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Paul Ryan reaches out to millennials, receives mixed response from UW students

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 12:02am

With high millennial support for Democratic presidential candidates this election season, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, reached out to young voters Wednesday to encourage them to support the Republican Party.

In his speech at Georgetown University, Ryan asked college students to give the GOP another chance. Ryan said the values of the GOP align with the values of millennials, delivering a message promoting inclusivity and diversity.

“The America you want is the America we want — open, diverse, dynamic,” Ryan said.

Ryan addressed issues such as trying to solve the student debt crisis and the economy, and argued that bottom-up growth is a better system than top-down regulation because limited government helps businesses be more competitive and better serve the people.

Some millennials, however, are taking to Twitter to disagree with Republican policies, using the hashtag #RyansWrong.

Today at #RyanAtGU @PaulRyanSpeaker made it clear that he doesn't understand millennials. #RyansWrong pic.twitter.com/IymyFIe7Fq

— College Democrats WI (@CollegeDemsWI) April 27, 2016

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin said in a statement that these tweets indicate Ryan’s remarks fell on “deaf ears.”

Ryan’s comments did, however, meet the ears of University of Wisconsin College Republicans. In a statement written for The Badger Herald, UW College Republicans said they stand firmly with Ryan, as many young voters do indeed relate with Republican values. They said they support smaller government, increased opportunities and economic freedom.

“We believe that our generation is full of diverse individuals with diverse thoughts who are capable of making our own decisions and succeeding without government making those decisions for us,” according to the statement.

But August McGinnity-Wake, UW College Democrats chair-elect, said he does not believe Ryan’s call for action will be successful. He said most millennials still disagree with Ryan on important issues such as climate change, marriage equality and college affordability.

On whether or not Ryan’s more inclusive messages connect to people on a more bipartisan basis, McGinnity-Wake said he’s not convinced that Ryan’s statements are actually true. He said promoting diversity is something the Democratic party supports — not Republicans — and he’s skeptical Ryan will actually work toward achieving opportunity for everyone.

“[Ryan’s remarks are] more good talking points, but I have yet to see any incidence … where the Republican Party has done much of anything … in terms of legislation, to promote inclusiveness and compassion,” McGinnity-Wake said.

In their statement, College Republicans said the GOP is not the “evil group of old people” they are often portrayed as in the media. They said the GOP is a party of “inclusion and compassion,” which aims to give every citizen the opportunity to live the American dream, regardless of background.

Alex Walker, College Republicans member, said he believes Ryan has been successful in reaching millennials. He said not all millennials are Democrats, pointing to how Gov. Scott Walker nearly tied Mary Burke for voters aged 18-24 in the 2014 gubernatorial election. He said Ryan, like Walker, actually has a lot of support from millennials.

The two of them have been, here in Wisconsin and across the country, making efforts to reach young people and we think that he [accomplished] that here,” Alex Walker said. “Here in Wisconsin, we’ve seen that when you reach out to other people, they’ll listen.”

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Categories: Local Media

UW Faculty Senate unsure whether to bash UW System leadership with non-confidence resolution

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 11:32pm

Despite sharing concerns over a newly adopted University of Wisconsin System tenure policy, most faculty senators at UW haven’t made up their minds whether a recently-drafted non-confidence resolution toward system leadership is a good way to address the issue.

UW sociology professor and faculty senator Chad Goldberg, author of the resolution, finalized it April 25 to express non-confidence toward UW System President Ray Cross and the Board of Regents. He said the new policy, which allows school administration to shut down academic programs or lay off faculty members based on non-educational reasons, will erode academic due process and shared governance.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank strongly opposed the resolution through her latest blog post, saying she can’t see any positive outcome, only significant consequences.

“Such a vote would put the UW faculty in opposition to our governing board, with which we work closely and must have a positive relationship,” Blank said in the post. “UW makes requests of the Regents monthly, needing their approval of a host of activities.” 

Public Representation Organization of the Faculty Senate, or PROFS, a voluntary organization started by the Faculty Senate, issued a statement Thursday morning regarding the resolution, which is up for a vote at the next Faculty Senate meeting May 2.

The statement does not take a committed stance, but instead talks about the importance for UW to retain top faculty as a flagship campus in the state and nation.

PROFS Legislative Representative Jack O’Meara said PROFS is not taking a definite position right now because as the public representation body of the Faculty Senate, its position will depend on the voting results at the Monday meeting.

“If they do adopt it, that will be our position,” O’Meara said. “We see them as our bosses.”

It is still hard to predict whether the senators will adopt the resolution, and PROFS is trying not to influence the vote in either direction, said Donald Moynihan, associate professor at the LaFollette School of Public Affairs and a member of the PROFS steering committee.

While some faculty members have deep concerns with the direction in which the system is going and feel the need to express them through the non-confidence resolution, Moynihan said, others think the bashing of system leadership through a resolution is one step too far.

Moynihan, however, said there is probably more agreement among faculty members on the resolution’s content: Concerns over disinvestment in higher education and attacks on tenure.

“Those are the wide set of concerns shared among most faculty … but I think the disagreement is whether it makes sense for faculty to call on the regents and the system president,” Moynihan said. 

This disagreement is also Blank’s main concern because as chancellor, she needs to work with Cross and the Board of Regents on a constant basis, and if passed, it would make her job a lot harder, Percival Matthews, educational psychology assistant professor and District 30 faculty senator, said.

In this situation, Matthews said it’s Blank’s job to look out for the university’s best interests, be responsive to both faculty members and the demands of the regents. It’s not the chancellor’s role to be an agitator, he said, so it makes sense that she try voice her opposition to the resolution and find a middle ground, such as a milder way to express faculty dissatisfaction. 

At a Faculty Senate executive committee meeting Monday, Blank said the “political backlash” to UW — if the resolution passes — will be very real, as reported by Wisconsin State Journal. Many university faculty feel pressured and even threatened by some of the state legislators who try to use their political power to intimidate the faculty for simply expressing an opinion, Goldberg said.

“A world-class university depends on the free exchange of ideas, and those ideas have to include the possibility of criticizing the administration and criticizing even the regents,” Goldberg said. “Because we feel that they’re taking actions that are not good for the university, that makes it harder for us to deliver quality product and services to the students and to the people of Wisconsin.”

To solve this problem, Matthews said there needs to be more engaged discussions between UW faculty and state legislators.

“I expect we will have a vigorous and spirited discussion and debate about the resolution, and I’m hopeful that the majority of senators will support the resolution, but we’ll just have to wait to see Monday,” Goldberg said.

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Categories: Local Media

No love for Soglin’s alcohol moratorium at community discussion session

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 10:36pm

During a community discussion Thursday, Mayor Paul Soglin made his case for a moratorium on new downtown alcohol licenses and listened to objections.

Under the moratorium, new alcohol licenses would be prohibited in and around State Street in a bid to encourage a greater retail presence. Business owners and community members said the moratorium would ultimately hurt the retail market by preventing vacant properties from being filled.

Promoting a vibrant retail community around State Street has been an important issue for Soglin in recent years. As more properties are occupied by bars and restaurants, Soglin has repeatedly said the family friendly allure of State Street is in jeopardy.

Turning State Street into food court bad for Madison“Want to grab lunch on State?” Simple inquiries such as these are often heard across campus, and for good reason. …

Despite differences over how best to revive retail on State Street, business owners agreed that the city’s efforts, up to now, have been unsuccessful.

In comparison to other cities, Sandi Torkildson, owner of the bookstore A Room of One’s Own, said Madison has done a poor job at enticing retailers. She rebuffed the notion that online shopping has killed brick and mortar business.

“I have customers from kids with allowances to retired people and plenty of millenials,” Torkildson said.

Soglin said the moratorium would extend into 2018 and would give the community and city government time to come up with a long-term strategy to cope with a retreating retail presence on State Street. He argued the move would prevent further decay of the local retail market, but council members and business owners were not so sure.

Eating, drinking establishments crowding out retail on State Street, mayor tells committeeMayor Paul Soglin came before the Alcohol License Review Committee Wednesday to discuss the impact of liquor-licensing on the commercial …

For starters, some landlords said they’ve tried to encourage retailers to rent their properties, but have encountered little enthusiasm. In addition, they said rental costs — which can average $14 a square foot for properties on State Street — can present an insurmountable obstacle to new retailers.

Critics of the moratorium said it would lead to more empty store fronts and further aggravate the problem for both retailers and other vendors on State Street.

Soglin’s proposal also seems to lack the political will for approval within the Common Council, Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said. In its current form, Verveer said he can’t support the moratorium, but would be open to more limited restrictions on new licenses.

Verveer said the mayor’s proposal would be formally introduced by mid-May at the earliest.

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Categories: Local Media

Student government concludes semester seeking tuition transparency

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 10:14pm

In their last meeting of the semester, Associated Students of Madison approved legislation that aims to make the allocation of tuition more transparent.

After going through final updates on ASM chair reports for next year, ASM discussed and approved a new piece of legislation — tuition transparency.

Tuition transparency calls for the university to show how student tuition money is being spent, University Affairs Vice Chair Mara Matovich said.

Matovich said she started the campaign because no one would tell her where tuition money was going or how it was being spent.

“We know the money goes to faculty, but how much money are they getting? Is the money really being spent on educational materials?” Matovich said.

No student can confidently state where tuition money goes unlike segregated fees, she said. It’s unfortunate tuition is not structured to be as transparent, she said.

ASM Rep. Deena Whitwam voiced her support for the legislation and said she was glad ASM was taking up the issue of tuition transparency.

“I think tuition transparency is just so important and I’m really glad student council is looking to address it,” Whitwam said.

ASM approved of the legislation with a 18-0 vote with no abstentions.

During open forum, ASM representative Katherine Sodeika said ASM misrepresented UW students as a whole by stating the council agreed with the UW student protesters. Furthermore, they said a letter to Chancellor Rebecca Blank stating the protests were a sign of UW’s need for cultural competency signed by the 22nd session of ASM did not represent all members of that council’s views.

Campus climate is not just a student issue. We all play a role. pic.twitter.com/kG28k8SdMm

— ASM (@asmstudentgovt) April 21, 2016

Not everyone agreed with the statements made by protesters last week, but ASM tweets about the protest “blanketed” the different views of students on campus by assuming students unanimously supported them, Sodeika said.

ASM Chair Madison Laning took the blame for the criticism of ASM’s tweets and the letter. Laning said she thought the tweets were more representative of students’ opinions on campus and had meant to show ASM’s support of those views by including them in their tweets.

ASM sent a letter to the Chancellor demanding cultural competency among the administration. pic.twitter.com/K5b56WKB34

— ASM (@asmstudentgovt) April 27, 2016

“In my belief, it was a way in which we can include others on campus and I am very sorry if others did not feel that way,” Laning said.

In addition, Laning said she signed the letter as the 22nd session of ASM because she had been unsure of how else to sign it considering the large amount of ASM leadership involved.

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Categories: Local Media

UW School of Education needs to live up to high standards, combat racism, bias on campus

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 8:44pm

University of Wisconsin School of Education described actions it is planning to take in response to the recent incidents of hate and bias on campus in a letter sent Tuesday to its students and faculty members.

Sent to 3,560 students, staff and faculty in the School of Education, the letter is meant to communicate the school’s concern over the campus racial climate, School of Education Dean Diana Hess said.

Hess said the letter not only addresses the need to recruit a more diverse student body, faculty and staff, but the need to create a more inclusive campus climate.

“We are going to set clear goals, deploy the resources necessary to implement these changes and hold ourselves accountable,” Hess said. “We are not planning short-term responses because we know the kinds of changes that are needed will take sustained attention.”

In the 1970s, the school was one of the first to establish an equity and diversity committee, but has since failed to live up to its expectations, Hess said in the letter.

To create a more inclusive and thoughtful campus climate, and to meet these expectations immediately, the School of Education plans to implement several changes. These changes include providing professional development opportunities for faculty, teaching assistants and staff in the school, organizing an institutional response plan to incidents of hate and bias and supporting the university’s effort to change the campus climate, Hess said.

In addition, the school also plans to hold open forums for faculty, staff and students to share their experiences on campus to help identify what the university and school need to make campus more inclusive.

“The School of Education will not tolerate actions meant to hurt, alienate or divide the members of our community,” Hess said. “Instead, we are committed to moving forward to create safer, more welcoming and more inclusive school.”

Students, faculty and staff have been targeted, intimidated and threatened through hateful and bias acts on campus, Hess said.

Hess said these acts have violated members of the UW community’s right to teach and learn in a safe environment. The School of Education, which welcomes all students, faculty and staff, deserves and demands respect and dignity for the members of its community, but also has the responsibility of creating this respect, she said.

“We want to state that it is the responsibility of the entire campus community, including our School of Education, to take the strongest stand against the perpetrators of these acts, ensuring there are real consequences for their actions,” Hess said.

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Categories: Local Media

UW program receives $1 million to support statewide garden-based education for kids

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 8:41pm

To better teach Wisconsin kids about sustainability and healthy eating, University of Wisconsin is partnering with other organizations in the state to establish a network for educators.

The Wisconsin School Garden Network, supported by the Cultivate Health Initiative, is a joint effort between Community GroundWorks, a nonprofit organization to connect people to nature and local food, and UW’s Environmental Design Lab, which does community-based research in health.

The network is a public health project that expands and sustains garden-based education in Wisconsin to improve the eating habits of students ranging from prekindergarten through high school, Nathan Larson, director of the CHI, said.

“I think we are seeing a lot of positive benefits for school gardens,” Larson said. “There is a lot of opportunity for academic achievement, it’s a really interdisciplinary learning environment as well as a great place to encourage intergenerational learning and volunteerism.”

The program will help to improve communication between educational gardens, Larson said. The goal, he said, is that these gardens will influence children to eat more fruits and vegetables as well as increase their outdoor activity.

The project will provide educational opportunities over the next five years for 2,000 Wisconsin school educators, especially those who are lacking proper resources, Larson said.

“We saw some regions that had less access to resources than others, so we are trying to make it an equitable distribution of resources,” Dennis said.

A five-year grant of $1 million funds the project, Sam Dennis, UW Department of Landscape Architecture associate professor, said. The fund comes from the Wisconsin Partnership Program of UW School of Medicine and Public Health, according to the project website.

The two partner organizations will work together to develop the network and measure its success over the next five years, Dennis said.

Dennis said this is the biggest grant they have received so far. Initially, the project began with a planning grant, then a three-year implementation grant and now the five-year community impact grant.

“This is the big rolling out of a state-wide project and that’s our plan, to serve the state,” Dennis said.

Upon recognizing the need for a more supportive network, the two organizations established hubs in five different regions of Wisconsin to support outdoor education, Dennis said.

Larson has found over the years that an individual teacher or parent will start a garden, but they can be hard to maintain without institutional support, he said. The programs will combat this issue by providing a network for sharing ideas and support, Larson said.

“A lot of gardens are working a little bit in isolation, but what we have found is that when educators running school gardens are connected with others in the area, everybody benefits,” Larson said.

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Categories: Local Media

Police arrest three anti-Semitic graffiti suspects

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 12:12pm

University of Wisconsin and Madison Police Departments Wednesday arrested three people in connection with several instances of anti-Semitic graffiti found around campus in recent weeks.

According to a MPD incident report:

Police arrested three 21-year-old men yesterday following an investigation conducted by both UWPD and MPD. The three are believed to have been responsible for the Wolfsangel symbols that have appeared on various campus buildings, MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain said.

Community leaders respond to new instances of anti-Semitic graffitiWith more anti-Semitic graffiti found on and around the University of Wisconsin campus, community leaders are emphasizing the need for …

The symbol is an early Nazi emblem that has since been adopted by some white supremacist groups.

According to a UWPD incident report, a UWPD security officer found one of the arrested suspects, Timothy A. Arnold, sleeping on the fourth floor exterior level of Vilas Hall at 10:50 p.m. Wednesday night.

During the interaction, Arnold — who was intoxicated — fought with the officer, but was eventually taken into custody. He was booked into the Dane County Jail for a misdemeanor arrest of resisting a police officer and citations for possession of alcohol on UW lands and camping on UW lands.

It is still unclear if any of the three men arrested are UW students. UWPD has not responded to requests for comment. The investigation is ongoing.

This post will be updated as new information is received. 

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Categories: Local Media

Students ‘Steepin’ it Real’ in conversations about UW, minorities, politics

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 11:07pm

University of Wisconsin students met to discuss current issues, respectability politics and minority groups in Multicultural Student Center’s monthly Steepin’ it Real event Wednesday.

Respectability politics take place when marginalized groups attempt to mold their own members to make them assimilate better into mainstream society, Danaan Yo, MSC programming graduate assistant, said. Rather than challenging mainstream society’s values for failing to accept differences, members of marginalized groups change themselves.

Yo asked students to talk about their own encounters with respectability politics. UW junior Malik Anderson said one incident involved his parents not allowing him to grow his hair because it would be perceived as unprofessional.

Dania Shoukfeh, another UW student, said the April 21 Library Mall demonstration to protest the arrest of Denzel McDonald sparked backlash on social media platforms like YikYak. People spoke against the protest, saying there were better, less disturbing ways — like writing a letter to UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank — to protest McDonald’s arrest.

But Shoukfeh said the backlash was an example of respectability politics because people did not want to deviate from mainstream society and seem “uncivilized” while protesting.

“People were saying, ‘Couldn’t you find a more civilized way to voice your opinion?’ But really it was respectability politics,” Shoukfeh said.

[UPDATED] Hundreds protest arrest of UW student on campus[UPDATED]: Hundreds of University of Wisconsin students, faculty and staff marched in solidarity with Denzel McDonald from Bascom Hill to College …

UW senior Sean Avery said respectability politics also made marginalized group members “feel small” and silenced them. He said among the black community, respectability politics was a way to be safe at a time when violence against community members was common. Assimilating to match mainstream society was helpful then, but he said this ideology was passed down and still maintains itself in society today.

#TheRealUW and lack of attention

Students at the event also discussed #TheRealUW and the impact that it had on campus. UW freshman Kaylin Langer said a lot of students felt the hashtag was “overdramatized.” She said these students pointed to alternative resources on campus where such matters could be discussed.

Confronting #TheRealUW: Marginalized students reveal experiences of an unwelcoming campusLauna Owens, a 19-year-old black freshman at University of Wisconsin, woke up slightly late for class Thursday morning in her …

 

But she said discussing matters this way is not going to do anything to educate those who were unaware of why the hashtag existed or the current campus climate.

“We can talk among ourselves but if we can’t reach people who aren’t listening then we are talking in circles,” Langer said.

UW freshman Devon Betts said people on campus need to pay more attention to current events and speak up more about them. He said most people would not report on, or did not even know about, racial bias incidents, like the one against the First Wave scholar in Sellery Hall.

UW First Wave scholar subjected to hateful language, spit on face in campus dormThree University of Wisconsin students who live in Sellery Hall reported that a resident assaulted them out of hate and …

UW freshman CJ Zabat echoed Betts’ sentiments and said only a small percentage of students are speaking out about these issues, while others are criticizing. But he said those staying silent in these situations are not helping at all.

More visibility with #TheRealUW may be mixed blessingWith many students using #TheRealUW to voice their experiences with racial prejudice on campus, a discrimination expert said there are …

Not belonging on campus

Betts said lack of attention to minority students’ issues also made them feel like they did not belong at UW.

“There are some who don’t feel like Badgers,” Betts said. “Some people consider the school their family, but some don’t and there’s a divide there.”

Langer said many students whose parents also attended UW become blinded by their legacy. They consider UW to be such an important part of their identity that they tend to ignore its negative side and problems.

Betts said privilege went beyond white supremacy. He said students from sexual minority groups face “straight privilege,” which is something UW needs to work toward addressing as well.

Steepin’ it Real takes place every month and will resume in the fall 2016 semester.

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Categories: Local Media

UW Chancellor’s Scholarship Program receives anonymous $10 million donation

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 10:48pm

Anonymous donors gifted $10 million to University of Wisconsin’s Chancellor’s Scholarship Program to help support underrepresented ethnic minority students and socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

The donation, announced Wednesday, is a matching gift, which the anonymous donors hope will inspire others to donate to CSP, according to a UW statement.

$250 million donation to UW will go to research, faculty supportFor what was expected to take at least three years to match in donations, Badger alumni stepped up to invest …

UW Foundation spokesperson Alisa Robertson said the donors are longtime supporters of CSP and have been committed to improving campus diversity for many years.

“We are incredibly fortunate that generous alumni and friends have provided opportunities that help improve the student experience in so many areas including programmatic support, scholarships, facilities, faculty excellence and more,” Robertson said.

CSP is a scholarship that covers the cost of tuition and fees. Originally established in 1984, CSP serves to increase educational opportunities for “academically talented” underrepresented students and socioeconomic disadvantaged students. There are currently 255 CSP students enrolled at UW.

Million dollar donation will bring more active learning to lecturesWith a new $1.5 million donation, the University of Wisconsin’s REACH project hopes to improve efforts to bring interactive learning to …

CSP-enrolled students have a wide variety of majors. Many enrolled students continue to pursue graduate and professional degrees in their fields. According to the UW statement, CSP students enrolled in UW in 2011 had a four-year graduation rate of 71.7 percent.

Heather Kozlowski, a senior CSP engineering student, said in the statement the donation will allow CSP to add faculty members to the program to serve as mentors.

These mentors will help students remain competitive academically and continue on with their education.

“We have competitive internships and will be attending top grad schools,” Kozlowski said. “My peers inspire me and I am constantly reminded and motivated to keep up.”

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Categories: Local Media

Old ice records from citizen scientists provide context for history of global warming

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 10:46pm

Thanks to the discovery of very old observations from “citizen scientists” in Japan and Finland, envisioning the warming of the Earth since the Industrial Revolution just got a little bit easier.

A study published in Nature Scientific Reports Tuesday brought to light nearly 600-year-old records of freezing and thawing patterns of water.

What these records reveal is not particularly surprising — the Earth has experienced increased warming since the Industrial Revolution, John Magnuson, co-author of the study and director emeritus at the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Limnology, said.

“So we didn’t discover something brand new, but we managed to call attention to a dataset based on observation by humans, which, in many ways, are simpler to view and evaluate,” Magnuson said.

In order to attend a workshop on lake ice records around the world at the Center for Limnology’s Trout Lake Station, scientists were required to bring their datasets. The Finnish and Japanese scientists in attendance just happened to come with extremely old and rare records of ice cover change,  Magnuson said.

Studies on climate pre-Industrial Revolution are rare. Sapna Sharma, a biologist at York University and co-author of the study, said these records provide context for what the climate was like long before the intense burning of fossil fuels.

According to the study, priests in Japan began keeping records of ice freeze dates on Lake Suwa in 1442 for religious purposes. A Finnish merchant named Olof Ahlbom began taking annual records of when the ice broke up on the Torne River in 1693. Keeping track of ice seasonability on the Torne was important due to the river’s role in trade, transportation, food and recreation.

Despite being nearly half a world apart, these two bodies of water experienced very similar trends of extreme warmth and changing ice seasonality beginning in the late 18th century. But reviewers were worried these effects were produced by localities, Magnuson said.

In response, the authors decided to enlist experts from both countries who could speak the language, talk to the people and get local information, he said.

“We felt that these things would not have the same patterns if they were a world apart and being determined largely by local factors,” Magnuson said. “Then we quantified the local factors and concluded that they were not important.”

Ice seasonality is sensitive to climatic change, which is why record-keepers have seen later freeze, earlier breakup and shorter ice cover duration since the Industrial Revolution.

The study found the increased prevalence of extreme warm years in both locations have contributed to shorter ice seasonality. From 1443 to 1700, there were only three occasions in which Lake Suwa did not completely freeze over. Suwa has frozen over only five of the past 10 years.

In the case of Finland’s Torne River, extreme warm years were identified by ice breakup dates before early May. This occurred 10 times between 1693 and 1899, but nine times between 2000 and 2013.

The implications of reduced ice cover are still fuzzy. These trends could lead to increased water temperature, algal blooms or changes to fish populations, but concrete consequences remain unclear, Sharma said.

To some, though, ice is a meaningful aspect of their heritage. Magnuson believes the most negative aspect of reduced ice cover in the north is not physical, but emotional.

“The lake is very different if it doesn’t have ice on it, but it’s not different in the sense that it’s badly damaged,” he said. “For people like myself who grew up here and love winter, ice on the lake is part of our sense of place.”

This article was updated to state the Torne River is in Finland. 

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Categories: Local Media

UW alumnus’ ‘Evicted’ chosen as UW’s next Go Big Read book

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 10:14pm

University of Wisconsin announced Wednesday an alumnus’ best-selling book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” will be the 2016-17 Go Big Read, hopefully prompting discussion of poverty across campus in the upcoming school year.

The author of the book, Matthew Desmond, received his doctorate from UW in 2010 and now works as an associate professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University. Desmond is also a winner of the 2015 MacArthur Genius Award.

UW Alumnus named “genius,” receives MacArthur Foundation grantUniversity of Wisconsin alumnus, Matthew Desmond is one of 24 people to be named a MacArthur Fellow for his outstanding …

The book focuses on the stories of eight Milwaukee families struggling with the loss of their homes, according to a UW statement.

In his book, Desmond addresses the fundamental question of what is American, and whether or not having a good place to live is part of the identity, Shelia Stoeckel, a UW senior academic librarian, said.

