Note: the Joint Finance Committee debates UW System funding today (Update: JFC punted on UW funding; it’s unclear when they will take up those controversial votes). We over at the MacIver Institute spent a lot of time breaking down the UW budget as part of our Chart Smart series – so the busy taxpayer can keep up-to-speed on what’s going on. I’m reposting them here.

From the MacIver Institute:

These charts examine state support to the System, followed by the overall UW System budget, including federal dollars and gifts. Since the Governor’s proposed tuition freeze and tuition cut are on the docket for Tuesday, we also take a look at in-state and out-of-state tuition across public Big Ten schools. A history of program revenues offers a peek into the UW slush fund debate, sure to come up this week. Finally, we compare salaries for the average household in Wisconsin with employees of the UW System.

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Want more coverage? Head over twitter and check out @MacIverWisc for up-to-the-minute coverage of the UW budget debate and more!

The following report by Jessica Murphy, MacIver Institute Research Intern, first appeared at the MacIver Institute.

Here at the MacIver Institute, we’re dedicated to keeping you – the taxpayer – informed about wasteful spending at all levels of government. If you look closely, you can find questionable line items and waste in just about any arm of government. That’s why we’re skeptical of the constant drumbeat for higher taxes, bigger government, and of course, more and more spending.

Considering the UW System’s never-ending cycle of demands for more state funding, one would hope that they are responsibly spending your tax dollars before they ask for more.

The MacIver Institute decided to dive deeper into the UW system to find places where frivolous spending runs rampant and where cost savings can be found. Our first stop: course offerings in the UW System.

What we found were courses that degrade capitalism, praise Marxism and encourage a “social justice warrior” ideology. We wonder how many employers in the real world are looking to see if you took a class in how to be perpetually aggrieved or permanently pissed at the world?

Check out our list of the Top Five Wasteful Classes in the UW System to see if your school made the cut! We start with number five and make our way to the single most wasteful class in the UW System.

Read the full report here.

…To Temple University

 

The loudest mouth in Madison is mercifully leaving the state. UW-Madison professor Sara Goldbrick-Rab has announced to the consternation of no one that she’s ditching Wisconsin for Temple University.

The Journal-Sentinel reports:

Sara Goldrick-Rab, the outspoken University of Wisconsin-Madison professor who vowed to leave Wisconsin after state lawmakers changed tenure protections last year, announced on her blog Monday night that she has accepted a job at Temple University and will start July 1…

Unless she saw a burning bush, her boorish, embarrassing behavior will serve Temple just as badly as it has served UW-Madison, which she has disparaged and embarrassed on Twitter. She has seen nothing wrong with comparing political leaders she disagrees with to Hitler. And in what can only be described as the lashing out of a sociopath, she targeted high school seniors excited about attending Madison, telling them to go somewhere else.

She was whining about the removal of tenure from state statutes. Tenure remains a part of the UW System’s policy, making her nothing more than a crybaby with lots of Twitter followers. Those incoming freshman are lucky they won’t have to endure the incessant, piercing whining of an entitled, overpaid, overgrown baby masquerading as a respected researcher.

Despite her prominent status as an embarrassment to Wisconsin’s flagship university, Wisconsin taxpayers have generously paid her about $113,000 a year. Can we have the money back?

Like so many eminently open-minded progressive scholars, I discovered in writing this celebration of her departure that she blocked me on Twitter. She probably didn’t like my criticism of her moronic research about college students being broke – truly ground-breaking stuff.

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Sara Goldbrick-Rab is a progressive known for her compassion and tolerance. That’s why she blocks critics, while tweeting obscenities and targeting high school seniors with politically inane claptrap.

Temple is indeed getting a self-righteous, entitled motormouth who will gleefully trash her own campus if she doesn’t like the state’s political leadership. But she’s not nearly as crafty a Twitter-blocker as she thinks. I have my ways.

