UWRF Faculty Senate passes resolution of no confidence in UW System president, Board of Regents
May 5, 2016
The UW-River Falls Faculty Senate passed a resolution of no confidence in UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents at its meeting on Wednesday, May 4.
The resolution, which passed with no objections and one abstention, followed the passing of the same resolution by UW-Madison’s Faculty Senate on May 2. The resolution stated Senate’s dissatisfaction with changes to tenure policy and shared governance in Wisconsin and said that it holds no confidence in Cross or the Board of Regents regarding commitment to defending the Wisconsin Idea.
Discussion before the vote included no statements disagreeing with the proposed resolution, as faculty senators and audience members voiced their support. From the audience, John Heppen, chair of Geography and Geographic Information Science, said that standing with UW-Madison and encouraging Cross and the Board of Regents to work with the universities is an important action for UWRF to take.
“The faculty at Madison is committed to being unified with all the other faculty in the UW System schools,” Heppen said. “So I think it’s very, very important that we show solidarity with them and support them, because they have decided to stick with us.”
Sen. Doug Margolis said during discussion that the resolution was due to what he called a leadership failure from Cross while the state of public education is being threatened.
“I think more important, still, is the whole idea that public education is under attack right now, and we have no leadership who’s voicing out a consistent and clear message that public education is important and matters,” Margolis said. “That’s why I support this motion and hope you do, too.”
Sen. Mialisa Moline said that she read a quote from a UW-Madison professor about how letting fear stop faculty members from speaking openly about their concerns makes them lose their academic freedom. She said that she would not live her professional life in fear of speaking out. Her comments were greeted with applause from the audience and her fellow members of Senate.
When it came time to vote, several faculty senators stood in addition to raising their hands in support of the motion.
However, not everyone was pleased with the decision. UWRF student Lisa Erickson, who was officially appointed to the Board of Regents on May 1, said she was upset that the resolution passed and did not see its benefit.
“I just think it’s incredibly selfish,” Erickson said. “I think it’s very faculty-based, and I don’t see how it benefits the students at all. I don’t see how it benefits the UW System. It’s extremely frustrating.”
Erickson said that she does not see what else Cross and the Board of Regents could possibly do, because they do not have much control over the decisions that are being handed down to them.
“We’re only doing what we’ve been dealt with, and so it seems difficult when you look at it from that perspective,” Erickson said. “We’re only doing what we’ve been asked to do, but yet we’re feeling the brunt of what we’ve been asked to do by the governor and (legislators).”
Next week, Erickson said that she hopes to meet with Governor Scott Walker to talk about the concerns she’s heard from people on campuses and ask why the budget cuts to the UW System have been made.
Other universities in the UW System, including Milwaukee, Green Bay and Superior, are expected to vote on the same resolution later this month.