Students lead rally against latest budget cuts

The state budget picture took center stage Tuesday (Nov. 15) as a modest group of UW-Green Bay students, faculty and staff gathered for a lunch-hour rally that was part information and part frustration.

Between 30 and 50 people were in attendance at any given time during the 75-minute event, held in the visitor parking lot between the University Union and MAC Hall. UW-Green Bay’s Student Government Association called the rally to provide information and facilitate discussion on the $65 million UW System budget lapse, and what the cuts could mean for UW-Green Bay.

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UW-Green Bay, rally against budget cuts, Nov. 15, 2011UW-Green Bay, rally against budget cuts, Nov. 15, 2011UW-Green Bay, rally against budget cuts, Nov. 15, 2011

State Sen. Dave Hansen, a UW-Green Bay alumnus, addressed attendees, some of whom carried signs bemoaning the cuts to education. Hansen said he has deep concerns about what the lapse will mean for students, he said, including possible increases in class size or cutting courses entirely.

“It’s obviously disproportionate and it’s obviously not fair,” said Hansen, one of several speakers to note that the UW System is absorbing 38 percent of the lapse, despite representing just 7 percent of state GPR expenditures. He called the move “short-sighted” and “an assault on the middle class.”

Students and faculty members also spoke during the rally, many sharing their personal stories and outlining concerns. UW-Green Bay alumnus and former Student Government Association President Andy Teale said the University has lost good professors because of the state budget crunch, and that tuition has risen while starting wages have not.

“They’re attacking us directly,” he said. “It’s time we take a stand.”

Although the rally was held to address the budget lapse, it also occurred on a day when students and organizers statewide began circulating petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker. Some attendees circulated and signed petitions, and some speakers referenced the recall as part of their remarks. University Police were on hand to monitor the rally, which was peaceful and civil.