Chancellor Mone said he has been talking with state legislators across the aisle to explain how the budget cuts could potentially affect the UW-Milwaukee campus.
Mone addressed the Student Association at UWM during their senate meeting Sunday night, and told the students that in the past week he has met with four republican and two democratic legislators, whom he did not name, and the lieutenant governor.
“They were open,” Mone said. “I think they recognize… the governor’s at large ambitions, and we have to be here in the state and recognize the consequences.”
Mone reiterated that he is concerned about magnitude of the budget cuts, and the effect it will have on the immediate future of UWM. He also said, though, that the strident cuts are not detrimental to the future of the university.
“To put this in perspective to you as students here: this building will not fall, not Golda Meir library, Sandburg; we’re a solid, strong institution,” Mone said. “Maybe in three or four years we’re stronger and better.”
Although Mone shed a positive light on the situation, Student Body President Ryan Sorenson said that the chancellor is as worried as anyone about the cuts.
“In meetings that I’ve had with him, and in his plenary, he said is very concerned about the impact that this will have,” Sorenson said.
Mone told the student government that he supports the idea of autonomy promised by Walker, but he wants to see clear guidelines sooner than later.
“I would rather see the potential for flexibilities first, before we talk about any kind of budget,” Mone said.
The chancellor also said that he is hopeful that during the legislative process the cuts will be lowered to less than the about $300 million anticipated. The budget proposed by Walker has to be revised and passed by the Joint Finance Committee and then state legislature before it returns to the governor’s desk for the final signature.
“Things change along the way,” Mone said. “I see certainly the possibility for this to go a lot of different ways.”
He also said that is not sure about how the cut would be allocated throughout the UW System. Based on the percentage UWM used in the last budget, the campus fears a cut around $20 million per year. But in the new budget, the percent can be split in different ways.
“I’m biased, but I honestly believe this is the best investment that the school can make, so I’m arguing that we should get a differential that’s positive,” Mone said.
After the meeting, the office of the chancellor sent out an email throughout the university, encouraging students and faculty to reach out to lawmakers in Madison. Part of the email reads:
I encourage you to contact your local state legislators to tell them about the positive impact UWM has had on you, your family and our community. And ask them to reduce the proposed cut to the UW System budget, while granting more flexibility so that we can do our jobs more efficiently.
Mone said he has also been in contact with some UW chancellors and has drafted a letter for all the chancellors within the the UW System.
“I’ve talked to about half of them and they’re all looking forward to that, and believe in a united arms type of perspective,” Mone said.
After the chancellor spoke, the Student Association voted to table a resolution written on the state budget until further discussion. Vice President of Student Affairs Evan Braun, who helped write the resolution, said that the proposal would be “UW-Milwaukee’s official statement against Governor Walker’s proposal.”
Part of the resolution reads:
That the students of UWM officially denounce Governor Scott Walker’s proposed 300 million dollar budget cut to the UW System and the reformation of UW system from the state entity to a public authority
That the students of UWM encourage members of the state legislature and Governor Walker to invest in the UW System or find definite funding models that will not result in the stagnation or destruction of academic and student life programs within the UW System.
The Dean of Students Timothy Gordon also spoke during the meeting and reminded the student senate of protest guidelines after two protests against the budget cuts were displayed last week. He reminded them that protests’ locations and routes must be registered in advance, and students cannot use amplified sound in the union, both rules which were broken during the protest by the Progressive Students of Milwaukee last week.
“We want to be supportive of students who want to offer their perspective no matter what that will be,” Gordon said. “But we want to make sure the message is not lost because we don’t follow those things.”
Photos by John J. Ward.