Based off of the theme Go Big Read selected last semester, immigration and communities, Stoeckel said Desmond’s book will focus on the community aspect of the chosen theme. While the book focuses on the poverty Desmond surveyed in Milwaukee, it also translates to Madison and other parts of the state.

‘Go Big Read’ considering books for new theme of immigration and communitiesUniversity of Wisconsin’s Go Big Read selection committee is looking for new book suggestions for next year’s new theme: immigration and communities. …

“I think this book is very multifaceted,” Stoeckel said. “Matthew talks about poverty and how unstable housing can effect many aspects of people’s lives.”

In addition, Stoeckel said the book bridges nicely with this past school year’s Go Big Read, “Just Mercy.” A lot of the conversations about incarceration correlate with some of the questions of shelter and poverty posed in Desmond’s book.

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in the statement Desmond’s book will enable UW to talk about the “profound implications” poverty has on American families — particularly in communities of color.

“I’m proud that an alum has brought this issue to the forefront and I look forward to conversations in our community about this important subject,” Blank said.

This article was updated to reflect the full meaning of Stoeckel’s quote. 

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Categories: Local Media

State board looks to improve voter education in Wisconsin

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 9:27pm

Preparing for the August and November elections, the Government Accountability Board pushed the Joint Committee on Finance for more funds to improve voter ID law education across Wisconsin.

The GAB created and voted 4-2 for a proposal requesting $250,000 from the Joint Committee on Finance Monday. GAB spokesperson Reid Magney said the money would go into creating television advertisements and other similar voter ID law education initiatives.

Wisconsin’s voter ID law was created in 2011, but was never fully implemented because of lawsuits against it between then and 2016, Magney said. GAB created several videos and advertisements to educate the public about the voter ID law in 2011, but never broadcasted them. The February Wisconsin Supreme Court primary was the first election that used the voter ID requirement.

To vote or not to vote: Many still unaware of voter photo ID lawWisconsin’s voter ID law has come under fire, and a University of Wisconsin expert said efforts to educate the public about …

The $250,000 in state funds GAB requested would help GAB develop and broadcast advertisements to the public between now and the November presidential election, Magney said.

“The ads and videos are a rocket and the funding is the fuel we need for it to take off,” Magney said.

Jay Heck, Wisconsin Common Cause director, said it is “essential” that GAB receives the funding from the Joint Committee on Finance. He said a lack of voter education campaigning on the Legislature’s part negatively impacted voters during the February and April primaries. Many voters were unsure of what documents were necessary and valid, which could have discouraged them from voting, he said.

A look at the ‘voter suppression’ that occurred at pollsThough the Wisconsin spring presidential primary has come and gone, many are still concerned with the “voter suppression” that occurred …

The only efforts made to educate the public statewide were through Common Cause, GAB’s website and other local initiatives, Heck said. Any of the voter ID law education efforts made in 2011 were meaningless for the February and April primaries because they were too long ago.

Heck said GAB itself did not put forth enough energy before the February primary to obtain more funds. But even if it had, $250,000 would not have been enough for the four state elections in February, April, August and November 2016. This amount could make a difference for the August and November elections, though, he said.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement he supports voter education, but a lot of the money that could have gone toward developing it went toward defending the voter ID law in “frivolous lawsuits” instead. He said the same groups that lobbied against the law are now asking for more voter education efforts.

Court of appeals reconsiders striking down Wisconsin voter ID lawU.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed to take on Wisconsin groups’ lawsuit against the state’s voter ID law …

But Heck said putting money into voter education should be a priority. He said some have argued more money does not need to go into voter education efforts because people should “just know” about it. He said this view is unrealistic and potentially problematic.

“There is almost nothing more important than making people aware of changes in the law and what they need to do to cast a vote,” Heck said. “It’s a perfectly legitimate and absolutely necessary use of public funds in order to educate the population about their most basic civil function.”

Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, who is co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, said in a statement the committee will be seriously considering GAB’s request. He said maintaining the integrity of elections and ensuring every vote is counted is not a partisan issue and should be important to all.

The Joint Committee on Finance is currently examining the proposal and is expected to release a decision during its next session in May.

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Categories: Local Media

Justice Prosser announces retirement after 40 years of public service

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 7:12pm

After more than four decades of public service to Wisconsin, Justice David Prosser announced Wednesday he will retire July 31.

According to a statement released by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, before becoming a justice, Prosser was a commissioner on the Wisconsin Tax Appeals Commission from 1997 to 1998 and a state representative from 1978 to 1996.

During his time as a representative, he served as speaker of the house for two years and minority leader for five years. After 18 years as a state representative, he became a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, where he has served almost another 18 years.

Prosser said in a letter to Gov. Scott Walker working in all three branches of the government during his career was an “exceptional privilege.”

“Public service was the career I chose at an early age,” Prosser said. “That goal has been fulfilled.”

Walker said in a statement during Prosser’s time on the Supreme Court he demonstrated “his love for the law and commitment to Wisconsin’s citizens.” He said it was his pleasure to serve with Prosser while in the Assembly together and thanked him for his service to the state.

Jay Heck, Common Cause Wisconsin executive director, said Prosser’s retirement will cause a highly contested Supreme Court election early next year. Walker will have to appoint someone to fill Prosser’s vacant seat after July 31, Heck said.

Whoever is nominated, Heck said, will also have to stand for election again next year, in a race similar to the election between Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley and Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg.

[UPDATED] Cruz, Sanders win Wisconsin primaryU.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, won the Wisconsin primaries for their respective parties Tuesday …

In his letter to Walker, Prosser gave the governor advice for picking his successor.

“In choosing my successor, Governor, I respectfully request that you select a person who is fully committed to the important mission of the judiciary,” Prosser said. “Such a person will understand that promoting the reputation and integrity of the institution is more important than the promotion of any individual.”

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University police search for suspects in Memorial Union property damage incident

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 5:39pm

University of Wisconsin Police Department is looking for any information about two individuals who damaged property at Memorial Union early Tuesday morning.

According to the UWPD incident report, the two suspects were in Memorial Union around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. Staff members tried to ask them why they were in the union after hours, and the two suspects left the area.

It was later discovered by video surveillance that the two individuals had damaged property inside the building and been in the construction area outside the building.

UWPD is looking for any information regarding the identities of the two suspects. If you have any information, call UWPD at 608-262-2957 or Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 608-266-6014.

Courtesy of UWPD

Courtesy of UWPD

Courtesy of UWPD

 

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Political commentator Dinesh D’Souza offers perception of a ‘leftist diversity’

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 6:27am

Students, faculty and community members gathered Tuesday night in the Social Sciences building to listen to political commentator and author, Dinesh D’Souza, offer a leftist’s interpretation of diversity and justice.

