The Teaching Assistants’ Association announced Monday it opposes Chancellor Biddy Martin’s New Badger Partnership and the proposal to separate the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus from the UW System.
The announcement reflects a motion approved at a Sunday meeting. TAA Co-President Kevin Gibbons said the motion comes after months of deliberation and discussion about Martin’s proposal.
He said union members raised concerns about a lack of transparency and engagement with the campus community after Gov. Scott Walker’s budget announcement.
“Officials have not engaged with the people whose livelihoods will be impacted,” he said. “The plans should have been made in a transparent, democratic process.”
Gibbons said when TAA representatives first heard about the New Badger Partnership, the initial details available were not substantial enough for the union to a form an official stance on the plan.
He said the possible impacts of the public authority model for the Madison campus have proved a cause for concern among members, in addition to the fate of shared governance statutes under the plan.
In an earlier public forum following the governor’s budget announcement, Martin said though the Madison campus would be independent of the UW System, officials would continue to pursue strong ties to the other campuses across the state.
She also said current state-shared governance statutes, as articulated in Chapter 36, are protected by law and will remain unchanged even when UW achieves public authority status.
“Shared governance is what makes this place unique,” Martin said in a previous interview with The Badger Herald. “There is no way to go forward without it.”
Gibbons said given Walker’s stance on higher education, the plan to separate the Madison campus from the system “feels like a divide and conquer” measure that would make it easier to defund education.
He said the opposition of many UW System representatives, including members of the Board of Regents, should serve as a sign that the proposed split will damage the quality of education on the UW campuses and could also endanger access for all students.
“The TAA opposes the New Badger Partnership … the threat to affordability and accessibility it poses to public education and the lack of protection for labor unions on campus,” the motion said.