The Proletarian | Wisconsin is no democracy for the people

Conservative officials’ lame-duck bills are the evidence

ETHAN COSTELLO | coste012@rangers.uwp.edu

The debacle that occurred last week Wednesday in the State Congress is evidence to the fact the Wisconsin is no democracy, at least not the democracy that we think it is. The Wis. legislation just passed a series of bills which aim to protect exiting Gov. Scott Walker’s achievements as well as cripple the incoming state executives governor-elect Tony Evers and lieutenant-elect Mandela Barnes.

Here is a very brief summation of passed bills: 1) Shortening the early voting period to two weeks before elections; 2) Greatly weakening the attorney general’s position; 3) enact greater stipulations on government funded healthcare for WI citizens; 4) restrict the governor’s ability to perform.

With a conservative majority in place—and with another conservative majority swearing-in in January—these newly passed bills render Ever’s campaign promises inert.

Perhaps more relevant to the University of Wisconsin, the State Senate has just approved Walker’s appointment for the Board of Regents seat. The Assembly is said to be following suit and we will know before this publication if that is true, as they voted on it this Tuesday. Scott Beightol could replace Bryan Steil. Beightol is an attorney from a close law firm to the Wis. Republicans. Beightol assisted in gerrymandering—an undemocratic process—districts in 2011. The Assembly is said to be following suit and we will know before this publication if that is true.

What does Beightol know about the needs of students, faculty and campus staff, being a lawyer who primarily focused on labor arbitrations and trade secret? How does his appointment serve the people within our campus communities? In previous columns, I have argued that the Board of Regents does not serve campus communities, but rather corporate interests within the state. I assert that Beightol will fill the same role as the other regents, save the sole seat reserved for the State Superintendent who oversees Wisconsin’s education.

The appointment of Beightol is accompanied by more than 30 other appointments by Walker for other official positions, all approved by the senate, and all without proper vetting within public forums. Should not the people have a say in who is elected to our highest positions of office? The students, teachers and campus staff the state should be made informed of and have influential say in the appointing of policy makers of our University, and the same should apply to the whole state.

The senate bills backed by Walker that were voted on under the cover of darkness did not go unnoticed. The public was aware of the proceedings. Demonstrators occupied the Capitol building en masse during the session last Wednesday to show opposition to the lame-duck bills which are an affront to choice of the people of Wisconsin in electing progressives to office. Shortly after the session began, cries of “Shame!” echoed through the halls as protestors were forced out of the gallery by police.

The lame-duck bills passing at the highest levels of our state government and the heavy support of Board of Regent appointee Scott Beightol among legislatures is evidence that Wisconsin and the UW System is no democracy for the people, rather it is a democracy for the ruling class of our great state. In solidarity. #DemocratizeTheBoR

Ethan Costello is a senior majoring in communication, VP of No Victims Self Defense and Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society.

The Proletarian | The struggle does not end after state elections

Workers and students have won a victory by ousting Walker, but his legacy still remains

ETHAN COSTELLO | coste012@rangers.uwp.edu

Scott Walker is defeated in Wisconsin, and that should be celebrated. Wisconsin has a better platform for pushing back against backwards policies with newly elected Governor Tony Evers and Lt. Governor Mandela Barne,  respectively. It is a good thing for Wisconsin workers and students that Walker is out, but the struggle continues. Walker’s legacy of destroying unions and workers’ power was unmatched. His slashing of education has its ramifications. The consequences of Walker’s governance will persist until his work can be undone. As it is looking, due to national right-to-work laws and a majority right-wing State Assembly, Wisconsin is looking at a stagnant future.