An immigrant from India, D’Souza came to America and attended Dartmouth College. After graduating he became a political commentator. His most recent works include “Obama’s America” and “America: Imagine a World Without Her.”

To explain the leftist’s diversity, D’Souza covered the three types of justice in America — criminal, economic and racial.

Speaking from personal experience, D’Souza explained how he had to face the U.S. criminal justice system in 2014 when he was put on trial for making illegal campaign contributions to a friend running for the New York Senate in 2012.

D’Souza said he committed the crime, but said he had only given more than the limit in campaign contributions to help his friend. Unlike other people who have spent over the limit, D’Souza said he did not expect anything in return for his contributions.

D’Souza compared his eight-month confinement center sentencing to a significantly smaller sentence that another man who gave illegal campaign contributions received.

D’Souza said he realized justice is more than if a person is guilty of a crime, but whether the penalty administered is fair and consistent with the penalties other people receive for similar crimes.

“If those conditions are not met, then you don’t really have justice — you may put up the name justice … but you are not really getting justice at all; you are getting a sham,” he said.

D’Souza suggested the concept of justice in the U.S. is murkier than citizens realize, due in part to the country’s powerful plea-bargain system.

Pivoting away from criminal justice, D’Souza discussed economic justice, which he finds at the center of the political debate between Democrats and Republicans.

Fairness is the core value of the Democratic party, D’Souza said. The Obama administration believes “people should have their fair share,” D’Souza said, adding it is important to consider what a “person’s fair share” truly means.

D’Souza argued Democrats often say the top 1 percent of Americans should pay higher taxes. But Democrats don’t put a limit on how much they pay until they have supposedly paid their “fair share,” he said.

D’Souza said people who make enough money to fall in the top 1 percent are often entrepreneurs. They come up with ideas to develop new products, taking risks to create them before people even realize they need them, he said.

“How are people like [entrepreneurs] depriving anyone like us of our fair share,” D’Souza said. “In what respect have you been cheated when you [voluntarily] line up to pay money for the next newest iPhone [they have taken the risks to create]?”

Regarding racial justice, D’Souza suggested people in America need to rethink American assumptions and accusations.

D’Souza argued Democrats largely put the blame for racial injustices on America itself, when historically they are to blame for many racial injustices.

Going as far back as the Civil War, D’Souza said Democrats were the ones who opposed the end of slavery and, following the end of the war, proceeded to deny amendments that would allow black people to vote and gain rights.

Much of this injustice continued throughout the 20th century, despite arguments Democrats had “switched sides” and were leaders of social justice movements, D’Souza said

D’Souza said he hoped his view on justice opens young students to the possibilities beyond the prevailing narratives in America.

“Wake up young man, wake up young woman, don’t take it received from the spoon,” D’Souza said. “The facts are actually there, but it’s hard to put them together because you have to do it all by yourself.”

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Community leaders respond to new instances of anti-Semitic graffiti

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 6:27am

With more anti-Semitic graffiti found on and around the University of Wisconsin campus, community leaders are emphasizing the need for a campus culture change.

According to police and witness reports, at least nine instances of graffiti featuring the Wolfsangel, a symbol of the Nazi party, have been found in various locations on and off UW campus.

[UPDATED]: Anti-Semitic, white supremacist graffiti found in UW’s Greek life community[UPDATED]: Joel DeSpain, Madison Police Department spokesperson, said MPD is aware of the graffiti incidents that happened on Langdon Street and …

The UW Police Department and the Madison Police Department are working together to investigate the graffiti incidents and find the perpetrator.

There have been four new instances of graffiti with the same symbol identified since The Badger Herald last reported on the anti-Semitic graffiti. One was found on the back of Agriculture Hall, another outside of Walgreens on East Campus Mall and another near the Campus Village Apartments on Mills Street. UWPD is also investigating anti-Semitic graffiti found on a rock near Picnic Point, Marc Lovicott, UWPD spokesperson, said.

Wolfsangel symbol found at Walgreens on East Campus Mall
Alice Vagun/The Badger Herald

Wolfsangel symbol found near Campus Village Apartments
Photo courtesy of Allison Chang 

In addition to the new reports, another piece of graffiti was located in the Greek life community adjacent to the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. This may be one of the three graffiti tags initially found in the Greek life community, but officials have not yet confirmed. 

Wolfsangel symbol found near Alpha Epsilon Phi
Emily Hamer/The Badger Herald

Five instances of graffiti had previously been found, three in UW’s Greek life community, one on the University Bookstore and one near Engineering Hall. The graffiti found on the west wall of the University Bookstore and near Engineering Hall have both been removed.

[UPDATED]: Two new instances of anti-Semitic graffiti found on UW campus[UPDATED]: Two instances of white supremacist graffiti were located on the University of Wisconsin campus, one on the University Bookstore …

The Wolfsangel was adopted by far right Nazi organizations in the early 20th century, including some pro-Nazi groups, Amos Bitzan, UW history professor and expert on Jewish history, said. The symbol is still used by far right groups, including the Aryan nation, a white supremacist religious organization. Bitzan said he and many others on campus are alarmed by the intolerable graffiti.

“I think this is a concern for UW,” Bitzan said. “Wolfsangel is clearly being used as an anti-Semitic symbol for racist attacks against Jewish people and institutions on campus.”

Greg Steinberger, executive director of UW-Hillel, said the instances follow a trend of hateful, angry and aggressive activity happening both on campus and nationwide. He said this contributes to a hostile campus environment that discourages diversity.

UW officials respond to swastika ‘bias incident’ in campus dormUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison officials held a press conference Thursday to address the Jan 26 hate crime of students taping swastikas and a picture …

Using anti-Semitic symbols in graffiti is unacceptable, John Lucas, UW spokesperson, said in an email to The Badger Herald.

“Graffiti making use of white supremacist symbols is unacceptable in our community,” Lucas said. “UWPD and MPD are investigating these instances and we hope they’ll learn who is responsible.”

MPD Chief Mike Koval said in a press conference he doesn’t want to publicize where MPD is in the investigation because he doesn’t want to throw off the culprit or encourage people to copy the perpetrator.

MPD chief promises selfies, camaraderie at MifflinMadison Police Department Chief Mike Koval held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the upcoming Mifflin Street Block Party after his …

Koval said the symbols follow a heightened sense of “hateful rhetoric” around UW’s campus. MPD detectives and officers with training in hate crimes and bias incidents have been sent to investigate, Koval said.