Her entire Twitter feed right now is a parade of self-appreciation – retweeting professors and others tearfully mourning her leaving as some kind of loss to Wisconsin. The following is just a tiny fraction of what SG-R evidently spends her time doing when she’s not performing underwhelming research that reaches conclusions everyone already knew.

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This tweet is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but I’ll take it literally. Thank you, Gov. Walker, if she’s really leaving thanks to you.

Fortunately for the Conservative cause in Wisconsin, SG-R claims she’ll stay on in some capacity as a continuing embarrassment to Progressive politics in Wisconsin.

So to Temple University from the people of Wisconsin, thank you for taking off our hands a professor who is as ungrateful as could be for the six-figure salary we’ve been paying her so she can sit on Twitter and be angry. We aren’t sure what compelled your decision, but thank you for taking off our hands a professor who spews bile and tells doey-eyed young people to go away.

But to Professor Goldbrick-Rab, can Wisconsin taxpayers have some of that salary back?

And finally, here’s a heartfelt sendoff. See ya!

 

Much of the coverage of the UW-La Crosse confederate flag controversy has focused on the unwarranted overreaction to the presence of a truck on campus with the flag on its grille.

While the overreaction of Dean of Students Paula Knudson is somewhat surprising, newly released emails obtained by the La Crosse Tea Party and published by Media Trackers reveal nothing surprising from the university’s chancellor, Joe Gow.

As the situation percolated, Gow emailed Knudson the note you’d expect from a good, level-headed leader:

“I urge you to include a statement that we did not force the trucker to cover up or take down the confederate flag–rather, we asked the trucker to remove the flag…and the trucker kindly complied,” Gow wrote.

He went on:

We need to refute the notion that we have somehow “banned” display of the confederate flag, because we don’t have the legal authority to do so. And we wouldn’t want to stifle free expression, no matter how uncomfortable it might make us feel.

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Gow’s admonition to err on the side of free speech and respect the freedom of expression came after finding out that several students claiming to be outraged waltzed into the construction site and tried to bait crews into a confrontation.

My suspicion is that Gow wasn’t impressed with that kind of behavior, and he doesn’t wilt at the mere sight of a flag (a flag that I, for one, think is just the symbol of a disgraced bunch of losers who joined the long list of fools who got their asses whooped by the United States of America, but I digress…)

This is the Joe Gow who I got to know as editor of The Racquet, the student paper of UW-L. I may be a somewhat lonely voice in the conservative blogosphere to salute his response to this tricky situation, but I nonetheless do.

Sara Goldrick-Rab is upset that college students are broke.

In a Cap Times article describing her recent research, it is ominously reported that “half of community college students risk hunger, homelessness.” But the data buried under the headline and after the jumpline are pretty par-for-the-course in the eyes of anyone who went to college.

Her first set of questions deals with a buzzword of late: “food insecurity.”

For example, anywhere between a quarter to nearly half of respondents to an email by the UW sociology professor say they bought less food, ate less food or fewer meals, or were hungry at one time or another because they couldn’t afford “balanced” meals.

If a skeptical reader wonders whether I’m just some rich kid whose mom and dad lavished his bank account with weekly windfalls during college, it’s quite the opposite. I would’ve answered yes to every food question Goldrick-Rab’s email survey asked – both in college and beyond. This is despite the fact that I worked a full-time job throughout college, often adding another on the side.

Apparently the age-old meme about college being as much about ramen and Romas as reading and writing is now a crusade within the Ivory Towers of academia.

The next set of questions deals with “housing insecurity.”

While 52 percent reported difficulty paying rent, only 1 percent said they stayed in a shelter (duration of the stay wasn’t defined), didn’t know where they’d sleep, or didn’t have a home. While the headline paints a picture of a seething mass of college students sleeping on park benches, the reality is that the vast majority simply had problems paying their rent. This is not a travesty, it’s a longtime reality through which most young people can and do trudge, along the way learning things that colleges don’t teach.

