A group of about 60 students gathered in Spaights plaza Wednesday at a rally organized by the Progressive Students of Milwaukee to protest the recently proposed cut of $300 million to the UW-System. Speakers addressed the crowd and fired them up for a march around the campus.
At the protest, students participated in chants calling for an end to the cuts proposed by Gov. Walker, as well as chants to show solidarity and pride in their message.
Mike Mott, a local union president, likened Walker’s recent budget proposal to the 2011 Act 10 cuts that eliminated bargaining rights for labor unions, among other things.
Mott expressed serious concern about the cuts to education in Walker’s proposal. He even questioned Walker’s credibility to make a decision like this being that Walker never graduated college.
“What does Scott Walker even know about higher education?” asked Mott.
Mott voiced his belief that these cuts are not good for anyone or Wisconsin.
“$300 million is just way too drastic!” exclaimed Mott.
The president of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA) Bob Peterson, also spoke to the crowd in Spaights plaza Wednesday afternoon.
Peterson, a UWM alumni and Milwaukee Public Schools teacher of 35 years, spoke to the crowd about how he feels the 10-year-olds in his fifth grade class have a better sense of “justice” than the lawmakers in Madison. Peterson informed the crowd of 60 or so students that the (MTEA) would be standing in solidarity with university students, faculty, and staff in the face of these “barbaric” cuts.
Peterson explained to the crowd his view of the motives behind the cuts in Gov. Walker’s budget proposal.
“The plan by the one percent is basically defund the public sector,” said Peterson. “Make it weaker, and then come and say, well, let’s privatize it because the public sector’s not working.”
Peterson urged everyone at the rally to stand together and fight the proposed budget cuts.
“Budget cuts hurt all of us!” yelled Peterson.
Richard Leson, a professor of Art History at UWM and a member of the faculty and staff union, spoke up to congratulate the students on their efforts to fight the proposed cuts and urged them to continue their advocacy.
“Keep up the fight!” yelled Leson.
Following the speeches the crowd marched from Spaights plaza to Hartford, and then down Maryland and into the Union.
Andrew Urban, of the Progressive Students of Milwaukee, said, “Scott Walker is liquidating public services in this state for the benefit of the most privileged and the most well off.”
Urban detailed his concern that as a result of the proposed cuts, students’ education will be devalued by increased workloads for teachers and bigger class sizes, as well as a serious tuition hike post-freeze.
“I think the cost of education will go up tremendously after the tuition freeze expires,” said Urban.
Progressive Students of Milwaukee member Sarah Shelleh questioned Gov. Walkers decisions. She said she felt like this was a direct attack at the students and future of Wisconsin.
“We’re the future of Wisconsin and this is a direct stab to us,” said Shelleh.