And as events and statements come out, it's pretty obvious the faculty are right to think that way. Take a look at this "can't we all just get along" silliness from UW-Madison Chancellor Becky Blank.
“That kind of positive and healthy relationship is incredibly important; it is important to the university and it is very important to the state,” Blank said. “The current relationship is not as healthy in my opinion.”It would be dangerous if the WisGOP Legislature was acting in anything resembling good faith. But they're not, as articles like this one from the weekend show that GOP legislators and Governor Walker believe that stoking the anger of rubes against best and brightest academics is a way to get votes for November 2016's elections, so they have no interest in being partners with the UW.
Blank spoke after a week in which Walker ridiculed “groaning” UW faculty for a stack of no-confidence votes in UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents. His press release prompted a rebuttal from the American Association of University Professors and a rating of “pants on fire” from the fact-checking website Politifact...
“The no confidences votes have obviously raised the ire of some legislators,” Blank remarked. “The response by the governor in his recent press release, I think, was neither healthy nor productive.
"But with dueling press releases, dueling op-eds, we are engaged in precisely the wrong conversation,” Blank said. “This is dangerous, should this continue.”
Mike Mikalsen, a spokesman for Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said voters don’t want to undo the changes Republicans have made.That's nice, isn't it? The only "beast" associated with the UW System is the economic beast that generates billions of dollars in current research and jobs, and it keeps the talent pipeline humming to keep the state competitive for the future. Funny how "pro-business" GOPs don't seem to get this.
“You can’t just feed the beast by throwing more state tax dollars in and more tuition money,” he said. “You have to force (the UW System) to adopt reasonable reforms to get them on the right track.”
There's another beauty in that article where former GOP chair and current Grocers lobbyist Brandon Scholz is quoted as saying "“It will be difficult to sell tenure when you apply it to what people do for jobs in their district." This is the same Brandon Scholz who wanted to end Wisconsin's child labor laws five years ago and is now calling the Obama Administration's requirement of overtime pay for low-income jobs "divisive, callous, uninformed." Apparently teenagers and low-wage workers don't exist in GOP districts, Brandon?
More proof that GOPs are not to be trusted on UW System funding came from today's article from Steve Walters in Urban Milwaukee. Walters quotes Assembly Speaker Robbin' Vos threatening to further reduce funding and faculty protections as a result of the faculty not sitting back and accepting their prior cuts and reductions in worker rights.
But, in a WisconsinEye interview at the Republican Party state convention, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called the faculty votes “not helpful” and a “big mistake on their part.”We'll leave out the silliness of Vos implying that there will be funds available in the next budget to give UW a funding increase anyway (there won't be as long as Walker is in office), but it shows that you can't negotiate with people like that. And ALEC authoritarians like Wee Wobbin' illustrate exactly why tenure needs to exist and be strengthened, because you bet that guy will put the kiobosh on any research that might show results such as a warming planet, the failure of trickle-down economics to raise revenues, or in the fact that voucher schools generally do not do any better with the same students than public schools (and many do worse).
Vos said he hopes he can keep state aid for the UW System in the next two-year state budget where it is now – $2.08 billion.
Vos’s statement sends this blunt message to UW faculty members with little or no faith in their bosses: You want state aid to the System increased? Not going to happen.
And, UW faculty should be thankful that legislators allowed the Regents to set new tenure guidelines because, Vos said, “I might have eliminated tenure altogether.” Vos said he only agreed to let the Regents enact new tenure guidelines at the request of Cross.
This is why UW have acted properly in turning up the heat and public attention with these no-confidence votes of UW System leadership and the Walker-stacked Board of Regents. Being kind and acquiescing to the GOP leadership is exactly what those anti-intellectual thugs want, and it won't result in better funding or freedoms. So why not fight and work to get those thugs out of power, both by raising public awareness of the issue, and in actively supporting the election of pro-UW legislators in November to flip the State Senate and stop some of those cuts from happening? This includes Diane Odeen taking out GOP State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (who "represents" River Falls and Stout) and Mark Harris winning the open seat in the Oshkosh-Fond du Lac area.
I know it's uncouth in some corners for academics to take political sides in statewide battles, but decency has been out the window in Fitzwalkerstan for more than 5 years, and it is well past time for UW administration, professors, staff to take on the combative stance that this dire situation requires.