February 21, 2011

Thanks Presidents’ Day, the protesting shall continue…

Posted in News at 2:55 am by brittanylschmidt

Protesting at the Capitol for a week straight, check.  Calling in sick to school to protest, check.   Classes getting canceled to march down State Street, check.  Camping out at the Capitol over night, check.  Democrats leaving the state, check.  Presidents’ Day as a school holiday equaling more protest….CHECK!

I thought the protest was supposed to last for three days and then a final vote on Friday.  The protest has lasted six days and no one knows how much further it will go.  We have found multiple ways to keep this protest going until we get what we want.

For the past week, we have been sleep deprived, uncomfortably squeezed in tight places,enduring cold rainy weather, and yet we are still here.

I am sure all the Republicans thought they would get their building back considering school is starting up again tomorrow.  Well, teachers may have found a way to beat the system again.

I can’t recall a time that Presidents’ Day was seen as a school holiday in which we all got school off.  Well, some school districts recognize Presidents’ Day as a school holiday and will be getting the day off.  Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, urges those who have off to come join the protest.

Over the past week, history has been in the making.  Protests up to 25,000 people have stormed the Capitol in protest of Governor Scott Walkers bill to limit union bargaining power.  Union workers have worked for these rights for a long time and what Scott Walker plans to do  is cruel and heartless.  I think everyone understands the state of the economy and the budget deficit Wisconsin is facing, but this is not the right way to go about it.

I attended the protests on Thursday, February 17th for a couple of hours.  Hearing about all the rallying and protesting in my classrooms got me pumped up to join the action.  After class, I rushed over to the Capitol.  Seeing the signs held high walking down State Street was a really neat sight to see.

But nothing compares to how I felt standing in the middle of thousands of people chanting, “Kill the Bill!”

It sent shivers all the way up my back.  It was so empowering to be with a large group of people fighting for the right cause.  To save unions and fight against Walker’s plan.

I think it is incredible that our protesting encouraged the Democrats  to leave the state  until Walker is willing to negotiate.  Apparently Walker thought otherwise and responded quite differently.  Walker said, “Democracy is not about hiding out in another state.  It’s about showing up here in the capital and making the case there, and for us, we’re willing to take this as long as it takes. Walker is taking away bargaining rights without letting people have a say, how is that a democracy?  Apparently he thinks the definition of Democracy doesn’t mean a government by the people.

After being in the Capitol for an exciting five hours, my friends and I decided to take our signs outside.  As soon as we got outside, a fireman parade was starting.  The streets immediately went silent as the fireman walked past.   I stood next to a man who said,

” I have been a teacher for 38 years and this is the proudest I have ever been.”

Scott Walker should be thanking us for being a relatively peaceful group of people. I don’t have any evidence of a fight or violence breaking out during these past few days of protests, other than angry word battles between supporters and protesters.  With a crowd mixed of children, students, parents, teachers, grandparents, and union workers, the protest has been for the most part respectable.

Scott Walker is not only hurting the teachers, but also their students.  Because teachers are not able to receive all their benefits, they may look for jobs at other universities.  This upsets me because I am paying to come here, to The University of Wisconsin for an outstanding education.  If my teachers are leaving, the reputation of this school will decline and lose its credibility.  Teachers have canceled classes in protest and 260 UW faculty members have signed a letter in support of collective bargaining rights.

I just can’t see any positive coming out of this bill passing.

I think professors are in a rough spot right now.  They are constantly being reminded to do their job.  Go to class, prepare a lecture, and proceed with daily appointments.  But how can you go about your day knowing that your job is in jeopardy?  Should I have class and act like my mind is all there or should I protest at the Capitol to fight for my rights to bargain as a Union member?  This question has been asked a lot lately and I am curious how the teachers are going to respond this week.

Head over to this link and check out this video from the Ed Schultz Show. It highlights the protest and what the people in Wisconsin stand for.  This is what Democracy looks like!

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