“They haven’t done anything”: Student leaders speak on the UWL School of Education


Morris Hall, the primary SOE building. Image retrieved from uwlax.edu

Easton Moberg, Student Government Reporter

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse spring 2023 semester is coming to a close, and the issues that reside within the School of Education (SOE) continue. According to the UWL SOE website, approximately 900 students are enrolled in teacher education programs at UWL. SOE is overseen by Dean Marcie Wycoff-Horn and Interim Associate Dean Adrienne Loh.

Anna Giese and Maria Laurent were two of the SOE students interviewed in May of 2022 in a Racquet Press article covering the SOE protests on campus. The Racquet Press sat down again with both Giese and Laurent to hear about the persisting SOE issues.

Giese is a third-year student double majoring in English education and public communication, and Laurent is a fourth-year broadfield social studies education major.

“What are the current issues that are affecting SOE?”

Giese: What aren’t the current issues? The iPads are a major problem. Housing is an issue because housing here ends in May, but we are still required to student-teach until early June. A lot of housing companies don’t allow us to stay the extra time and SOE does not give us an alternative housing plan. So, a lot of people are either homeless, moving back home, or have to drive over an hour to get to their placements. There is a detachment from administration to faculty and students. There have been faculty meetings that ask for administration to not be included because it is such a hostile environment.

Laurent: The iPad requirement is a big one and having to complete the edTPA is another big one. But this really picked up last spring because people were being denied placements [in student teaching positions] … People have this expectation that they will graduate in four years. It has set a lot of people back that they are getting denied placements. Once people are in the program, there are still problems finding them a student teaching placement, which is absurd. Once you are in the program, you should be fine, you should be set. So, the fact that people are still being denied access is silliness.

“What are students doing to fix the issues affecting SOE?”

Giese: It has been really hard… A lot of the leaders of the protest either transferred or decided to change majors. I have reached out to the protest Instagram (@UWLEdMajors), and I have talked with another SOE senator about what we could do, but we just don’t have the numbers. We want to start something big.

Laurent: A lot of what students can do is talk to administrators and be continuously pushing back on them. Any excuse that they have given us we have found a solution for, and any excuse they have given us has not been acceptable in our minds. There is no legitimate reason for this to be happening. That is what students need to be doing; sending emails, having meetings, and telling new students that are looking at La Crosse for education to not come here. I myself have turned away a lot of people and I know many others that have done the same.

“What are the barriers to graduating from the SOE program?”

Giese: They are capping off enrollment in our biggest programs in SOE. The history program was capped off last year. They are capping off early education, physical education, and middle education as well. They are going to tighten enrollment in admissions to those programs so that those students will have to take an extra semester to a year. That requires money and has no reimbursement for housing or driving.

Laurent: Mostly what is stopping people from graduating on time is that initial getting into the School of Education in the first place. The other barriers are really in regard to people getting denied placements. When I applied last semester there were 20 students that applied and only nine spots for field for social studies education students… So, a lot of those students are behind a semester now, and there are people that applied again and did not get in who are now behind a year. Another barrier is the iPad requirement which is a financial barrier… Most students who are in the School of Education have never once used it for School of Education purposes. I still have not picked up my iPad.

“What has the administration done to help students in SOE?”

Giese: I feel like we are just both yelling at each other. Students are yelling to be heard, and the Administration is yelling back because they are not in control… Honestly, the administration has not done much… Everyone is waiting for something to happen, but the pushback is just so hard.

Laurent: Nothing, they haven’t done anything… They have made it harder for students. I know many people who have been really screwed over by SOE administration… They have really made it more difficult, by giving continuous excuses that we have solutions to.

“What are your thoughts on the deans of SOE?”

Giese: Having meetings with them is like being cornered… Their communication style is ineffective, harmful and hostile. They will switch your words around… When I had a meeting with them about iPads, I asked about doing a rental service. They said, ‘I don’t think you understand.’ I have yet to use my iPad for anything. They tried to do a donation program, where SOE students would purchase iPads and donate them back to other students. But, if I have to pay $500 for an iPad, I would rather sell it because it is over a month of rent for me.

Laurent: I think it is on a lot of the administrators. The dean, Marci is who I have had the most contact with and who I have talked to the most. Some of the fault is definitely on her for not making any move in our eyes. If she is making any effort, she does not do a good job communicating that with anyone… The administrators that oversee finding the field placements, a lot of faults are on them. Cindy Duley [a field experience partnerships specialist], a lot of faults are on her. I think a lot of those upper administration are at fault. I think some people at the university level do not care, and they make no effort to look into anything that is going on, exhibit A: Joe Gow.

“What has changed since last year?”

Giese: The worst is yet to come. It is only getting worse. Enrollment is dwindling, and there is a lot of anger. There has been no change other than capping off our biggest programs… Which is infuriating for someone who has wanted to be a teacher for so long.

Laurent: Nothing. I think for a lot of students the only thing that has changed is that they are burnt out. Last spring, we were doing chalking and other activism. But it is much quieter now. A lot of that is because we are so hopeless, we do not really know what else to do. There has been so much pushback and so much antagonism from the administration. There has been no other efforts made for change.

“Would you recommend that students come to UWL for SOE?”

Giese: No. I am very lucky to be in field and live my dream of becoming a teacher. Like I tell my students right now in our social issues unit, I always ask them what they love and what they are angry about because I believe the best activism is equal parts love and anger. We definitely have the anger part of it, but we need to show them that we love not just what we do, but our students and our community.

Laurent: Myself and my friends have turned away a lot of prospective students. I have talked to a dozen high schoolers and first-year students who are doing education… We have turned dozens and dozens and dozens of students away. Not being able to graduate in four years is such a deterrent.

“Is there anything else you would like to add?”

Giese: Get rid of the required testing. There is no need for me to pay $300 for a test, purchase a licensure which is over $150, and buy an iPad for a requirement… There is no need to punish professors who tried to double up on putting students in a classroom when the teachers in field are able to take two students. Administration needs to stop punishing the professors because that impacts the students.

Laurent: I want to reiterate how much we appreciate our professors and how much we love our professors. When people say that La Crosse has a really good education program, they are referring to the professors… We love our professors; we hate the administration. The administration has been so incredibly disappointing, letting everyone down, and screwing everyone over. They are making everyone’s life so much more difficult… I feel like they are putting in an effort to make this harder for people.

To read about the SOE in past Racquet Press articles, click any of the links below: