“UWL administration is killing an already dying field”: School of Education students host protest

Image+taken+by+Morgan+Hose.

Image taken by Morgan Hose.

Morgan Hose, Assistant Editor

“ABCDEFG, School of Ed is killing me.”

This was one of many chants that met the ears of many University of Wisconsin-La Crosse students and faculty who were present on campus today. The School of Education (SOE) students and their supporters gathered at the Hoeschler Tower to protest the administration’s response to their complaints about the program.

From Student Association meetings to a social media presence, SOE students have been fighting for change in the school of education program and requirements as a whole. Conner Brekke and his peers organized this protest to raise awareness and voice their concerns. Students that attended the protest responded to the following questions:

 

“What are your hopes from this protest as we’re approaching summer?”

Conner Brekke, a third-year broad field social studies major, said, “I hope that over the summer we don’t lose steam. That is inevitable because no one will be around on campus. I am hoping that UWL makes a policy that guarantees a student as soon as they enroll here that they can graduate in four to four-and-a-half years, rather than five or more years.”

Anna Giese, a second-year secondary English education major, said, “I hope it starts a conversation because we can’t create change without it. The chalking was only one step, this protest is another, and I can’t wait to see where the next step will go.”

Sophie Alvarado, a second-year early childhood-middle childhood education major, said, “I hope that administration understands that not only SOE students but supporting friends and peers, are here speaking. We know that this is an issue and we are not in the shadows. I hope that they realize that what they’ve done cannot be swept under the rug.”

Maria Laurent, a third-year broad field social studies major, said, “I want the administration to know that we are not going to stop. This isn’t something that is going to end this summer. We are going to come back into the fall just as strong as we’re leaving it now.”

Jenna Withrow, a second-year early childhood-middle childhood education major, said, “I hope that Dean Wycoff-Horn pays attention to this and makes drastic changes immediately.”

One student, who chose to remain anonymous, said, “We are afraid of retaliation on behalf of the university. We have brought complaints up and been shot down so many times that I don’t know if I want to put my name out there. I want to be able to graduate and keep my head down.”

Anonymous, a third-year broad field social studies major, said, “We hope to raise awareness and to continue the push into next semester. We’re afraid that with the summer coming up that people are going to forget and we want to be able to teach, that’s the main point. We want to have an equitable pathway to teach.”

 

“What do you think about the professors and administration’s response to SOE students’ frustrations?”

Brekke: “It doesn’t surprise me, it feels like Joe Gow is more concerned with protecting his administrators than his students, which is unfortunate considering UWL prides itself on equity for all.”

Giese: “It is more administration than it is professors. I don’t think administration recognizes that their future students will be our students first and they’re killing an already dying field.”

Alvarado: “While this isn’t directly impacting me now, it can come down the chain and not only impact me and my peers but prospective students as well. The professors I have had have been outspoken that this isn’t something they are supporting, and it’s mostly administration. The way administration is covering this is disregarding the situation as a whole and trying to cover themselves rather than the students.”

Laurent: “I am angry at the administration. Professors support us, even if it was on the down-low. I do wish more professors that were tenured would come forward in support of us. I had a meeting with the administration that didn’t give me any hope. All they said for my situation was that they couldn’t promise me that I would get into the SOE or that I would graduate on time.”

Laurent will be completing five years at UWL to complete the SOE degree.

Withrow: “The lack of response from administration is unprofessional and unfair. Administration telling professors that they can’t talk to us about this situation is not okay, professors should be able to advocate for their students. I applaud my professors that have talked to us about it.”

Anonymous: “Professors haven’t been addressing these things, I think they are in a tough situation because they want to work with the administration. They are supportive of us, but they haven’t been able to join us. They haven’t been tentative to talk about things, but I know on the sidelines, they are trying to advocate for us and they hear our complaints, so that has been super helpful.”

One SOE professor, who chose to remain anonymous, said, “Faculty tried to communicate with the Dean’s office many years ago, but apparently our faculty voice didn’t carry any weight. We were either silenced or pushed back, and it became impossible to handle that, and at some point, we gave up.”

 

“If you could say one thing or give one piece of advice to prospective SOE students that are considering coming to UWL, what would you say?”

Brekke: “The professors are phenomenal, and you’re going to get a great education from them. They will prepare you very well to get into the classroom, but they won’t be able to teach you everything. Once you get into the classroom that is where you’ll learn more, but the issue with that is you might not get into the classroom when you expect to. The SOE is turning into a competitive school and they are not telling prospective students that. Be mindful of that when you decide to attend, but it is a great institution to get an education from.

Giese: “We’re passionate about the future, we’re going to make a good society, and we’re going to lead by example by protesting.”

Alvarado: “I would consider looking at other UW universities because there are so many things that UWL requires that are not necessary, such as edTPA and the iPad requirement. Look into those factors before coming and how they would impact not only your financial situation, but the entirety of your career.”

Laurent: “Don’t come. You will not graduate in time. You can go to so many other schools and get a master’s degree in less time than you would to get a bachelor’s degree at UWL.”

Withrow: “Don’t come. You will not graduate on time and you will get ripped off. I want to thank the professors that have been a huge support system for us, unlike the administration.”

Anonymous: “Don’t come.”

Anonymous Professor: “Speak up. I want to stand with students, these requests are valid and true. It reflects what I’ve been trying to teach through justice, truth, and equality. This is powerful speech.”

The protest concluded at the Hoeschler Tower where Chancellor Joe Gow said, “Fire the Dean? I think she’s a good person. I hope everyone knows that no one has it out for the students. We want you to be happy and successful. You might not think about this, but when you are an alumnus, word of mouth about your experience is important. If it’s not good, that’s something that would concern us. We’re trying. I respect your right to let your views be known.”