SDS leads fight for fair tuition

Milwaukee college students push for

affordable tuition; pepper gas is the reply


At least 15 students were arrested and dozens sprayed with pepper gas March 4 as UW-Milwaukee students staged a protest outside Chapman Hall as students sought a meeting with Chancellor Carlos Santiago over soaring tuition.

The students groups–which included the Student Association, Students for a Democratic Society, and a new coalition–sought a meeting with Santiago. The students contended that the university’s uition hikes were driving working-class and poor students from the school. The long-treasured Wisconsin Idea of equal access to higher education for qualified students, without regard to economic status, has been undermined by persistent, sharp tuitition increases.

Santiago’s response to the students: calling in the City of Milwaukee Police Dept., long notorious for its rought handling of demonstrations. The police launched a volley of pepper gas to try to disperse the students, and arreested at least 15, including Student Association President Jay Burseth, who has been closely associated with SDS.

Tuition at UWM and other UW schools as soared in response to scaled-back state support. The state of Wisconsin loses hundreds of millions in revenue due to low taxes on the state’s wealthiest citizens and extremely low taxes on major corporations. A study based on 2002 data by the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future showed that 62% of Wisconsin corporations with revenues of more than $100 million paid no corporate income taxes.

As a result, student leaders are increasingly seeing a link between restoring affordable tuition with repairing a state tax system that allows corporations and the rich to escape their fair share of taxation.

A Youtube video shows Milwaukee police arresting a peaceful journalist covering the rally: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s33YtHnn4Hs


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