UWSP Students Protest Proposed Cuts With Demonstration, Sit-in
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — Slathers of UWSP students stood in solidarity on Wednesday afternoon in response and protest to the proposed discontinuation of 13 liberal arts programs.
City Times staff have covered both sides of the spectrum for this ongoing, and unfolding issue, and this is just one of many likely chapters to this story to come. Today, students voiced their concern in silent protest for a 13-minute sit-in through the halls of Old Main, and then later at the sundial. At the sundial, many speakers were on hand, including candidate for Governor Andy Gronik, and 71st Assembly District Representative Katrina Shankland.
University staff were also on hand to speak to students and community members, as Chancellor Bernie Patterson did attempt to speak with the crowd along with other administrators. According to Patterson, humanities programs will continue at UWSP, which you can read here.
While seen with good intentions, many of the students didn’t react well to such.
“There were so many administrators that said ‘hello’ and asked how we were doing and I just kept walking; keeping my silence in protest of the lack of care towards the arts humanities.” said UWSP Acting and Philosophy Major Jaya White.
Throughout the day, the scene was that of vehicles who honked in support as they drove by, and signs that read ‘Where is Your Humanity? It’s Been Cut’ held by protesting students. Katrina Reigh is a double major in Arts Management and Drama with a Minor in Communications, and attended the sit-in portion of the demonstration.
“It was great to see so many people come out to the event,” said Reigh. “The chancellor greeted us as we came inside but people aren’t very happy with him, so it was interesting — the 13 minutes of silence were very moving.”
However, the demonstration wasn’t just that, as many on hand put forth potential solutions for the continued budget cuts to the university that extends beyond Stevens Point, and has affected multiple universities across the state.
“This was also a really cool event for people to try and find solutions; there was voter registration, ways to contact and write legislators, and after the sit-in there were a lot of speakers there,” said Reigh. “It was a great event and I’m glad I could participate and do what I could to help.”
Student Government Association Chief-of-Staff and Senior Political Science and Water Resources Major Robby Abrahamian was also on hand to witness the event — an event where many students are acting on their passions towards liberal arts programs.
“Students and faculty are mobilizing quickly and it shows how passionate the UWSP community is, how they are able to organize and engage in a very civil manner, and how the faculty have empowered us to think critically and lead on these issues.” said Abrahamian.
Going forward, Abrahamian, like many students, simply want a seat at the table.
“I would like to see a more inclusive dialogue, with all stakeholders represented,” said Abrahamian. “I would like to see a couple counter proposals created with more people at the table, and I believe the administrators are open to this kind of dialogue. Given the budget cuts, it is clear that some things need to be cut, but I would like to see the legislature fund the tuition freeze, and just increase UW funding in general.”
There are still many months left in this passionate battle of wits, cuts, and humanities. The next protest of its kind is slated for April 12.