Political activism

I’m not one for rally’s. Or marches. Or anything of the sort. I lived in DC for 11 years, and never attended a single one (though I WISH I could have been there for the Rally to Restore Sanity!). So the irony of getting more politically active since I’ve left DC is not missed by me. But I’m still not going to rally.

Wisconsin’s new governor, Scott Walker, is not a man I voted for. He seemed to run on a very small platform that mostly seemed to consist of refusing funds to build a rail line here in Wisconsin (and some bullshit about not raising taxes). That’s not much to run on, nor something I agreed with (who refuses money that will bring in jobs??). But now that he’s in office, his true colors seem to be shining through. One of those is his desire to completely fuck over the University I work for and am a student of. This note on FB does a good job at summarizing what Walker’s Budget Repair Bill aims to do. While I’m not the biggest advocate of union’s, I do understand their place. Unfortunately, I never figured that unions would have/need to protect me from my own government.

In essence, the parts that directly affect me deal with taking away my tuition remission and increasing the costs of my health care. Oh, and cut general funding for the institution I work for and am a student of. Now, quite frankly, I’d grumble about increased health costs, but likely I’d just deal with it. We have excellent HMO options and paying a bit more for them would be ok in my book. But taking away my tuition remission? I’d like have to drop out of my graduate program because of that one. Destroy the benefits offered to our professors and staff? Then how will be recruit new faculty? Or even keep the ones we already have? I know my PI has had other universities try to recruit him.

I don’t think standing on the steps of the capitol shouting slogans will do much to convince Walker to do anything other than what he already wants to try to ram through our state senate and assembly. So instead I’ve done what I do think makes a difference. I wrote my State Senator and State Representative and let them know clearly and concisely that I am wholeheartedly AGAINST Walker’s proposed bill. I will also write Walker tomorrow morning when I’m a bit more rested. I also will call all three tomorrow morning.

If you are a resident of Wisconsin, I highly urge you to consider what you think about Walker’s Budget Repair Bill, and contact your senator and representative about it. You can use this site to determine WHO your elected officials are. That page will also give you their contact information.

When you get ready to call and/or email your elected officials, I suggest you read through these suggestions on how to go about it. Make sure you include your name, address, phone number, and state why you are emailing/calling them. Keep it professional and polite.

If you aren’t sure what to write, here’s what I sent Sen. Fred Risser and Rep. Mark Pocan (my elected officials). Tomorrow morning I’ll also call them, and Gov. Walker, to follow up and let them know just how strongly I stand against Walker’s bill. Once I’ve figured out what to say, I can post a script of that too if anyone cares to know it.

Dear Representative Pocan,
My name is XXXXX and I am a graduate student at UW. I am
writing you today to let you know that I do NOT support Governor
Walker’s proposed bill. I especially do NOT support his idea to take
away collective bargaining rights for public sector employees. My
(meager) graduate student stipend is my sole source of income. These
funds pay my basic living costs, food and rent, with little left for
extras. Adding tuition to this or increasing the cost of my health
care significantly would likely cause me to have to drop out of my PhD
program. Please speak on behalf of me, and students like me, in
defeating Walker’s proposed bill.
Thank you,

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One Response

  1. Why bother to TA if you have to pay tuition? I sure as heck wouldn’t TA for the meagre salary I get — the tuition is what makes it a good deal. And, lest we forget, TAs are a heck of a lot cheaper than professors.

    My TAship only pays for 9 credits per term, and I have to take 14-18 per term as part of my grad program. I’m not too pleased about this, as I now have student loans. And I have to pay my own health care. Granted, I’m not at a flagship state uni, but still . . .

    My uni is talking about cutting grad student positions like that will somehow save money. I’m not sure that they really understand just how little they’re paying for the massive ranks of people who teach their classes. And I really don’t think politicians realize that, without TAs, most major universities would not be able to function.

    Best of luck over there. I hope this ends up being saber rattling and not a significant issue. Or maybe we’ll be able to see the brain drain occur as people leave the state in droves.

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