Lovicott said he finds the anti-Semitic graffiti and other instances of hate and bias on campus “troubling.”

“This is inappropriate. For one, it’s illegal … but the hateful undertone of this graffiti is really troubling,” Lovicott said. “It’s concerning to know there are people out there, or someone out there, who is spreading this.”

Confronting #TheRealUW: Marginalized students reveal experiences of an unwelcoming campusLauna Owens, a 19-year-old black freshman at University of Wisconsin, woke up slightly late for class Thursday morning in her …

Since the same images and the same color paint are being used in multiple locations, Lovicott said it’s possible all the instances of anti-Semitic graffiti are related, but UWPD won’t know until the investigation is complete. Lovicott said UWPD has some leads and is making progress.

Steinberger said it’s important for the UW community, staff, faculty and students to come together and talk about changing UW’s campus climate for the better. He said UW needs to work on making education, resources and penalties more effective.

“Has enough been done? No. Is there a simple solution? No,” Steinberger said. “I don’t think that things will change overnight … I think as these many weeks or months have gone on, we are seeing people try to lean in to make a difference.”

If someone sees an instance of graffiti on campus they are encouraged to report it to UWPD dispatch at (608) 264-2677 or as a hate and bias incident.

If the case is off campus, it can be reported to MPD and to the city for removal. Anyone with more information about the graffiti is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014. If someone sees graffiti happening in progress they should call 911.

Teymour Tomsyck contributed reporting to this article. 

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Categories: Local Media

Dean Strang from ‘Making a Murderer’ talks criminal justice problems in Wisconsin

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 6:16am

The “pastoral setting” and “heart of America” ambience of “Making a Murderer” made it difficult to write Steven Avery’s wrongful conviction off as a narrow problem related only to large cities or race and ethnicity, defense attorney Dean Strang said.

Had Avery been a person of color and from an urban area, the Netflix docuseries probably would not have gotten the same reception, Strang said in an interview with The Badger Herald.

“I fear a swatch of the viewership would’ve dismissed this or minimized the story as ‘well, those are big city problems,’ or ‘well, now you’re talking to me about race,'” Strang said.

He told the Herald that while race did not play a role in the Avery case, it appears to make a difference in Dane County, which has the worst rates of minority confinements in the country, especially when looking at drug offenses.

Legal professionals discuss broken criminal justice system at Cap Times panelLegal professionals discussed problems with the criminal justice system and the importance of reform at a Cap Times panel Tuesday.  …

In his lecture Tuesday as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series at University of Wisconsin, Strang discussed the current state of the criminal justice system in America. The “Making a Murderer” defense attorney emphasized the issue of racial disparities, citing it as one of the most urgent problems that not only Wisconsin faces, but the nation as a whole.

Racial disparities in arrest, conviction and sentencing all need to be addressed, Strang said. The second most urgent problem is Wisconsin has the lowest hourly rate for court appointed defense council in the country, Strang said.

In Wisconsin courts, the defense council is compensated $40 an hour, with an additional $25 an hour for traveling fees, Strang said. Since 1978, the hourly rate has only gone up $5, he said.

The state Legislature recently turned away a proposed bill that would’ve increased the compensation cap for the wrongfully convicted from $25,000 to $50,000 — a move Strang believes shows that “the Legislature doesn’t value the lost years of those lives.”

Fighting for a ‘fresh start': Wrongful conviction compensation bill would seal court recordsA bill to increase compensation for wrongfully convicted persons and allow them to seal court criminal records has raised concerns …

“[This ruling portrays] that innocence does not matter very much to us; we do not value the lives of the wrongfully convicted,” Strang said. “They are treated as the ‘other,’ and even when they are proven innocent and released, they are treated as outsiders.”

As a member on the Advisory Board of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Strang worries the project will face challenges in upcoming years due to insufficient funding. The funds necessary to provide legitimate claims of innocence may leave potential cases waiting longer than the already three to seven-year waiting period.

While he may not be able to help everyone seeking to overturn a wrongful conviction, Strang aims to get his students thinking about what justice means in a structured, organized way by encouraging them to think through a humanities perspective.

“Often, the law school experience is dominated by the language of the social sciences, policy, incentives or behavior, cost-benefit analysis,” Strang said. “I encourage students to think from a humanities perspective about what justice means and our obligation to pursue justice in an organized, philosophical way.”

Strang said to move forward in Wisconsin, citizens should vote for judges who are “smart on crime,” rather than “hard on crime.”

People need to think about the outcomes in Wisconsin courtrooms, and the accuracy, fairness and decency of the process, he said.

“We can’t have confidence that we have a reliable criminal justice system that locks this many peoples up for as long as they do,” Strang said.

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Categories: Local Media

UW System schools could have individual control over pricing tuition

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 11:37pm

With Gov. Scott Walker’s tuition freeze coming to an end in 2017, a new task force has been implemented to discuss how tuition prices will be set for University of Wisconsin System schools in the future.

The UW System Tuition Setting Task Force decided at a meeting in Van Hise Tuesday UW schools should have more control over how expensive their tuitions are.

Right now, tuition prices are set by the Board of Regents. Tuition for the UW System has been frozen for the past four years because of budgets passed by Walker, but Regent Tim Higgins, said there’s no guarantee that freeze will continue past 2017.

Walker meets with College Republicans, talks tuition freeze, student loan debtGov. Scott Walker responded to Democratic criticism Tuesday regarding his college affordability package by saying Democrats are responsible for making tuition …

At the meeting, members of the task force decided each campus should have the ability to present tuition change requests individually, allowing each university to have different tuitions.

Higgins said it’s important to discuss reasons for increases or decreases in tuition so the reasoning behind setting tuition at a certain price actually makes sense.

“For years we were given a 5.5 percent tuition cap and we just did 5.5 percent tuition increases and it wasn’t rationalized, we just did it,” Higgins said. “That’s not fair. We need to be able to explain why we’re doing it and that’s what we’re trying to get to now.”

$250 million cut to UW System remains as Assembly passes state budgetThe state Assembly sent a final draft of the 2015-17 biennial budget bill to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk, passing the …

Freda Harris, UW System Office of Budget and Planning spokesperson, said it’s important to make sure universities have the ability to decrease tuitions. She said many institutions may choose to decrease tuition to increase attendance rates.

Tim Norris, from the UW-Madison Budget Office, said if tuition is increased at a school, another possibility would be to use that extra money to offer more financial aid, like many private institutions do. That way, tuition would be higher, but very few students would actually pay the full cost of tuition.

