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Milwaukee students oppose cuts; seize stage at UW-M chancellors speech

By Daniel Williams

Milwaukee SDS and YES members take over stage before chancellors address

Milwaukee, WI – About 20 students and faculty members rallied at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Feb. 3, and marched on university Chancellor Mark Mone's Spring Plenary address at the Zelazo Center.

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) led the protest joined by Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) as a part of its campaign against the $250 million budget cut to the UW system, now entering its first year anniversary.

Angered by how administration has been handling the budget cut process, SDS and YES marched into the Zelazo Center just before Chancellor Mone's address was about to begin and took the stage, carrying signs and a banner reading “Education is a right!”

After a few minutes of confused chatter from the audience, consisting of mostly administration and faculty with little to no students in attendance, Breanna Eisner of SDS spoke to the audience, “Instead of six-figure salaries for unnecessary bureaucratic positions, money should be invested into our education, student and academic services, resource centers, campus workers and instructional units.”

The audience listened in silence, as did Mone, the chancellor appearing a bit uneasy by this interruption of the proceedings. “The budget proposals have not been implemented yet and I've already lost the majority of my TA's, side-instructors and tutors,” Breanna continued. “My class of 100 students considered 'too small' by the university to qualify for a TA. Study abroad programs are being cut, participation in student government is being marginalized, majors and minors are being eliminated completely. The cost of tuition and food is outrageous for a 20-year old making only minimum wage. The inflation of living expenses is destroying the working class by indebting those who have to earn a living wage.”

After a moment of stunned silence, the audience clapped and the protesters marched out chanting, “We won't go without a fight, education is a right!”

During the plenary, Chancellor Mone made his case for increasing student tuition: “One of the things that I argue is that it is not good policy to continue to cap the price or tuition for any good [...] I think you can all appreciate what a modest tuition increase can do for our campus, not at the levels we had before the 6.8% tuition increase that we had from roughly 2001 through 2011. But even less than half of that would make a huge difference.”

Resident undergraduate tuition for 2015-2016 is $9452, based on 12 to 18 credits for both semesters. A 3.4% annual increase would effectively result in a total increase of $1351 in tuition per student after four years.

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