May 23, 2013 § 1 Comment
Check out Angus’ post over at studentactivism for a great overview of the issue: http://studentactivism.net/2013/05/23/save-uc/
This is huge. Remember Arizona? Well yeah this is like about as bad as it gets without being Arizona. It means that United Council will not be able to collect a mandatory refundable fee of $3 from each student each semester.
What’s different than Arizona? United Council is a (c)3 which means it is already prohibited from making political contributions and it is a nonpartisan organization.
The fee will now be an opt-in fee. That’s essentially “right to work;” the same thing they did to unions in Wisconsin for students. For those that don’t see the problem, 36.09(5) entrusts students to make decisions that primarily affect student life.
The fee was decided on by students at United Council in conjunction with System Reps and UW System (see the following information).
This is shared with me from Tyler Borkowski a former United Council Board member, on how the fee actually works:
We upped the MRF 2 years ago in June through the BoR from $2 per semester per student to $3. Students eliminated the mandatory referendum every two years when a committee set out by Student Reps (editor’s note: a group of all the presidents and vice presidents of student governments across the state) to consult UW System changed 30-4 (editor’s note: a system policy).
It is now that a SGA must first vote to enact a referendum (or like 5-10% of the student population must sign a petition to enact one) at that point they must notify UC and system 30 days ahead of time that they are going to run a referendum. Then the students vote if they want to be a member campus of UC.
The kicker: United Council is the nation’s oldest statewide student association. It is a voice for students and has been instrumental in winning a tuition cap–now a tuition freeze. I think it stands true that when something gets powerful, the powerful will try to shut it down. This is United Council at its zenith. There are hundreds of students that attend the conferences. There were dozens of students providing bipartisan input on the state budget. This is a nonpartisan organization!
How’s it look? Honestly, not great. We need to mobilize tens of thousands of students around this if we have a chance. Not only that but we have a Republican controlled legislature and a Republican Governor who is, well, Scott Walker. There isn’t a better day for student power.
May 13, 2013 § 2 Comments
Wow! Four years just flew by. I came into school thinking I wanted to be a mechanical engineer or do international studies and I ended up getting interested in Afro-American studies as well as Chicana/Latina studies. I ended up doing some version of an ethnic studies major with an emphasis on race politics as I like to tell people.
Moving from little old Lodi to the Multicultural Learning Community was one of the best decisions of my life. I went into college not ever thinking about my own race to thinking about race on the daily.
I had some great professors including Friedman, Lindsay, Thornton, Werner, Shashko, Higgins, Shelef, Ringe, Loewenstein, Marquez, and some others who I didn’t have that I met throughout my four years: Goldrick-Rab, Ibarra… there are some great faculty at this university.
I took some great classes: Soul Music, Black Music, Black Feminist Theory, Politics of the World Economy, Politics of Revolution, Politics in a Multicultural Society, Intro to Latin America, Arabic, Spanish, I feel totally privileged and blessed to have been here.
I made some great friends. I lived in some great places. I saw some great sights. I heard great poetry and slam poetry and rap and world music. I fell in and out of love. I want to reflect on a few specific things I did and present some advice (take it or leave it) to whoever stumbles upon it.
I was involved with several different community and campus organizations. From reclaiming foreclosed houses with Operation Welcome Home and Take Back the Land (with the visionary Max Rameau), to working with the Student Labor Action Coalition, the Teaching Assistants Association, Associated Students of Madison, United Council, United States Student Association, and the Learning for the Empowerment and Advancement of Palestinians, to All Hands on Deck and Vote Mob, to the National Student Power Convergence, to Opportunity Nation and Young People For. I’ve seen a lot of community, campus, state, and national organizations at work.
I hope to someday work for one or several of them. I want to do political organizing in some way, shape, or form for the rest of my life.
The advice: I feel the need to tell people to get involved! Just do it! We only have, like 6o more years on this Earth and things ain’t getting any better for most people out there. In fact, I’d argue they’re getting a hell of a lot worse.
As a first year I listened to everything everyone I knew said and tried to absorb as much of it. My opinions are still malleable but they were extra-malleable back then. Now I think I am more comfortable with who I am, my race, my dedication to justice, equity, and freedom for all people regardless of how they identify, that I can not only listen, but be assertive in my own opinions.
Something that has really begun to irk me is the way that campus organizations are so seemingly divided. We are working for roughly the same thing–acknowledging that there is a great amount of racism on this campus and that white privilege does really limit the ability of people who are white to work with folks of other races because they unintentionally and intentionally oppress others–on campus at least I don’t think everyone can work together and I’m not sure it will ever work. I am hoping UW-Madison will be graced and uplifted by a model of interracial organizing we have yet to truly see.
Nationally, I see a lot of organizations trying to work on the same thing. Take student debt for example. There are organizations with millions of dollars and millions of people who are working on it and I don’t think we’ve even made a dent on the issue! Do we need to align our campaigns to make sure we are all at least using the same messaging? I’d say yes. But honestly, let’s take it a step further, and create a campaign with the same messaging, visuals, let’s share resources and connect our membership! Let’s devote research to new economic models, let’s fundraise collectively to support young interns and treat them with respect and dignity and pay them right.
Okay this is just starting to spew all over the place, the last thing I want to say is that lately I have been challenged a lot by the way people talk about the work we do. I don’t have any issue with people critiquing the work I do personally (in fact, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?).
I love a good challenge. I can’t really stand hearing people talk about me behind my back but such is life, life is too short, this shouldn’t be read as frustration or even an accusation it’s just something I’ve been meaning to say.
I’m going to keep doing the same damn thing I’ve been doing this last four years: reading, writing, doing art, figuring out who I am and why I’m on this planet, trying to fight for climate justice, fighting for justice, equity, and freedom in race relations and for gender and sexuality justice, the whole nine yards.
One of the coolest privileges I had was traveling: going to a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon and traveling to Mexico to meet with #YoSoy132 were not only huge privileges but also incredibly humbling and transformative. I miss those kids in Lebanon so much and I hope to go back as soon as I can. When I think about how terrible things are in the United States that always puts it in more perspective. To my friends in the movement in Mexico, I am blessed to call you friends and I hope we can continue to work in global solidarity for more just and dignified immigration policy and generally for better living conditions for everyone world-wide.
Taking Astronomy was also a sobering experience this semester. What was at first just a routine way to fill a science requirement really opened my eyes to how expansive the Universe really is. It speaks to my experiences on Earth too: there’s a whole planet out there, and although sometimes my own conditions and others’ seem dire, there are lots of people facing incredibly rough situations out there too. Let’s do what we can to work to change the real conditions of everyones’ lives while at the same time having a little bit of fun and living a fulfilling life despite the fact we are just ants on another anthill in the entire Universe.
If you have questions or comments holler below. I didn’t set out trying to say much in this post I just want to thank everyone who has given me so much and allowed me to be the best I think I can be. I look forward to the next few years, hopefully traveling as much as I can, working for some organizations if possible, graduate school if I can raise the funds, and hopefully running for office in the near or distant future.
April 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Here’s my testimony from the press conference on WISPIRG the other day:
My name is Maxwell Love and I’m a representative with the Associated Students of Madison student council. As a member of student government I believe that we are fiscally responsible with how we allocate our funds and it is disappointing to see the Chancellor has no faith in students’ decision making capability.
I know that the SSFC takes their role in allocating over 42 million of seg fees seriously and that they strive to be responsible and go through a rigorous process of determining where to allocate seg fees in order to best serve students.
A few weeks ago SSFC unanimously voted to submit an appeal to the Regents to defend their decision to grant WISPIRG funding including their professional staff. As a member of the student government I am concerned with the Chancellor’s refusal to respect our decision regarding the allocation of these fees without consulting us.
I hope the regents will recognize that unless we are making a policy or legal error the Regents should reinstate the professional staff funding. Also I hope they recognize that we are simply students trying to exercise our responsibility in shared governance by funding awesome programs to make campus a better place and we are being told: no.
Lastly, as part of this university where we claim to cherish the Wisconsin Idea the notion that we take what we learn from the classroom and roll up our sleeves and apply it to problems spanning to the bounds of this state, this decision by the Chancellor does NOT further this idea instead it squashes a program like WISPIRG that embodies everything I hold dear at UW-Madison.
April 14, 2013 § Leave a Comment
There’s a bunch of stuff going on this week, next week, and throughout the rest of the semester that you’re not going to want to miss!
Here’s a small calendar of events for this week:
- 12:00PM Thursday at the Memorial Union Rathskellar: Nelini Stamp (formerly of Dream Defenders, now Working Families Party) will speak on her involvement in the student movement and the issue of student loan debt
- 4:00PM Thursday on Bascom Hill: rally with Palermo’s workers to tell Chancellor Ward to cut the contract
- 12:00PM Friday at Memorial Union Rath: Felipe Matos (formerly Trail of DREAMs, Presente.org, now GetEQUAL) will speak on his walk from Florida to Washington D.C. with three DREAMers to talk about immigration
- 6:30PM Friday at Memorial Union Tripp Commons: students will speak on their experiences organizing on campus and more
- 7:15PM (same): breakout session with Max Berger (Occupy), Molly Shack (Ohio Student Association), and Nelini
- 8:00PM: Felipe will keynote State of the Student Movement in the Rest of the Decade
And next week is the April Convention for United Council of UW Students where next year’s leadership will be selected!
April 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
The next battle in the right’s war against young people is playing out in Arizona.
On April 5, Governor Jan Brewer signed into law HB 2169. The bill specifies that a university cannot transfer money to student organizations if that money will then be used to influence “the outcome of an election or to advocate support for or opposition to pending or proposed legislation. Additionally, if the bill were passed, a student enrolled in a university would have to consent to the transfer of their tuition or fees to a specified student organization. Without consent, the fees would not be transferred.
This bill is a clear act of retribution against the student association by Brewer and her allies. In last year’s election cycle, the Arizona Students Association (ASA) spent around $122,000 in support of Proposition 204, which would have approved a one cent tax increase for education spending. Instead of working with students to hold tuition down and fund affordable higher education, Brewer decided to attack students’ right to get involved in politics.
In the past, similar measures to ban the use of student fees in politics have failed in the Arizona state house. This time around, the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank, threw its weight into the fight. In its report pushing for the ban on the use of student fees in politics, the institute named other states with strong student associations where similar legislation could be pursued.
As a student in Wisconsin, I have seen the damage done by a rogue state legislature and an over-zealous governor. The parallels are striking in the way they came for the unions in my state, and the way they are destroying student organizations in Arizona. As with anti-collective bargaining legislation in the Midwest, and defunding Planned Parenthood across the country, the Republicans are trying to suppress the voice of any group they can’t win over in elections.
Students and student organizations are being retaliated against for supporting unpopular positions with the right. The move comes at a time when Republicans nationally are trying to rebrand the party to reach out to young people. Statewide student associations, along with their national counterparts, are vital to establishing student’s voice in politics. These organizations spend most of their time educating young people about electoral and other political issues and registering them to vote.
Arizonans are not strangers to such hostile politics. SB 1070 set the precedent nationwide for anti-immigrant legislation. Now students are feeling the heat as the right sets a target and continues to pick off their political opposition one-by-one. This time it’s in Arizona—but next time it could be anywhere.
Max Berger and Jackson Foote contributed to this piece.
April 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
Hey all. In May I will be graduating. Phi Beta Kappa invited inductees to submit sample speeches for our induction ceremony so I thought I would share mine here as a way to recap my four years at UW-Madison. Ultimately, mine wasn’t selected but these are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned at this university.
I didn’t know much about Phi Beta Kappa when I received my membership letter so I casually talked to a few people about it and accidentally threw my letter away then didn’t give it another thought.
Over spring break, my dad mentioned my acceptance to my grandfather at the dinner table and his face lit up. He proceeded to tell me that my great-great-grandmother, Anna Norsman, was also accepted to Phi Beta Kappa at UW-Madison in 1898. Wow, a whole 115 years ago.
My father had told me I was a fifth generation Madison student but I never really knew how to talk about it. I think I used to be a bit guilty that my family has had access to this university for five generations.
There are a few things I want to talk about today: responsibility, soul, happiness, sadness, and failure. And of course, what a “love of learning” has to do with all of these things.
First off, I wonder why the word ‘accountability’ has any place in our lexicon? In a lecture on the education system in Finland, author Pasi Sahlberg said, “there’s no word for accountability in Finnish […] accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.” Thus, accountability assumes expectations while responsibility ensures ownership.
Let’s try making the switch from accountability to responsibility.
For example, is it our job to hold our elected officials accountable, or is it our time to take responsibility and make concrete improvements in the lives of our friends, families, and fellow citizens?
I think it’s our job as a generation, as scholars with a “love of learning,” to take responsibility to ensure that education is accessible to all regardless of socioeconomic status and identity so that others can share in our love.
This, at least, has seemed to help me switch the way I talk about being a fifth generation student.
One of the best classes I ever took at the UW was “Soul Music and the Civil Rights Movement” taught by Professor Craig Werner. The reason I loved this class wasn’t so much that Professor Werner gave us music for every class, nor the fact that we listened to that great soul music for half of every power lecture. It was the way in which the way the music connected to the struggle of people who are Black and Brown in the United States.
