Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson’s statement to Nick Schultz.
“What do you want? Funding! When do you want it? Now!”
A winter storm warning did not deter UW system student organizers, alumni, and faculty from marching to the Board of Regents Office in opposition to a proposal to eliminate 13 majors from UW-Stevens Point.
Olivia De Valk, a senior English major at UW-Stevens Point, responded to suggestions that perhaps only UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee should offer these majors, including political science, English, and art.
“I am here to oppose this dangerous and pervasive idea. I could not be an English major today if my only options were UW-Madison or UW-Milwaukee,” De Valk says. “As a first-generation college student, I would not have been able to afford it.”
Faculty members from UW-Madison also attended the march and preceding press conference in solidarity with UW system students.
“We call on the Chancellors of UW-Superior and UW-Stevens Point, on UW System President Ray Cross, the Board of Regents, the Governor, and State legislature to recommit themselves to the Wisconsin Idea by working with us, faculty, staff, and students, to strengthen, not diminish, the quality of our state universities, to improve access and affordability, and to widen, not narrow, the range of educational choices available to our students,” Professor of Sociology at UW-Madison Chad Goldberg declares, summarizing the organizers’ broad demands.
Goldberg, who is also the President of the United Faculty & Academic Staff, a labor union for faculty and staff at UW, affirmed that the organization supported their colleagues and students across the UW system.
While the majority of students present today hailed from UW-Stevens point, Aimee Peterson, a third-year psychology student at UW-Superior, managed to make the trek to Madison to stand with her peers.
For UW-Stevens Point graduate Valerie Landowski, the cuts proposed at her institution will ultimately affect other UW system schools and their broader communities.
“We’ve had to push our administration to be open to listening to students and faculty members as well as community members and business members within the Stevens Point community, because this is a community campus,” Landowski says. “All of our schools are community campuses, and the ripples that affect UW-Stevens Point will affect the community.”
Following a “Save Our Majors” protest at UW Stevens Point in late March, the Academic Affairs Committee of the UW-Stevens Point Common Council began meeting to evaluate the feasibility of addressing the $4.5 million structural deficit without eliminating humanities majors.
UW-Stevens Point Chancellor Bernie Patterson delivered a statement about today’s demonstration in an email to WORT from Nick Schultz, a university spokesperson. “At UW-Stevens Point, we ground our students in critical and creative thinking, problem solving, and civic engagement. Their passion to engage elected and appointed officials on important issues in our state is a natural outcome of a quality education,” writes Chancellor Patterson.
Schultz also said that the Academic Affairs Committee chair declined comment on what direction a response may take before May 2.