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Opinion

Gov. Walker’s budget proposal sucking blood from student body

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February 25, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his $300 million UW System cut, which would take away $4.2 million from the UW-River Falls campus, is part of an overall state budget proposal, which is a balance attempt to solve the entire state’s deficit.

The budget proposal has the university questioning its future in a major way that Chancellor Dean Van Galen called “historic.” Planning for the worst is logical, even when the proposal has yet to pass through legislature. Taxes, too, needs a final count. On July 1, the new fiscal year, the budget proposal will be decided upon, and things will be different. We don’t know what it will look like yet, in detail.

I’ve personally been waiting for weeks to throw my two cents in Walker’s face, trying to think of the fistful of words to immobilize Walker legless, from walking on our state and, perhaps, from running on our country. That can’t happen in several hundred words. In the meantime, seeing the Student Voice filled with Walker outcry has been a start–and a delight.

Walker’s proposal shows an obvious lack of value for education. In or out of school, education is incredibly important for an individual and society. It has climbed high on my political priority list. The more minds surviving, making a living, dedicated to furthering the overall human understanding, the better.

The professors are vital. Their roles vary as teachers, mentors, and the pushers of human thought. They conduct research and maintain service. Walker’s solution to “just have them teach one more class” is an absurd notion; the first and worst solution I’ve heard. Van Galen’s description of his former roles as a chemistry professor in a guest column in the River Falls Journal in early February quickly squashed it.

If the students are the so-called “body,” then professors would be the “heart,” pumping blood, fueling our brains, making students run with wide-open eyes. Like a vampire, Walker is standing next to the body, breathing down its neck, ready to bite and suck its blood, and a presidential run might have him transforming to a bat and flying away.

A week before school started, I had the pleasure of using saliva to adhere the “Welcome Back to UWRF” sign to the Falcon’s Nest windows, suctioning them to the glass as a new worker for the school. The Falcon’s Nest is spot to have an eye over much of the school grounds. People from down below would look up at the tall, wide sheets of glass at the sign, and then at me.

The start of the semester annoyed me with the influx of traffic. My street was at full capacity parking. I won’t have these thoughts again because I’d rather have the business and bustle of the crowd and have the school not just survive, but remain healthy. For the third time, I will witness the absence of the college crowd, leaving River Falls in a state of peaceful desolation.

While taking down the sign weeks later, I overheard a joking comment: “Well, apparently we aren’t welcome anymore.” Realizing that some people walking in and seeing “welcome back” might not be welcomed back next year, makes this true, at least according to Walker.

I have a job at the school and I too am afraid of losing it. I feel incredibly lucky to have gotten the opportunity to get paid work. If it’s lost, I will still feel lucky to have gotten a stint. If I had the chance to meet Walker, I’d put spit the saliva in hand for a shake, not to seal any deal, but to simply have him look down and think twice (for once).

For how cheap UWRF has been, I feel as if I owe them. Currently, I’m taking the money, but I would work for free, simply because I want to be good at the things that I do.

I am surprised the Republicans have publicly stayed silent on a landmark issue, although it’s my job as a student journalist to ask. As fellow students, I would hope they aren’t looking up to Walker in this situation, or standing by him because Walker is labeled a Republican. These actions aren’t solutions.

For current students, this situation requires not saying “screw politics.” It’s a time to lobby and rally resources for individuals studying something they hopefully turn passionate about doing for a living.

It’s one thing to know the issue and another to get up and take physical action. Walker is playing with fire with $300 million, or about a third of a billion dollars to spin it to sound worse. It’s time for the citizens to get fiery and raise the pitchforks. Students, community members, and the state should protest this negative chunk of money so it doesn’t weaken our coveted accessibility and quality of Wisconsin education.

Jack Haren is a journalism student with a political science minor. His free time is spent snowboarding, skateboarding, reading, writing, designing, listening, experimenting and living minimally. In the future he wishes to freelance and travel the world.