As a white person who minored in Afro-American studies, perhaps the greatest thing I’ve learned about myself at UW-Madison was about what it means to be white. The irony, eh? What I mean was that learning about white privilege unlocked a set of new doors in my life, the most important being the door to my soul.
It’s like hearing music, but not really listening. To take it a step further, it’s like listening to the music but not really feeling. It’s like being friends with yourself but not really loving yourself. We are here because we love learning but we also must make it our life long project to love ourselves.
Soul music taught me the joy of the blues. To quote James Baldwin, “now joy is a true state, it is a reality; it has nothing to do with what most people have in mind when they talk of happiness, which is not a real state and does not really exist.”
Another seemingly odd thing I learned at UW-Madison is that joy [what we oft confuse for happiness] is really sometimes sadness. If we reposition our perspective, not only can the saddest moments lead to joy, but also they can be joy in and of themselves.
One of the saddest moments for me throughout college was when my good friend, and noted First Wave scholar, John Vietnam died last August on campus.
One of songs he wrote, which begins with the dedication “if I win this contest I’m going to donate $250 to Children of Vietnam” goes something like this, “if I could find lines just to spit them in the verse, to fix the prisons and the schisms, I’d be finished with my work.”
Ultimately Nam passed away before he was able to end the school-to-prison pipeline. To most people, this would suggest that he failed. Honestly, thinking about Nam brings me joy because I have come to realize failure is essential to success.
Not only do I have no doubt that had he lived, he would have been up to the tall order but also that his music lives on forever. Nam, in immortality you are successful.
A liberal arts education is really about connections right? That’s why they make us take a wide range of subject material and we see the connections in all of it, or so they told me as I enrolled in a bunch of science requirements.
This education has mainly taught me to see connections in ways outside of the classroom. That’s why I was blown away when Nam’s song stopped abruptly halfway through and featured a version of this popular quote by Grace Lee Boggs; “instead of just complaining about these things, instead of just protesting about these things, we begin to look for, and hope for, another way of living.” I had read Boggs’ book way back before I ever knew John and here she was again, albeit remixed into one of my friend’s songs. My guess is she’ll keep popping up throughout my life just as Nam’s music will.
I’ve never been one for long speeches so I’d like to wrap this up by saying congratulations. Heck, I wouldn’t even be here had my grandpa not paid my membership fee. He is the one who made me think to take responsibility to share some of my favorite quotes with you.
The only thing I really want to tell you is that it’s okay to feel. To me, a life time of learning must take be accompanied by a responsibility to use our education to grow our souls, to find joy in sadness, and to devote our lives to our cause of education, just as Sahlberg, Baldwin, Nam, and Boggs have done. Ultimately we must fail. The most successful of us have failed and out of failure has come our greatest success.
April 4, 2013 § 4 Comments
So, I can’t take the credit for suggesting “lame duck” (however much I detest the use of the word lame) as a proper categorization for the way Dr. Ward is finishing up his tenure as UW-Madison Chancellor, but I think it’s incredibly fitting.
I dare say it fits as snug as a glove. The way Chancellor Ward is treating shared governance on campus is detestable.
For those of you who haven’t been following along, here’s my version. WISPIRG was granted a contract. Chancellor Ward took out any funds that were budgeted to pay professional staff.
He claims “the rules of F50 state that segregated fees cannot be used to pay the salaries of non-university employees.”
He goes on to state that “payments for salaries can only be done via contract.” Cool, so if WISPIRG is able to secure a contract they should be able to pay their staff. The Chancellor claims that the process determined by the SSFC does not meet the provisions of F50.
The kicker? No one in UW-Madison administration or System will provide language from F50 that suggests SSFC’s process is incorrect. Furthermore, my reading of F50–heavily supported by the fact 36.09(5) gives us the right to designate our fees as we see fit–would suggest otherwise.
After F50 was created, WISPIRG was given a contract three times.
So… a couple of emails later and I’m told that essentially I don’t understand F50, but that they don’t have to show me what in F50 precludes SSFC from granting the contract to WISPIRG as they’ve done twice now.
Oh by the way, WISPIRG was just denied its budget again and the Chancellor waited until the last possible day of appeal to the Regents to release his decision, and then moved the appeal date back to April 12th.
It’s downright disrespectful the way Chancellor Ward thinks he can treat these issues as if they don’t matter and as if the shared governance processes are irrelevant.
I am disappointed by the Chancellor’s action, or inaction, however you look at it. He’s got a few months left and decides what he does can’t be questioned. Shared governance needs to be more than just consulted, it deserves to be respected and a student process for allocating fees is being continuously overruled.