Let’s not ignore that this study was conducted via email. The fact that an academic study was done via email is…strange. Anyone with six credits in statistics would confirm that the method lends itself to self-selection bias, and critically injures the study’s legitimacy.

Those one-out-of-100 cases in which a community college student was “homeless” are almost certainly much more nuanced than the story portrays. Perhaps an individual’s roommates got sick of a freeloader; perhaps they were honestly struggling.

In short, the story tries to hype a problem that has heretofore been a hallmark of college life – being broke and making do. I personally attest to that, I just never felt compelled to complain about years of skipping breakfast and lunch because my checking account was full of goose eggs and my credit cards were maxed out.

Nor did I seek out food stamps or other assistance programs, which the Cap Times article inevitably suggests as a solution to an age-old problem: college students being broke.

The study and article totally ignore a more pressing problem: the rising cost of higher education.

With outstanding student loan debt easily topping $1 trillion nationally, the real issue isn’t that college students need to turn to cheap food and skip a lunch now and then. The real issue is that many graduates are saddled with a debt the size of a home mortgage, prolonging the poverty of college years after graduation.

It is progressive administrators who have jacked the cost of tuition from their Ivory Tower perches, overseen by progressives in government bureaucracies, and using progressive dictates to squelch free-market competition from alternative colleges. Downward pressure on tuition inflation has instead come from dictates from legislators like Republicans in Wisconsin.

Goldrick-Rab so disapproved of those measures that she went on a highly publicized series of Twitter rants attacking Republicans. She compared Gov. Scott Walker to Hitler, Republicans to fascists, and trolled random high school graduates celebrating the end of their senior years by tweeting, encouraging them to find a different school than UW-Madison.

She chose to risk her credibility in a fit of rage over successful Republican efforts to limit tenure privileges of professors who work on the public dime and other changes to the UW System that many Wisconsinites believed were long past due, including a tuition freeze.

None of these measures have damaged education in Wisconsin. A stroll through any UW campus or tech school will reveal that there are no piles of garbage, students sleeping under newspapers on park benches, or biker gangs commandeering student unions a la the dystopian scene of “Hell Valley” in Back to the Future II. Times are as fat as ever in academia.

SG-R’s Twitter rants are not an ancillary issue; as the Inside Higher Ed post describes, she was an erstwhile respected sociologist. That she unrepentantly behaved this way on the most public of forums is a profound statement about her lack of professionalism, dearth of self-control, and – most importantly – her lack of respect for her role as a prominent researcher at the UW.

For various reasons, including the source of the data, it’s quite easy to dismiss this study as just another hyped-up non-issue by an Ivory Tower academic who discredited herself in spectacular fashion.

UW-La Crosse Dean of Students Paula Knudson drastically overreacted to a confederate flag on a semi truck on campus. This was the topic of my latest column over at Right Wisconsin.

Knudson’s email to the campus apologizing for the flag, which was an enterprise undertaken by her evidently on her own, is how campus administrators proactively tackle controversies these days. I make the argument that Knudson, who I got to know well as the editor of the campus newspaper at UW-L, is a very nice and level-headed person who was paranoid that the campus was about to erupt in a zombie apocalypse over a flag symbolized on the grille of a semi truck.

I don’t think the events were the result of Knudson’s ideology. Granted, she is almost certainly a liberal. I don’t even know – which helps make my case. I was a conservative editor of the student paper, and she knew it. But she was not the type to operate professionally based on her personal ideology. Her decision to use the language she used in two campus-wide emails, invoking feelings of being threatened and of the pain, hurt, and angst caused by the semi truck confeddy, was attacked widely in conservative media and social media.

But I don’t think she should be personally attacked. Her decision was a quasi-rational overreaction to the potential of an uprising by politically correct, thin skinned, blithering ninny students who should be kept in a padded room rather than allowed in the erstwhile diverse environment of a college campus.

