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The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

Fund UW Now: A rally to hold legislators responsible for lack of funding

Photo taken by Laura Godden.

On Friday, March 1, teachers, students and members of the La Crosse community gathered around Hoeschler Tower to support the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)-Wisconsin and to hear from Jill Billings, Wisconsin Assembly Representative for District 95, and La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds. Other speakers included Student Association members as well as UW System professors. 

AFT-Wisconsin is a union of professionals who are in roles in the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Technical College System, public schools and other state agencies throughout the state of Wisconsin. AFT was founded in Chicago in 1916 and has since grown nationwide with a total number of 1.72 million members. 

The first speaker was Representative Billings who emphasized the need for a well-funded UW System. She said, “We need a strong, funded, UW System… Over time, the state funding has declined.”

Billings explained that as state funding for schools decreases, the burden on students to compensate for the lack of funding increases. “There is a greater burden on students now, and that simply should not be.”

Between each speaker, there were rounds of chants by the crowd,  ranging from chants like, “Fund Higher Ed,” to, “Fund our Students, Fund UW Now” and “Fund our Campus.” 

The next speaker, La Crosse mayor Mitch Reynolds, a UWL graduate, explained the impact of having a UW System school in La Crosse, calling UWL the most significant institution in the region. He emphasized the impact of  higher education and said, “This place is transformational.” 

Reynolds concluded his speech by advocating for funding higher education to not only keep tuition low but also to support the educators who are transforming students’ lives.

Current UWL students, including Student Association (SA) members Avery Ladd-Winders and Armando Garcia, as well as former SA member Terra Clark, delivered speeches highlighting the need for increased funding for UW System schools.

Ladd-Winders said, “Research and creating an impact are some of the main drivers for our faculty and factors in why they chose to come to our institution and we need to support that in order to retain high quality, dedicated and supportive instructors.” 

Ladd-Winders called on students to reach out to their state representatives and spread awareness about policies funding higher education. He said, “It’s evident that the current system, they’ve lost sight of their current mission due to excessive lobbying, political agendas and personal interests. The focus must return to providing the best possible education and support for everyone on campus and in the state of Wisconsin.” 

More information regarding funding that has been taken from the UW System can be found here, the AFT website provides information on the union that made this event possible and information regarding the people making decisions regarding the UW System funding can be found here

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About the Contributor
Jackson Skarp
Jackson Skarp, Student Government Reporter
  • Year at UWL: Sophomore
  • PGPs: He/Him/His
  • Hometown: Cottage Grove, MN
  • Major: Communication Studies
  • Minor: Legal Studies and Philosophy
  • Other Campus Involvement: Pre-Law Society Member
  • Future Plans after Graduation: I plan on attending law school after graduation
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Finding new coffee shops to study at.
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