The way I see it there are two options: a) the Chancellor backs down b) the Chancellor decides that he will support the decision of students and 4,500 other students who signed a petition supporting WISPIRG and will approve the budget.
April 3, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I’m trying to make this brief.
Check this out for a mini-timeline of what’s been going on.
Check out this post for an update to the records request I submitted to UW-Madison administration on February 8th and finally received over break.
So what’s up? What’s going on? Where does it all fall down?
The Worker’s Rights Consortium (WRC), an organization the UW-Madison pays to conduct investigations into licensees has found that Palermo’s Pizza clearly violated our Code of Conduct.
The Chancellor previously was claiming he was waiting for the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) decision to be handed down, and when it wasn’t completely conclusive, he decided to do nothing. And then the WRC report was released, which was damning!
Not to mention 11 workers were fired and made offers to return to work…
In other words, this is more than enough for the Chancellor to cut the contract, and he hasn’t!
April 3, 2013 § 1 Comment
This is a followup to a previous post which can be found here.
The Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) findings proved that Palermo’s Pizza fired approximately 75 workers on the pretext of immigration when really they were organizing for workplace rights.
The WRC report suggests that Palermo’s violated UW-Madison labor licensing code. Furthermore, the UW-Madison pays the WRC to evaluate companies we contract with.
In an email from one administrator to another (Vince Sweeney who is the lead on the Palermo’s issue), the claim is made that, essentially the UW should engage Roundy’s in a discussion to make it look like they are concerned with the WRC findings so that they don’t really have to take action.
Essentially they state this:
“activists [will see it as] we are getting this credible investigative information from sources we pay in order to provide such investigation regarding our code of conduct and we choose to do nothing about it.”
Well Mr. Mitchell, that’s damn right.
See the attached image for a record of the email. I can make the 1k pages of open records available to anyone who asks with an email address.
February 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Governor Walker sent his higher educational staff person, Michael Brickman, to the Associated Students of Madison Legislative Affairs meeting.
Michael Brickman: proud that the University of Wisconsin Madison is one of the country’s best institutions.
He went to Nicolet High School and realized that those in the Milwaukee Public Schools were less fortunate.
Want to make sure everyone gets a great education and prepares for the work place. Governor Walker is a great person to work for. He’s extremely humble and down to earth. He wants to do what’s best for the state.
[Editor's note: okay dude, cut to the chase.]
Brickman: talking about going to New Orleans to help rebuild after Katrina. Now he’s talking budgetary stuff–they’re “reinvesting in K12 education.”
On the university: we’re receiving more than most other institutions. Financial aid money, incentive funds, flexibility for existing funding, and $90m on top of that [for new programs, existing programs, and for rewarding faculty].
He’s speaking on flex degree now: prove what you know and move on to something more difficult, rather than sitting in class … says they’re thinking more of non traditional students here.
Luckily, state spending on corrections will not be overshadowed by the University of Wisconsin System.
Chair Dan Statter: sees the $181m as important, in lock step with that is affordability and tuition. Were there discussions of a tuition cap?
Brickman: affordability is something that is a priority. We recognize this is a problem. He says something like: hopefully the flexibility will allow education to remain affordable … education is an investment, it’s a good investment. But we need to make sure we’re not pricing people out of our institutions.
A hard cap is one way to go about it, another way is to work with the university to make sure there’s flexibility (emphasis added).
It’s not just about the investment, whether that’s general public revenue, or through increased financial aid, you can’t always keep up with the increase in costs if you don’t fundamentally look at how we’re delivering education.
Dylan Jambrek: we’re happy to see the increase in allocation to Higher Education Aid Board, can you talk about the choice to invest in the Covenant program in contrast to the Wisconsin Higher Education Grant.
Brickman: want to continue with the commitment we made. A dollar invested in that program is not necessarily a dollar taken away.
David Vines: getting back to the tuition cap. Do you think there should be a tuition cap implemented for the University of Wisconsin System? Would you be willing to work with the Governor and the Joint Finance Committee to ensure this? How do we ensure the Board of Regents won’t raise tuition by 15%?
Brickman: it’s more comprehensive. Part of it is working with the university.
[Editor's note: his answer was a whole lot of nothing.]
Vines: what are the negatives to a cap?
Brickman: if it’s 5.5% and the Board of Regents is going to raise tuition less, they may want to raise it 5.5%.
Brad: what was your reaction to all of the teachers protesting about collective bargaining?
Brickman: it’s weird to be working in a quiet area and then have lots of people there. More stressful than usual. Saw it as getting a job done.