Faculty march to Madison to deliver letter

Sometimes it takes great measures to get your point across to someone with different beliefs.

Several UW-Whitewater faculty and staff members decided it would take a measure such as a 42-mile hike to Madison to deliver a letter addressing Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill and proposed biennial budget.

Hartwick

James Hartwick, associate professor, and Eric Compas, assistant professor of geology and geography, both made the trek to Madison beginning last Thursday, along with other faculty for parts of their journey.

“This budget we find to be quite egregious because of its cuts to education,” Hartwick said. “The future [and] the children are being damaged by that … We see the cuts aimed at the university to be really unfair.”

The “Truth to Power” pilgrimage was used to deliver the letter, which states that “irreparable damage” will be done to public higher education, K-12 education, access to health care, the social safety net and the environment if the biennial budget is passed.
Hartwick said letters throughout history have been hand-delivered. The group of faculty members thought the lengthy hike would help bring more attention to the letter instead of just letting it get thrown off to the side.

Compas

Both Hartwick and Compas said the harm to students was very concerning, especially with the increase in tuition.

“I feel like it’s our way to give voice to our students that perhaps don’t see the bigger picture because they’re so focused on their studies,” Compas said.

Although the walk brought along sore legs, cold weather and large blisters, Hartwick said he was encouraged by all the support they received along the way.

“Along the way, we heard all the honks of ‘this is what democracy looks like,’ ” Hartwick said. “People gave us candy. People stopped and just patted us on the back. It was just really remarkable.”

Hartwick said there were a few times they ran into opposition, but not as much as the supporters.

Saturday was the last leg of the trip, where the marchers walked from Madison East High School to the Capitol to present the letter to several Democratic legislators.

James Hartwick and Eric Compas walked 42 miles to Madison to attempt to get a stronger point across to legislators about their concerns with the budget. Photo submitted.

Hartwick and Compas said they would have preferred to present it to Republican legislators but none were able to attend.

Roughly 65 people joined Hartwick and Compas on the last leg of the journey.

“This was our best idea about how to bring attention to the letter,” Compas said. “We’ve gotten … quite a bit of media coverage in the state that I don’t think would have happened if we didn’t do the walk.”

Showing that people in Madison aren’t the only ones concerned was motivation for the faculty members to present their letter in such a way.

Compas has made a website, www.ericcompas.wordpress.com, designated to providing information about the effects on students, faculty and staff by the proposed budget. Videos from the pilgrimage will also be uploaded soon, Hartwick said.

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