There is a new chancellor in Bascom Hall, a new mayor doing right by the city and a new governor in the Capital. I could talk about what hasn't changed, but I have only 500 words to talk about my college years and I'd prefer not to waste them on complaints about the past or fears about the future. Good things do happen on this campus, and in this city and around this state, but they get drowned in the din of never-ending fights for innumerable causes. The victories were sometimes transitory, but some have had far-reaching effects.
The media is constantly declaring student protest dead; I've done it myself. But looking back through my college career, student activism has flourished on this campus and made a difference. The semesters of 1999 and 2000 were a particularly exciting time, with protests scattered all around. That fall, a threatened tuition hike of crippling proportions led to a massive student rally and march to the Capital. This show of strength helped freeze in-state tuition for the 2000-'01 school year, an end result we have yet to repeat.
It was also the time of the anti-sweat shop sit-ins, when Student Labor Action Committee's forerunners stormed then-Chancellor Ward's office and stayed there for 89 hours as they tried to ensure that UW apparel was not being produced in horrible conditions by forced labor. Their work led the university to join the Workers' Rights Consortium rather than the corporate-sponsored Fair Labor Association and put the UW at the forefront of the anti-sweatshop crusade.
The Southworth case came before the Supreme Court that year-and the university's victory meant that the segregated fees system would remain intact, as long as it was applied in an unbiased fashion. The broader concept of a marketplace of ideas outside of the classroom survived the challenge.
Just off campus, King Tommy finally left his reign as governor in early 2001; his unbeatable presence required in Bush's cabinet. His dangerous and revolutionary policy of deprioritizing public education finally ended. He left behind the ineffective Scott McCallum to take over, which then opened the way for the Democrats to retake the governorship for the first time in nearly two decades.
Last spring, both students and residents joined the worldwide movement speaking out against the war in Iraq, marching every week in hopes of preventing the preemptive attacks. Students also joined together to protest the SEVIS fee, leading UW administrators to agree to cover the cost rather than pass it on to international students.
Our education is worth more now than it was when we began. The reputation of the UW has been rising, with its national ranking moving up slightly, from 34th to 32nd. We have been lucky enough to attend a world-class university in a gorgeous city, surrounded by some of the brightest young people in the nation. People fight for what they believe in here and we can actually make things better. It's good to know the tradition will carry on as each class graduates and moves on.
Keeping going out there, and keep fighting-it's only just beginning.
Thanks for reading.
Jessica Rane Gartner graduated in history and political science.