Administrators should stop infantilizing students, because the vast majority are level-headed young people just looking to get the education they paid for and have a good time. These students need to stand up – as many at UW-L did – both in defense of free speech and sanity.

As Chancellor Joe Gow advised the Student Senate when anti-abortion protesters brought graphic images of dead babies on posterboards to campus, it’s their right, and it’s best to err on the side of free speech.

I agree.

Whole thing here.

Ron Kind’s “For Sale” sign and the succession scenarios if and when he runs for Senate in ’16.

Required Reading:

Or, if you just want the highlights, pick and choose from this playlist:

On the same day Gov. Scott Walker finally formed a 527 political action committee, a portion of his upcoming budget hit desks in the state capitol: another stab at UW System reforms.

First: the PAC. It’s considered a milestone step in the formation of a nationwide political apparatus that will allow limitless fundraising. Now that Walker has one, with Rick Wiley as executive director, there’s no doubt he’s going to run. As if there was a doubt before.

Back home and just days after Walker told conservatives in Iowa that America needs “big, bold” leadership, the news is reporting Walker’s proposal for a horse-trade with the UW System in his upcoming budget that will overhaul the system’s relationship with the state government.

In exchange for a whopping 13 percent budget cut systemwide, the system will be re-defined into a “public authority,” where the legislature has much less control over how the system operates and spends money, such as how much it pays its faculty and staff.

This arrangement makes sense. I attended Viterbo University for my first two years of college, a private university that receives no state aid and therefore is limited only by the regulations foisted on them by the feds via federal student aid. The state rightly has little or no say.

For the remaining 35 years of my college education I went to UW-La Crosse, where I became the student newspaper’s editor and covered two rounds of deep budget cuts by Jim Doyle. It made no sense to me that politicians would slash funding but give up none of their power.

Eventually, I thought, taxpayers will contribute virtually nothing yet politicians in the legislature will still control the most byzantine of minutiae like where UW-Stout buys its kitchen rags. With declining support from the legislature, the system starts looking like a private university system – it only makes sense for the legislature to have less control over the system.

It’s unfortunate for tuition payers that the cuts will be so deep, but at least this time the system gets something in exchange.

Here’s a blast into the not-so-distant past. Found this after plugging in a rickety old Dell desktop from the good ol’ college days (circa 2009). I’m absolutely appalled at my own horrifying bloviousness and self-importance — at least I took it all seriously.

**

Dear Dr. Enz Finken,

Sometimes it’s rough to be politically conservative on a college campus. It’s not as bad as some purport it to be; for the most part, professors err from being the stereotypically leftist academic-types and manage to be fair-minded and respectful of different views.

Yet some professors can’t be wrangled into control, especially when they have that handy “Tenure” status. This is the case with Tom Pribek in the English Department.

My major concern grows from the events of last night’s Reporting and Copy Editing class, when he ended the session by ragging on George W. Bush.

Roughly fifteen minutes before class was to end, Professor Pribek distributed a sheet of paper. One side was labeled, “Some observations on quotes,” and subsequently listed notes from the textbook’s chapter on using quotes in a news story. After reviewing that sheet, he instructed us to turn to the other side, on which he printed a transcript from one of Bush’s impromptu answers to a question at a press conference.

What follows is an honest approximation of what he said: “I’m not sure where we’ll go from here, but go ahead and read it anyway.”

We went ahead and individually read the transcript, which was the former President’s response, verbatim, verbal pauses included. This began as a decent exercise. For example, on Tuesday, in covering a story for The Racquet, I ended up talking to six different people over the phone and later transcribing their interviews. The raw transcripts of those interviews would show verbal pauses and stall words similar to those that appear in the transcript of the former President’s response. I would have greatly appreciated the practice of making difficult quotes usable in prose, as I expected us to do as a class with the transcript.

