The Badger Herald Editorial Board deemed the following stories important to watch throughout the semester.
ASM’s time to shine
In the aftermath of the 2016 election, people started taking a serious interest in local government. During the divestment debacle of spring 2017, students started to take an interest in the University of Wisconsin’s student government, Associated Students of Madison.
There appears to be a pattern here, but let’s not get into that quite yet.
ASM leaders hope to improve working relationships, financial transparency in upcoming sessionAlthough the Associated Students of Madison didn’t get their current name until 1994, student governance at the University of Wisconsin has Read…
The main focus is ASM, and since the historic open-forum/miniature Israeli-Palestinian conflict that took place last semester, students are now more likely to concern themselves with what actually goes on on the fourth floor of the Student Activity Center.
As students become more aware of ASM and what they do, members of ASM should also understand the student body is paying close attention to their actions. While some of the legislation they pass might not have any actual effect on university operations, it still impacts — as well as divides — the student body.
New ASM chair apologizes to Jewish community for actions in previous sessionAfter a contentious previous session, Associated Students of Madison began its 24th session with Chair Katrina Morrison apologizing for holding a Read…
So this fall, let’s see what ASM has up their sleeve.
In late June, years’ worth of campus protests and heated exchanges from the chambers of the Capitol culminated in the passage of the Campus Free Speech Act. An interesting local prologue for a new chapter in American history, albeit a familiar one — the unapologetic, flame throwing reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan on the streets of Charlottesville in early August.
Free speech will never cease to be a topic of debate nor a story to watch, especially on a college campus, but the last year has fallen hard on universities across the country as students and administrators alike struggle to define the boundaries of this unique liberty.
And in the aftermath of one student’s attempt to form a UW “alt-right” student organization, members of marginalized communities witnessed firsthand how rapidly an academic debate can transform into psychological trauma and visceral fear.
It may be too early to tell, but for now it certainly seems that Charlottesville has redefined this era of political protest, as the tendency to falsely equate white supremacy with human rights activists is reminiscent of the Civil Rights Movement.
Amid tense debate on Confederate statues — and apparent confusion on whether or not statues are our only method of learning history — as well as the recent free speech bill, this semester is sure to further test the university’s commitment to free speech, and in what form.
Campus climate survey to serve the truth about UW
In October 2016, the University of Wisconsin embarked on a mission to assess the climate of campus, specifically looking at how comfortable students of different racial, ethnic, religious and political backgrounds feel while at UW. The survey is the first of its kind at UW, prompted by increased criticism from underrepresented groups and students on campus for the lack of diversity, respect and safety.
UW System task force looks at ways to expand diversity effortsAs University of Wisconsin students call on administrators to expand their diversity efforts, a UW System task force gathered Thursday to hear Read…
Following a tumultuous year on campus filled with protests ranging from anti-Trump sentiment to women’s marches, the Westboro Baptist Church and even ASM’s divestment debacle, the findings of the campus climate survey, set to be released at the beginning of the school year, are more important now than ever.
With a racist and bigoted president, his “immigration ban” and a new wave of “alt-right” protests popping up around the country, how the UW administration and students choose to greet the findings of the survey and address their shortcomings will be vital to alleviating tensions on campus.
In the midst of a gun violence epidemic, Koval and city must respond
Madison may be a small city, but the increase in gun violence and homicides this year has proven it is not immune to big city problems.
Since January, an astounding number of shots fired have been called in from all over the city. From deliberate robberies at gunpoint to misfires at local bars or bus stops, Madison is in the midst of one of the worst epidemics of gun violence in the city’s history.
MPD Chief Koval says Madison not immune to ‘big city’ problems as gun violence spikesFive “shots fired” calls. Two robberies where a gun was used. All of these instances occurred in Madison Monday night. As Read…
But in the midst of this adversity is a community ready to stand up for its neighbors and protect future generations. Last fall, local leaders of color and community organizations banded together to create the Focused Interruption Coalition, a group aimed at reducing racial disparities, violence and recidivism in Madison.
With the combined effort from City Council members, FIC gained $400,000 in funding for their 15-point plan — a three-year plan filled with robust initiatives to prevent the violence Madison continues to experience in record numbers.
In early August, Madison Police Department Chief Mike Koval gave the green light to a plan that sought to remove some of Madison’s worst criminals. Koval’s plan, however, was met with some backlash from local pro-black advocacy groups like Freedom, Inc as they felt the list disproportionately targeted black men. Despite efforts to repair police-community relations since the fatal shooting of black teenager Tony Robinson, MPD remains under a lens from underrepresented groups of the Madison community.
Wisconsin Supreme Court rules in favor of permitting guns on Metro transit busesAfter two years of legal battles, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Tuesday 5-2 that Madison Metro buses must allow riders Read…
In its early stages, Koval’s plan appears to be a success, but Freedom, Inc’s initial concerns are valid as the city still has a long way to go to repair deeply-rooted racial disparities — especially those that lie in the practices and policies of the police.
As the city looks toward finding ways to respond to the rising violence without targeting underrepresented communities, we as a student body need to understand what are the true issues that are pulling the trigger.
State Street breaks the banks of students, ostracizes homeless population
Spend five minutes walking down State Street and the stark contrast between wealth and poverty in the downtown area of Madison becomes obvious. Well-to-do UW students and EPIC employees inhabit new high-rise apartment buildings like the HUB, swim in rooftop pools, go out to one of several dozen bars in the area and enjoy fancy coffee drinks and high-end meals from dozens of shops just steps from their front door.
At the same time, Madison’s homeless and displaced population sleeps in the culverts, under hangs and alleyways in the surrounding area. Income disparities can no longer be masked along State Street, nor can the homeless be shelved away under degrading ordinances while wealthy students watch from their balconies.
Will Mayor Paul Soglin choose to take a proactive stance against these income disparities, or will he continue allowing the elite to build their luxury apartments, dominating our city skyline. With so much at stake for the downtown area and its inhabitants on both sides of the glass door, this could be a fascinating semester as changes take place.
2018 gubernatorial race
Fall 2017 marks the beginning of the 2018 gubernatorial race in Wisconsin between Gov. Scott Walker and a growing list of Democrats looking to challenge him.
Though more than a year out, Democrats from around the state including longtime State Superintendent Tony Evers, State Rep. Dana Wachs, D- Eau Claire, Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik and State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D- Eau Claire, have already lined up to take their shots at the two term incumbent.
What will it take for a progressive to win the governor’s race in Wisconsin?At a time where the state Legislature and federal government is entirely Republican-controlled, a panel of state representatives and experts Read…
As the fall continues, even more Democrats will likely throw their hats in the ring, including popular State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton,, or even longtime Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. For Democrats, the race will almost certainly focus on Gov. Walker’s weaknesses, such as the state’s crumbling infrastructure and deficit issues, or perhaps even Walker’s unwillingness to truly condemn the vile and dangerous comments which continue to come from the White House.
Walker will instead hope to focus on what few positives his administration has offered for residents of the state, like the ongoing deal to potentially bring Taiwanese manufacturing giant FoxConn to Wisconsin or the administration’s refusal to raise taxes. In any case, in between arguing over taxes and roads, candidates on both sides of the aisle will undoubtedly pander to students with generic statements on making college more affordable.
Soglin’s potential candidacy exciting for left, but could leave Walker in officeIn Wisconsin, the Democrats are searching for a candidate that can finally defeat Gov. Scott Walker. Inspired by the success Read…
This fall, our responsibility as students is to challenge candidates on specifics when it comes to education in this state. Finding a candidate who will look after our UW System and the state’s many struggling school districts is paramount to this state’s long term success. It may not seem like it with the election more than a year away, but challenging these candidates now could make or break many of their fledgling campaigns.
Gov. Scott Walker’s Foxconn plan, if implemented, has the potential to create between 3,000 and 13,000 Wisconsin jobs by 2020. Foxconn manufactures LCD panels, and the plan, which revolves around constructing a manufacturing plant in House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district, is upward of a $3 billion investment from the state.
Concerns have arisen over predicted payout and its connection to the cost-per-job that will result from this audacious plan. Predicted payout is nestled somewhere between $200 to $250 million per year, which roughly translates to $15,000 to $19,000 per job — more than six times the typical cost-per-job seen in public incentive packages for a manufacturer. Additionally, Wisconsin would have to wait 25 years to break even on the plant, assuming financial analysis is accurate.
This bold economic plan, if implemented, shows the power of the Senate president and majority leader to implement economic reforms, however ill-advised. Virginia and Indiana already host Foxconn plants which employ less than 1,500 employees altogether, so a 13,000 employee target could be a challenging mark. Additionally, Pennsylvania was supposed to be the home of a third plant in 2013, which has yet to be built.
This plan has serious implications for the economic health of Wisconsin, especially if it fails. This is a typical example of a plan that requires patience to see growth, but the numbers could be too gaudy to risk.
Wisconsin Republicans making moves in DC
Beginning with the 2016 presidential election and continuing in recent months, Wisconsin has found itself becoming a more and more prominent political player. Not only was Wisconsin one of 11 deciding swing states in 2016, voting red for the first time since 1984, but outspoken Wisconsin Republican politicians such as U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., continue to make headlines.
Johnson, who has enjoyed his seat in the Senate since 2011, was an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump’s proposed plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, and voted against earlier drafts in the midst of a tirade of criticism aimed at his own party. Johnson remains critical of Trump’s healthcare plan as the GOP continues to work toward replacing Obamacare, claiming that “no matter what we pass, it’s not going to fix the whole problem.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, another Wisconsin Republican, has distanced himself from Trump on numerous occasions, most recently over Trump’s decidedly weak condemnation of the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville. Ryan’s reputation took a hit following the failure of his brain-baby, the American Health Care Act. His recent trend of distancing himself from Trump will not only make it more difficult for the president to push legislation through Congress, but will potentially influence how Ryan’s predominantly conservative constituents will vote in the 2018 elections.
Despite calls from his constituents, Sen. Johnson ghosts Madison community at open chair town hallAn open chair town hall meeting scheduled at the First Congregational United Church of Christ took an unexpected turn when Sen. Read…
Both Johnson and Ryan have used their political capital to bring issues in Wisconsin to the national stage, and have had a large influence on national legislation, such as healthcare. Their clout, and Ryan’s 2018 campaign for reelection, have the potential to shift Wisconsin’s political influence yet again in upcoming years.