This is in response to “Long-term flexibility for UW System will alleviate cuts” from Feb. 5. That piece is critical of the nature of the state budget discourse now taking place. In particular, the writer suggests that our shock and anxiety about the proposed $300 million cut to the UW System is not the right reaction. “The UW System is not royally screwed,” this writer assures us. He challenges us to “forget the rhetoric and buzzwords and look at the details,” saying that only then can we truly understand this issue.
I reject that rhetoric and buzzwords have clouded our understanding in this case. It is not a lack of clarity but the facts themselves that cause our anxiety. The Capitol Times published a straightforward headline Jan. 28: “UW-Madison chancellor warns Scott Walker’s cuts would mean layoffs, out-of-state tuition hikes.” One day later, the State Journal’s headline read “Gov. Scott Walker to UW faculty: Consider teaching one more class per semester.” On the same day that “Long-term flexibility” appeared, the Journal Sentinel published: “UW-Madison fears cuts will hurt competitiveness.” That day, Chancellor Rebecca Blank told the Board of Regents that UW-Madison had already experienced “its first casualty.” Recently, a top medical researcher withdrew their application after hearing about the cuts, which Blank quoted in her nearly hour-long speech. The local newspapers don’t mince words. These headlines were as clear as the articles they preceded, and the facts they report are shocking in their own right. Perhaps that researcher read one or many of the troubling headlines that have come out recently.
The author of “Long-term flexibility” makes a good point — that this is still the beginning of the budget process — but the didactic tone of the piece failed to soothe my anxiety.
But we find encouragement in exercising our true ability to influence change. If we value affordable tuition, shared governance, top notch faculty or the Wisconsin Idea, the Walker budget as it is today is unacceptable. We must do what we can: that is, call our parents, our families and our representatives to tell them that these cuts are too big. Since academic and student services will be on the line for every University of Wisconsin student, we should call our friends from other campuses. Anyone from any Wisconsin college or university has an important voice in this issue and everyone — students, faculty and staff — will be affected by this budget. The situation demands we take action. “Long-term flexibility” ended on a more inspiring note: “It will be a challenge and take a lot of hard work. But if we put in the time and effort, it will lead to a better, stronger future.” Let’s go to work.
Colin Barushok ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in mathematics.