Alumnus tasks UWO to vote

Laura Dickinson

UWO graduate Staush Gruszynski spoke to students on Monday. Gruszynski told students to get involved politically.
[/media-credit] UWO graduate Staush Gruszynski spoke to students on Monday. Gruszynski told students to get involved politically.

Political director of Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Staush Gruszynski came to UW Oshkosh to discuss the current political election in Wisconsin and political advocacy at Reeve Memorial Union.
Gruszynski’s speech on Monday was part of UWO’s Earth Charter Week, which features speakers focused on sustainability.
Gruszynski is a political science alumnus from UWO. He graduated from the University in 2008 then started working for the non-profit, non-partisan organization back in 2010, mainly managing candidate endorsements.
WLCV is an organization that works with politicians on both sides of the aisle to pass good conservation legislation, Gruszynski said.
According to Gruszynski, the organization works with Wisconsin legislators on issues like clean energy, clean water, high capacity wells and water quality that affect people on a wide political spectrum in Wisconsin.
“From clean water groups, clean energy groups, conservation clubs and gun clubs, they form a coalition when we work on state legislation we send to the capital,” Gruszynski said.
Gruszynski said the organization goes across the state to talk about the issues that really matter to those groups, and to talk directly to state legislators.
“We make sure that legislators know what people in their district think about conservation issues,” Gruszynski said. “We also have three paid lobbyists that work directly at the capitol.”
Gruszynski said in order to amplify their voice the people need to be involved.
“Organizers are really important to our work and I would say that they are our lifeblood on the ground,” Gruszynski said.
The WLCV has offices located in Green Bay and Milwaukee and many of their partners are located in Milwaukee and Madison.
Gruszynski said the organization encourages people to come to hearings at the state capitol.
“You don’t have to be an expert and that’s something that I want to get across,” Gruszynski said. “You’d be surprised on how little state legislators know on so many issues.”
Communications professor Jennifer Considine said she hopes students realize the importance of environmental issues and their influences in politics.
“My bigger hope is that students come away thinking ‘my voice really matters in politics and here are some ways I can make my voice heard,’” Considine said.
Gruszynski said last year the WLCV’s efforts were able to put $33 million back into the state budget for the Knowles-Stewardship Fund, which is a fund that protects public lands.
“We had several environmental groups that were local that sat around the table with legislators on how we could save the Knowles-Stewardship Fund,” Gruszynski said.
Moving forward into the final month before the election, the WLCV is focusing on new issues, Gruszynski said.
According to Gruszynski, water is polling as a top five issue in Wisconsin for the upcoming session.
“There are many factors with water,” Gruszynski said. “One of the biggest effects was from all the media coverage of the Flint, Mich. water crisis.”
Gruszynski said attendees should register to vote and to vote early if they can.
The ADP was at the event to give students the chance to register to vote.
Sami Duhring of the American Democracy Project is working to get as many UWO students as possible registered to vote before Election Day.
“We have registered over 400 students, but considering that UWO has a student population of 13,000, we have a long way to go,” Duhring said.
According to Duhring, working alongside of events like Gruszynski’s speech and Earth Charter Week has improved the registration rate.
“We saw [a] big push for registration in the early weeks at events, but the closer we get to Election Day we see a lot of already-registered voters showing up to these events,” Duhring said.
Considine said even if you do not register before Election Day, do not let the lines to vote scare you.
“Bring a snack and do some homework,” Considine said. “Make new friends while waiting in line. Don’t be afraid of the long lines.”
Gruszynski said he wants people to make a push for their voices to be heard in the last couple weeks before Election Day.
“Volunteer,” Gruszynski said. “Make calls to lawmakers in the next 29 days. Get involved, make sure that your politicians know that you care.”