Lt. Gov. Barnes walked through and received a tour of the Red Gym Wednesday following Gov. Tony Evers State of the State address the night before. His visit focused mainly on the multi-cultural center, which is home to the Black Cultural Center, Latinx Cultural Center, Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Student Center and American Indian Student and Cultural Center.
Barnes met with Claudia Guzmán, director of the Multicultural Student Center and Bobbi Skenandore, the American Indian Student and Cultural Center program coordinator, amongst other faculty members and students.
As the holder of the second-highest executive office in a state, Barnes claimed to have gotten a good feel of “the vibes” of the Red Gym, adding that he would be “more than happy to come back.”
In a small press conference after the tour, Barnes commented on Gov. Evers' promise from his State of the State address Tuesday to freeze in-state student tuition through June 2023.
“College affordability is still a huge problem here in the state. There are all sorts of economic strains and stressors that people have been dealing with as the cost of living continues to increase and we see inflation rising at a historic rate,” Barnes said. “The least we can do is help our young people get an education so that they can get into the workforce, chase their dreams, without going too broke in the process.”
Lt. Gov. Barnes was also asked why Evers decided to call a special session Tuesday.
“The legislature has unfortunately acted irresponsibly and not answered the calls of working people in the state,” Barnes said, referring to the increase in costs of living in Wisconsin and the ongoing financial struggles caused by the pandemic. “I’m proud of the Governor and his leadership for calling the special session and trying to do the least that we can to force the Republicans in the legislature to do their jobs.”
Critical Race Theory, and the ongoing efforts in Wisconsin to ban it, were also brought up during Barnes’ visit.
“We have a responsibility as a state because we have a proud tradition here [in Wisconsin]. We were the first state to declare the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional, which I didn’t learn about till I was an adult. I didn’t learn about Ezekiel Gillespie trying to vote until I was an adult, and his whole struggle to ensure black suffrage,” Barnes said. “These are things that our students should learn; they are things that make us proud.”
Ian Wilder is a current features writer and former state politics reporter for The Daily Cardinal. Follow him on Twitter at @IanWWilder.