Oh, and in the image, that's me off to the left there.
I sure hope Steve Nass appreciates that so many UW faculty have been holding so many office hours, up to 20 just since Tuesday and right there at the Capitol. No charge, Steve, no charge. (Haven't laid eyes on him, though.)
A number of people have asked for various updates, so here goes, just from my perspective and what I know or have heard:
TODAY: Major rally at 10:30. Tea Party and open carry (i.e. gun) people at noon. TAA and other unions have organized sets of marshals, people to do what we can to keep things calm, avoid conflict, and keep the tone positive. One D from the Assembly told a group of us last night that most of the counter-protesters are being bussed in with money from FreedomWorks (Dick Armey's group) and the Koch Brothers. Security, based on a set of reports from all sorts of people, will be very heavy. There's been talk about Sarah Palin showing, but that feels like a rumor to me at this point.
Saturday afternoon, when most of the counter-protesters are on the bus home, people want to make sure there remains a strong and steady presence over the weekend.
MONDAY: State workers are furloughed, and are expected to turn out in large numbers. This means ...
TUESDAY: Current talk is about making the next really huge push from campus on Tuesday. I haven't heard anything official yet, but I believe that people are going to ask again for a teach-out and rally on that day. Stay tuned.
First, TAA and other union people and activists are staying in the Capitol around the clock. If you go to the Capitol, please say a word of support to them. At least one faculty member dropped by with a donation of money. Others have sent pizzas (Ian's is close and seems popular) and others are coming by and just asking 'what can I do?'. These people are literally staying there around the clock. (I walked in yesterday on a conversation among a whole set of TAs where the theme was how many straight nights they could comfortably stay without going home -- folks seemed good with a couple nights in a row, but wanted to go home to bed every third night.) They are really committed and well organized and are tremendously appreciative for any sign of support. (The room IS an absolute zoo, as you might imagine.)
By the way, testimony is STILL going on about the budget bill, to a group of D assembly people. (Well, that's obvious. The Rs don't want to hear it and the D senators aren't around.)
Second, if you know people who would like to be included on these emails, please send me their *non-UW* addresses and I'll add them. In the meantime, feel free to pass this on. I'm using non-UW emails only, and urge you to as well. But once I hit 'send', that's no longer my call.
OVERALL, the stakes are now extremely high for us and for the future of our University. As the NYT and other papers are pointing out, this is a national debate now. Simply turning a few vulnerable Rs could remove some of the most damaging parts of the bill. If we are able to keep bargaining rights for people on campus and throughout the state, that would be huge.
People are obviously also talking about the situation with regard to the New Badger Partnership, which obviously fits with this situation. Probably more on that in the coming days.
One of the most respected and trusted faculty leaders on campus has been saying something to this effect: "Today, this is the greatest land grant university in the world, but the odds are good that it won't be in six months." That is a dead serious assessment from one of the people best positioned to know. Our obligation is to beat those odds.