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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
James Baughman, Scott Walker, Genevieve Carter

Gov. Scott Walker (middle) will unveil his biannual budget proposal Tuesday as UW System students, like ASM Chair Genevieve Carter (right), faculty like professor James Baughman (left) and staff consider how to cope with anticipated cuts.

UW students, faculty prepare response to state budget

On the eve of Gov. Scott Walker’s long-awaited budget proposal, including $300 million in cuts to the UW System, student and faculty organizations around the state are planning their reaction to the expected hit.

“This is pretty severe. We’ve been dealing with cuts for the last 12 years or so, but they’ve not been of this magnitude,” UW-Madison journalism professor James Baughman said. “I think we’re going to have to think of more draconian ways to reduce our expenditures.”

Baughman added these reductions will damage the overall quality of education, a common concern among faculty and students.

The greater freedom from state laws presented in the proposal would only increase workload, according to Student Labor Action Coalition member Melanie Meyer.

“To me, that’s what greater autonomy represents: layoffs and more work for faculty and staff that are already pushed to the limit,” Meyer said.

The Associated Students of Madison fear the promised autonomy could result in a reassignment of the role of shared governance, the body that allows students to make decisions about fee allocation, student life and services.

“Without those rights, students lose their seat at the table. They could lose the right to allocate their fees and decide where their money goes,” ASM chair Genevieve Carter said. “I think the worst thing that could happen would be if students no longer had their rights and their voice.”

At least three Facebook pages cropped up over the weekend calling for protests against the cuts on different days and in different locations. Baughman said these disjointed efforts could be in vain.

“I don’t think it would do any good,” he said. “I think it’s incumbent on students and others to reach out to their legislators and others of influence in the state to suggest that this is too much.”

Masha Anderson, chair of the College Democrats at UW-Milwaukee disagrees. Her organization has planned a protest at its campus that she believes more than 200 people will attend Wednesday.

“We’re up in arms about [the budget cuts],” Anderson said. “This is a non-partisan issue. It’s going to hurt students no matter what affiliation politically you are.”

Milwaukee’s campus may not be alone in its reaction if Tuesday’s budget announcement goes as many anticipate it will.

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Eleni Schirmer, co-president of the campus union for teaching assistants at UW-Madison, said several campus groups will meet following Tuesday’s announcement to organize a response to the final proposal.

“We’re trying to work as closely as we can with other unions on campus and also with United Council and ASM and the Student Labor Action Coalition,” Schirmer said. “We’re trying to integrate as much as we can.”

While Schirmer said there can be no definite plans before Walker’s budget address Tuesday, Baughman is more certain the outlook for the UW System is bleak.

“I’m not optimistic,” Baughman said. “I would be prepared for the worst.”

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