At the open meeting with UW System President Ray Cross, held at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, I asked Ray Cross a question from the following text. SPOILER ALERT: He answered, “Yes.”
Hello, President Cross. My name is Richard Grusin. I am Director of the Center for 21st Century Studies and Professor of English at UW-Milwaukee. I want to thank you for coming to UWM to hear our concerns. My remarks will be blunt and direct, among other reasons to underscore the fierce urgency of the crisis we face, which threatens the livelihood of thousands of UW System employees and the educational quality of hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin students.
I have only one simple question, albeit with a substantive preamble.
Given that, as early as January 4, 2015, you called a special meeting of the UW System Faculty Representatives to warn them that there was a grave threat to Chapter 36 in the upcoming legislative session and the only way to save tenure and shared governance was for you to make a deal with the state’s Republican leadership;
Given that, by the end of January the citizens of Wisconsin finally got to see the deal you had negotiated: accepting a $300+ million budget cut in exchange for establishing a new University System public authority, without any serious economic study either of the costs of a transition or the size of the benefits a public authority might yield;
Given that, by the end of February nearly 500 UW System faculty, staff, students, and alumni had signed an open letter demanding you to call for a 2-year moratorium on the conversion to public authority and the $300 million budget cuts that had been offered along with the public authority;
Given that, at the end of March, there now seems to be little support for your public authority, whether among UW faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the Board of Regents, or the Republican legislature;
Given that what we are now left with is a proposed $300+ million in cuts to the UW System budget and the almost wholesale repeal of Chapter 36, including all of the academic protections–such as tenure, shared governance, employment protection, or academic freedom–which are fundamental to public university systems across the country;
Given your repeated assurances, today and in the past, that you support and will do everything you can to preserve (or even strengthen) the academic protections of Chapter 36 currently slated to be repealed by the Governor’s budget;
Given all of this, my question is: Will you pledge here today that, if you fail to secure a substantial reduction in the proposed budget cuts, and if you prove unable to protect tenure, shared governance, and academic freedom for all University of Wisconsin universities and colleges–will you pledge here today to resign your position as President of the University of Wisconsin System?