Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Dave Siemers' Letter

Dear Editors:

The Northwestern tells us at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh not to fear further budget cuts (May 22). In my four years at UWO state budget cuts have forced a significant increase in student tuition, raised class sizes, made it harder for majors to find the classes they need to graduate, and reduced professors' salaries. So sorry Northwestern, but I will continue to fear and resist cuts to our university system because the quality of education our students receive is at stake. The paper's suggestion that we teach 33% more classes is not helpful either. You assert that we can do this with "little change" in our work life and no decrease in the quality of our instruction. Clearly this is not the case. If this newspaper's budget was cut by 10% and it had to simultaneously deliver 33% more stories to the public something would have to give--and it is the same for us. If I move from teaching 150 students per semester to 200 I will have to respond by assigning fewer papers or no papers. If I don't assign papers how are my students going to learn to write and construct a well reasoned argument?
The budget cuts are forcing a tragic choice for those of us dedicated to education who love this state: continue to work here under deteriorating conditions or to look for jobs elsewhere. If the Northwestern's suggestion of increasing our course load by 33% comes to pass, most of our best professors will leave. This is particularly true of our good young professors who are more mobile than our veteran teachers. So I ask you to reconsider your position. Instead of asking UWO's professors to spread themselves increasingly thinly, why don't you join with us in getting the state to stop slashing its commitment to higher education?

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