothing is safe because there is much uncertainty regarding how the cuts will impact UWO and its sister institutions. “It’s up to us [to] stand with our integrity, use our knowledge to educate our peers and to get our legislatures to educate the state about why the cuts are detrimental to UW Oshkosh and the UW System,” Cecil said. According to Cecil, Wisconsin should be a state in which the UW System illuminates the people it produces. “Yet, when these institutions are facing cuts that result in the retirements, staff layoffs and more, our likes in the state diminish and we become a light bulb inside the house, instead of the beacon at the top of the lighthouse guiding others,” Cecil said. According to Stuck, more cuts to the UW System means less economic and educational opportunity. “Getting [an] education is the ladder out of poverty,” Stuck said. Stuck said she worries about families in poverty because she was a single mother at the age of 19. She said the more uneducated the workforce is, the less employers will be able to find people with the proper qualifications. Brandon Colligan, member of the UWO College Democrats, said people should get out and get informed about the budget cuts, especially when the impact can be scaled down to the individual. “The cuts are extremely detrimental, not just to students, but to the state of Wisconsin as a whole,” Colligan said.