‘No confidence’ vote from faculty senate highlights unease at UWRF
May 5, 2016
On Wednesday, May 4, the UW-River Falls Faculty Senate passed a resolution of no confidence in UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents. Through this action, the Faculty Senate condemned the weakening of tenure and shared governance in the UW System and called for them to recommit themselves to the Wisconsin Idea.
Considering that the Faculty Senate at UW-Madison shared the same sentiments earlier this week, it’s clear that something is wrong with the way that the UW System is being run, and students and faculty are the ones that are paying the price.
After everything that has happened in the UW System in the past few years — the budget cuts and the changes to tenure to mention a few — it’s fair to say that the actions of the Faculty Senate accurately reflect the frustrations of the students at our university. Experiencing the difficulty of enrolling in classes as courses become fewer, feeling the quality of education diminish and noticing the hidden panic in our professors as they no longer feel secure in their home at UWRF offers a defeating message that students can’t ignore: higher education is no longer a priority in Wisconsin.
Things feel bleak on campus, and with good reason. Feeling secure is of huge importance for students as well as for faculty and staff. The crushing worry that comes with wondering and not knowing what the next blow will be to our college system, and whether the next blow will be the one that upheaves one’s life is, of course, a huge detriment to the ability to enjoy and take advantage of our university, as a student or employee.
In these stressful times, everyone should remember to support one another. As trite as it sounds, our community on campus and in the city of River Falls is what holds everything together, and that has always been the case. No small part of the struggle the UW System is going to is the hoplessness that seems to be ubiquitous among those in the know. When it feels like there is nothing to be done it can be hard to bother trying, but that’s exactly what we need.
What we hope to see is for those with the power to change what is happening with the UW System to work over the summer and come back with new ideas for the next academic year. The onus, after all, is on those who have power, and it becomes increasingly so the further up the chain of command one goes.
Students should remember that what they say also matters; they should try to make sure people higher up the chain in the UW System know what the lifeblood of its universities think. At the same time, students should not be responsible for fighting to keep their university functional; that lies on the people who are paid to do just that.
Without change, things seem grim for the future of education in Wisconsin, and without determination for improvement and a renewed focus on the betterment of Wisconsin’s university system from the state government, Ray Cross and the Board of Regents, there will be no change for the better.
As students, we don’t know all the answers. How could we? We don’t know how to bring back the Wisconsin Idea or reverse the damage that the budget cuts have had on our university. As students, we need people in our corner that will fight for us as we spend sleepless nights studying for tests and broadening our minds through that class that has nothing to do with our major and that we never thought that we would ever take. Right now, Faculty Senate’s actions accurately describes the feeling that can be felt throughout the university, the feeling of ‘no confidence.’