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Campus rally expected in protest of UW System budget cuts

February 25, 2015

Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a $300 million budget cut to the UW System, and that has a number of UW System campuses hosting rallies in protest, and UW-River Falls may be next.

UW-Eau Claire held a rally on Feb. 13 with hundreds of students, staff, and community members turning up for the event. Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt said that he’s glad that students are getting involved.

UW-Whitewater held a rally on Feb. 20, and this news is causing other UW System schools to hold rallies to protest the budget cuts, and UWRF may be joining in.

If the budget would pass as it is proposed, $300 million would be cut from the UW System over the course of the next two years.

Chair of the College Democrats Amanda Young says that these budget cuts will hit students where it hurts.

“We’re university students and we need our university to be as cheap as possible, so with budget cuts we aren’t going to have enough money to fund programs,” Young said.

Young also said that there is a lot of interest in students to hold a rally here on the campus. Students are afraid of what could be lost if these budget costs get pushed through. There is potential that there will be fewer classes to choose from, and fewer members of faculty to teach those classes.

“I’m scared to lose all the opportunities that will be lost with the budget cuts,” said Taylor Hall, UWRF student. “It can potentially make people change what they want to do with their lives, because there isn’t a program offered anymore in their field of choice.”

UW System schools are currently in a tuition freeze, which ends after this semester, but the proposal would extend the freeze for two more years. After the two years are up, UW System students could see a drastic hike in tuition. Out-of-state students could potentially see an increase in tuition as early as next year.

“I think that it is important for the campus to have a rally to protest,” said Laura Orris, UWRF student. “It would raise more awareness and hopefully change the decision of the budget cuts.”

According to chapter 18.11, under section four of the state legislature, there are standards regarding rallies on campuses in the UW System. In order to keep UWRF a free university accessible to members of the community, students, and staff, it is unlawful to obstruct access to any university building.

“Any picketing, rally, parade, demonstration, other assembly, or congregation of spectators to such activity may be declared unlawful,” says chapter 18.11 under the conduct on university lands.

Participants of the potential rally should know that they aren’t allowed to block fire exits, entrances, regular exits of buildings, stairways, nor are allowed to disturb any class or any university event that is taking place.

“I also recommend that those planning a rally on campus contact campus reservations to ensure that the rally does not interfere with any already scheduled campus events,” said Blake Fry, director of communications and external relations.

Young said that there is not a specific date set yet for the rally, but it is in the works. Also, the College Democrats would like to have a table set up in the University Center to show how the budget cuts will be affecting UWRF specifically.

“It sounds like rallies are going well on other campuses, and we would [like] to get involved with it,” Young said. “We are thinking next week is too early, but within the next couple of weeks.”