The task force plans to implement changes in three stages, Higgins said. The first is to come up with a model for setting tuitions. The second is to get feedback on that model from legislators, Walker, students, parents and faculty and incorporate their input into a final draft of the model.

While coming up with a model, the task force will look at tuition as it connects to four different areas: affordability for students, the market, costs to the universities and state needs.

Higgins said making tuition affordable is the most important of these areas.

“Affordability is by far the key of all these things,” Higgins said.

The cost of knowledge: Average UW student graduates with nearly $30,000 in loan debtColton Wickland, like an increasing number of college students in recent years, faces anxiety about how to pay for college. …

Bob Jokisch, Office for Academic and Student Affairs’ spokesperson, said the number of students with student debt and the amount of debt at graduation are both increasing.

Donna Dahlvang, UW-Superior spokesperson, said it’s important to make sure tuition does not rise to the cost of outpacing student loans. She said if loans aren’t even enough to pay for tuition, students won’t be able to attend college.

The task force’s goal is to finish its model by the end of the summer and present it to the Board of Regents in the fall. Its next meeting is May 20.

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New Orpheum Theater sign expected by May

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 10:07pm

After years of planning, The Orpheum Theater will have a new marquee sign by May, modeled after the historical landmark’s original sign created in 1927.

Orpheum co-owner Henry Duane has led a campaign to “relight the Orpheum marquee” since he took over the theater in the ’90s. Dan Yoder, owner of Sign Art Studio, said he took an early interest in restoring the Orpheum’s historic sign and personally reached out to the owners, who hired him for the job the next day.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, has been involved with the building of the sign and said he, like many other community members, is eagerly awaiting the installment of the new sign.

“The Orpheum is a Madison gem,” Verveer said. “It’s taken different forms, but throughout its entire history, the Orpheum has been a central part of Madison’s community.”

Madison’s Orpheum Theater to see new sign by year’s endHigh rise apartments and swanky bars will no longer be the only projects making waves on State Street. Madison’s historic …

The sign, which will be 55-feet tall and 10-feet wide, will be an exact replica of the Orpheum’s original sign, which was taken down in the late ’50s. Since the historic sign is lost, Yoder and his team built the sign based off old photos. The team, whose past experience includes creating signs for Lambeau Field and the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame, was committed to replicating the sign perfectly, going as far as to count each lightbulb in the original photo, totaling 2,000 bulbs.

Yoder said the most challenging part of building the sign was its impressive size, which meant his team had to construct the sign in six different sections. Yoder said he still enjoyed the chance to work on the project.

While the community’s reaction to the new sign has been overwhelmingly positive, some people have been less than enthusiastic about replacing the Orpheum’s sign, Yoder said.

“There’s a few who don’t want to take down the iconic Orpheum sign, but you know, it was rusty, it was falling apart, it was not safe and it was just an old sign that wasn’t even the original sign to begin with,” he said. “So we’re bringing the original back.”

Verveer said part of the funding for the new sign, which cost roughly $200,000, came from the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation. The organization had a fundraising campaign for many years that allowed community members to make tax deductible donations to go toward the cost of restoring the marquee, Verveer said.

Yoder said his team feels proud to be involved in the restoration of the local and historical landmark.

“That sign will be in people’s wedding photos for the next 100 years,” Yoder said.

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Chancellor Blank fears division between faculty, Board of Regents

Tue, 04/26/2016 - 6:27pm

University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank responded with concern and disapproval to a UW Faculty Senate announcement that it plans to vote on a “no confidence” resolution regarding the Board of Regents and UW System President, Ray Cross.

In a blog post Tuesday, Blank acknowledged the anger and frustration faculty have felt toward changes made over the past year, which includes tenure, but voiced her disapproval of the Faculty Senate’s resolution.

Faculty Senate to vote on no-confidence resolution toward Ray Cross, Board of RegentsUniversity of Wisconsin’s Faculty Senate released its plan Monday to vote on a resolution expressing no confidence in UW System President Ray …

Fearing the resolution will only create division between UW faculty and the board, Blank said she opposes it and hopes the Faculty Senate will not officially endorse it.

Considering UW often partners with the regents and makes annual requests for approval of UW policies, Blank said such a resolution has a high chance of resulting in “substantial negative effects.”

“Many staff and faculty at UW-Madison work daily with the staff under the authority and leadership of President Cross,” Blank said. “I can personally attest that he has consistently advanced the best interest of our campus, both publicly and behind the scenes. He does not deserve this resolution.”

Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said in a statement that the actions UW governing members have taken show an “arrogance” that does not serve their university or students well.

Steineke said the vote demonstrates the “disconnect” between UW faculty who believe their jobs have a “forever guarantee” and the average Wisconsin family struggling to get by.

“These changes should not be used to retaliate against President Ray Cross or the UW Board of Regents whose leadership and vision for the UW System is exactly what we need during this time,” Steineke said.

Dave Vanness, associate professor of population health sciences, said he understands the chancellor’s concerns and the difficult position she has been put in. He said it’s important to see the resolution as more than just a statement highlighting a lack of confidence in the UW System leadership, but a call for better leadership.

The vote won’t result in the replacement of UW System leaders, but is important because it demonstrates the faculty’s “grave concern” that the budget cuts and other changes this year are threatening the quality of education, Vanness said.

“Our leadership has not fought against those changes — they have embraced them, and the students and citizens of the state deserve better,” he said. 

Cross has not made a statement in response to the vote due to it being a “faculty matter,” but Alex Hummel, UW System spokesperson, said Cross and the regents recognize and respect the concerns the Faculty Senate have a right to voice.

Hummel said Cross and the regents are currently addressing the results of the budget impacts released earlier this month, and have been reaching out to students to determine how they can best improve their experiences.

State cuts dive deep into UW System institutions’ pockets, according to documentsDocuments released Monday showed UW System campuses are feeling the cost of the 2015-17 state budget cuts through faculty layoffs and course reductions. …

Next week the Faculty Senate will make a decision whether to endorse the resolution or not. Vanness said the original statement UW professor Chad Goldberg wrote will likely change prior to the vote.

Blank said UW can live with changes to tenure and policies the Board of Regents previously approved and hopes the Faculty Senate will consider this in their meeting.

“I very much hope that the UW Faculty Senate will not give its endorsement to this counterproductive resolution,” Blank said. “I believe it will only reduce support for us at a time we need to communicate our value to the citizens of Wisconsin as strongly as possible.”

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