The following press release was issued today (March 21, 2011) by the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA):
At a meeting Sunday, March 20, 2011, the general membership of the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA) approved a motion to oppose the New Badger Partnership. The TAA opposes the separation of UW-Madison from the UW System and the formation of the public authority model.
The motion reads:
The TAA opposes the New Badger Partnership, especially the separation of UW-Madison from the UW System, the formation of the public authority model, and the threat to affordability and accessibility it poses to public education and the lack of protection for labor unions on campus. The TAA also objects to the non-transparent and undemocratic process by which the New Badger Partnership was designed.
“Our members have serious reservations about the sweeping changes being proposed to UW-Madison and UW System and the process through which these proposals have been pushed through without the full engagement of the UW community,” said Kevin Gibbons, TAA Co-President. “We see these provisions in the Budget Bill as a blatant attempt to privatize public education in Wisconsin. The budget bill divides the campuses of the UW System and makes sweeping cuts to our institutions and thus higher education in the state.”
As proposed a 21 member Board of Trustees would oversee the University. According to the budget bill, UW-Madison faculty, staff and students would have just four seats on the Board. “Given this governor’s antagonism toward our university system and the lack of adequate representation of the UW community on the proposed Board of Trustees, TAA members have said that they cannot accept these provisions. The TAA calls on the University to maintain its commitment to the principles of shared governance and the Wisconsin Idea,” said Gibbons.
The TAA advocates for a transparent, deliberative and democratic process that engages the university community should significant changes be made to UW-Madison and UW System. TAA members have continually expressed concern over the lack of transparency that they have witnessed over the formation, planning and legislative advocacy surrounding the New Badger Partnership.
“We are calling on the University to begin a long overdue conversation and evaluation,” said Adrienne Pagac, member of the TAA Stewards’ Council and a graduate student in Sociology. “Members of the UW community should have been consulted about the details of the plan prior to their inclusion in the Governor’s budget proposal. We should have been presented with a variety of solutions to our ‘problem’ of sustained competitiveness, but we were provided with just one, the New Badger Partnership, as the savior of UW-Madison’s reputation and mission. We should solicit alternative possibilities to address issues of competitiveness, funding sources, etc. before we move forward on a plan for which we have very few concrete details at this time.”
The Teaching Assistants’ Association represents nearly 3,000 graduate employees at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is the oldest graduate employee union in the world.