Once everyone had enough time to read, Professor Pribek led everyone not in teaching how to wade through a tricky quote, but by criticizing the content of the speech, and the apparently negative images Bush’s words conjured. This came on the heels of a lecture that reminded journalists to remain unbiased in their reporting. Even an amateur will note it’s not the journalist’s responsibility to interpret the quote, but rather to accurately represent the spoken word on paper.

Had the situation ended there, you wouldn’t be reading this email. But when students chimed in, detailing their disagreements with the Bush administration’s foreign policy, he encouraged it and agreed. This was not the appropriate venue for Professor Pribek to say these things.

As the editor of The Racquet, it would not have been appropriate for me to voice my personal disagreement with these students in that setting, especially because other Racquet staff are in the class.

I intend to speak with Professor Pribek about this on Thursday when we meet to discuss this week’s assignment, after which I will let him know I am dropping his class.

His Two Minutes Hate of the former world leader was unprofessional and insulting. This frustration is compounded by the fact that he introduced the transcript by acknowledging he didn’t necessarily have a point to it, but felt it necessary to share nonetheless. To keep students in class without a purpose wastes time. As the editor of The Racquet, the general manager of the campus studio radio station, and above all, full-time student, time is important to me. Moreover, what is gained by insulting a man who no longer has direct control over policy decisions? It must be some pathetic catharsis for those disenchanted with the direction of the country over the last eight years. I ask that the university administration take steps to discourage this sort of behavior. May I suggest paying for yoga classes or cream sodas for troublesome instructors? Really anything to calm them down will do.

I hope you take into account what happened last night and how it has affected me as a student.

If you have any further questions, please contact me via email. Otherwise, thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Nelson

Opening Remarks

“Most importantly,” Gloede said, “limit your level of intoxication and make it a fun event you can stay at all evening.”

WI State Journal, covering Madison’s Freakfest

Freakfest in Madison, for those who haven’t been, is quintessentially Wisconsin.

There’s beer, weather plays little factor on attendance, strangers gather together united from the lubricating effects of alcohol, oops-babies are created from the forgotten lubricating effects of Trojan Magnums. Rivalries sometimes turn into ugly fights in a classical jets vs sharks showdown, and certain measures have helped keep the peace — though in years past, things have gotten ugly.

Serious attempts to regulate the chaos began in the mid-2000s. Cops cordoned off select areas, and participants — freakers? there must be a word for them — were granted access for a $5 cover. By putting this area under police dominion, crowds were more effectively controlled and cops were given better authority to manage large crowds and situations.

Today, the event has exploded into a spectacle, complete with national musical talent like Matt & Kim performing live and an EDM show indoors for the psychedelic crowd, along with other Madison and Milwaukee-grown talents. (Is psychedelic still at thing, freakers?)

While it’s a tenet of college-aged progressivism to rebel against anything the man stands for, the evolution of freakfest represents government done right. William F. Buckley said during his infamous battle with Gore Vidal in 1968, “The role of government is to make possible the avenues of progress in a cluttered situation but not to make that progress itself.” Left to their own devices, the throngs of braless free-loving Madisonians cavorting together in booze-soaked Halloween bliss led to problems and significant public safety risks. Here, the police and city government have reacted appropriately and dynamically to improve public welfare.]

Watching a brawl from the periphery can be entertaining, especially when an evening of festivities has induced a certain state of mind. But what’s not fun is the state capitol appearing in the news for — again — crazy kids partying too hard, like the dimwits who overturned cars during Oktoberfest in La Crosse a few years ago.

Government has its place, and when it functions to help everyone get just a little freaky, it’s doing its job.

Quote of the Day

“Arms down here say I’m white and I’m sorry, arms up here says You don’t know what I am.”

Phil Dunphy

Social Networking

Uff Da

The participation rate is ABYSMAL!

Chasers

How important are personal brands?

Because it’s Halloween, that’s why.

What you didn’t know about candy.