"Trying to protect the UW System:" Another rally held on UWM campus in light of proposed budget cuts

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Another rally on the UW-Milwaukee campus on Wednesday, February 11th in response to Governor Scott Walker's proposed cuts to the UW System. Students, faculty and members of the community came together for what was being called a "make some noise" rally and march.

"Trying to protect the UW System for the benefit of the students and employees here," Andrew Urban, president of Progressive Students of Milwaukee said.

On Wednesday, those who oppose Governor Scott Walker's proposed $300 million in cuts to the UW System gathered on the UWM campus.

Walker's two-year budget plan calls for cutting $300 million in the next biennium and giving UW System leaders more independence, a move that would leave legislators with no way to stop the UW System from raising tuition as much as it wants starting in 2017. Some are worried the plan would allow the system to raise tuition dramatically.

Walker is proposing a two-year tuition freeze, and says the UW System would receive a block grant from the state, and the system would have the independent authority to decide how to spend it.

"They will know going forward what they get from the state and the taxpayers. I think it will make them more effective, more efficient, and ultimately more accountable to the taxpayers of this state," Governor Walker has said of his plan.

"We wanna, you know, continue to build this movement and continue to involve more students in opposing these cuts," Urban said.

But not all on the UW-Milwaukee campus oppose the cuts.

"I'm indifferent," Jake Westphal said.

Still, Westphal says he thinks there could be some merit to Walker's proposal, which includes providing greater discretion to each institution regarding the allocation of funds.

"With the greater flexibility, you can save costs in the future, so looking long-term, it`s not entirely bad," Westphal said.

Speaking of long-term, UW-Milwaukee Vice Chancellor Robin Van Harpen says this week, UWM's chancellor issued a directive to all vice chancellors to put a hold on non-essential spending.

"The more that we can save now, the better off we`ll be, if this goes into effect on July 1st. I wanna emphasize that this isn`t a total freeze. What this is, is a careful review of any new hires, any new salary adjustments, and any travel," Van Harpen said.

Van Harpen says this non-essential hold does allow room for vice chancellors to decide whether a hire or salary adjustment is essential in order to maintain the university's business operations.