Education Rights Protest

momberg-pic_opt_1Protesters marched on Chapman Hall on Thursday to hand a list of demands in response to rising tuition to the vice chancellor in the spirit of the National Day of Action for Education Rights.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Michael Laliberte said that the University is in the process of working with the Wisconsin Legislature. “Along with state budget cuts come education cuts,” he said. “Tuition is a part of our revenue stream.”

The Education Rights Coalition (ERC) is made up of members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), graduate students, staff and alumni.

In past years, this day for student activism has led to unrest between students and campus police. This year it was smaller, but Laliberte said that the administration does appreciate student concerns.

The event supporters gathereda group of about forty members of the university and the community. A crowd began to form in the concourse of the Student Union. A few people sat on the floor and made signs to distribute to the protesters.

Echoes of sticks exploding against the bottoms of five-gallon buckets resonated throughout the Union. The makeshift drum line ushered the protesters outside. Nearly half of the signs that were made were left behind. The protester’s numbers were limited but they managed to attract attention.

“When I say ‘student,’ you say power,” screamed Eddie Chapman as he led the crowd toward the stage in the corner of Spaights Plaza and grabbed a microphone.  “Student Power,” the crowd chanted back.

Chapman is a junior at UW-Milwaukee and an organizer of the event. He handed the microphone off to five members of SDS. They listed five demands of school administrators.

  • No cuts. Administration staff to take a 5% pay cut
  • Immediate tuition freeze
  • Forgiveness from the government of student debt
  • Representatives from the ERC to have active role in determining budget
  • Representation in the administration for campus workers

The crowd of protesters marched on. As they neared the doors of Chapman Hall, Vice Chancellor Laliberte was standing there in anticipation of their arrival. Chapman handed the demands to Laliberte. The vice chancellor said that a response would be delivered to Chapman’s private e-mail address by March 15.

Members of the crowd demanded to see Chancellor Lovell. Laliberte said that the Chancellor was at a meeting concerning the election for Provost later in the afternoon.

The protestors went on to strike at the UWM Provost Finalist Open Forum after leaving Chapman Hall. Eddie Chapman said, “We just heard about it earlier today.” He said that they wished to voice their opinion in response to a $75,000 raise for the position.

It was actually about a $72,000 increase in an administrative pay cap.

One responsibility of the Provost’s Office is to scout for new development in scholarship, teaching, and learning.

Six of the eight original Provost finalists were already making substantially more than  UWM’s maximum administrative salary of $237,847.   The cap is now $317,262. The UW Board of Regents granted the salary boost to make filling the position more competitive.