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Current Governor Walker lost the election in favor of Superintendent Tony Evers.
Courtesy: Michael Vadon via Flickr

In 2011, Walker destabilized labor unions with Act 10, a policy that took away unions right to collectively bargain. This caused a sharp decrease in union benefits and membership. But Walker’s policy also has a federal twin in the Janus vs. AFSCME ruling. This Supreme Court case pitted Mark Janus, an Illinois employee against his union. Janus felt that because labor unions are inherently political, he should be allowed to refuse paying dues under the First Amendment free speech rights. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Janus. This consequently allows union members to refuse to pay dues allowing them to “free ride” on union benefits. Now that Walker’s ideas have been upheld nationwide—even if Evers manages to repeal Act 10 in Wisconsin—unions will still be distraught in Wisconsin.

Even at the beginning, Evers will have an uphill battle. The State Senate and Assembly are both held by a conservative majority, and Republicans in the past had been planning to attack unions for a long time. Evers will likely have a better chance at restoring Wisconsin’s education budget rather than repealing Act 10.

Evers can only do so much, considering the state of the legislature. It is now up to us to continue the fight. We need to pressure our representatives to fight for progressive changes to our education and to our workplaces by calling their offices and demanding increase to education funding. We need to continue to organize within our communities, campuses and workplaces to spread awareness because, after all, we can only gain ground if we keep pushing forward. Change happens on the grassroots level when people come together en masse to stand for what they consider to be right. Any great movement of history started small and, through hard work, grew into something grander. Let’s educate and intigate to move Wisconsin forward! In Solidarity.

Ethan Costello is a senior majoring in communication, VP of No Victims Self Defense and Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society.

The Proletarian | Fight against trans erasure nationally, locally

Incorrectly defining gender as a binary will destroy purpose of Title IX

ETHAN COSTELLO | coste012@rangers.uwp.edu

On Oct. 21, the Trump administration announced that they intend to narrow the definition of gender to being solely based on genitals at birth, as reported by The New York Times. This will effectively erase the reality of trans folk from the law books, and this is unacceptable.

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Students march silently through the campus towards the Chancellor’s office. Courtesy: Ethan Costello

The memo put out by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was obtained by The New York Times. It states, “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.” Immutable is not how the world works. Immutable is unscientific. Immutable ignores history and material reality. The biological and medical research done on gender studies supports a complex definition of sex and gender. An article published on Business Insider reports very clearly that there are multiple layers to the development of a newborn’s gender. Genetic males with XY chromosomes may be resistant to male hormones. Genetic females with XX chromosomes may develop with male hormones. Even at the most foundational level of genetic gender, there can be a variety of chromosomal combinations which already shows the diversity of gender beyond the binary. There are many different documented conditions which affect the development of a person’s genitals. There are roughly 1.4 million folks in the United States who identify as transgender, or intersex. By attempting to legally define sex as fixed based on genitals at birth, Trump and the HHS seek to erase 1.4 million from reality.

The proposal released by the HHS will also specifically affect Title IX laws. Title IX is a civil rights law which gives protections to students against discrimination in schools and universities. Along with Betsy DeVos’ push to alter Title IX to give more protections to accused sexual assaulters on college campuses, this is another backwards, regressive measure.

This is top-down bureaucracy at its finest. The officials at the head of the state have no connection to the trans masses. Trans folk cannot and are not adequately represented. Especially in this administration, relations are starkly antagonistic towards trans folk. Of course, this country has never been kind to trans folk.

We must fight against this proposal whenever we can. We must fight against Trump whenever we can. If this proposal is passed, it will put hundreds of thousands of people—trans people—at risk legally, mentally and physically. The fight must continue on our campus. In the past few years, LGBTQ student organization Rainbow Alliance had been calling on campus administration to include more gender neutral bathrooms on campus to better fit the needs of the community. This can easily be done by cheap renovations to pre-existing restrooms. There have been two modified on campus within the past three years, but it is still inadequate accommodations. So the fight continues to install other restrooms in Greenquist and Molinaro halls.

Last week on Oct. 31, Students for a Democratic Society stood with Rainbow Alliance in protest of the Trump administrations trans-erasure proposal. After demonstrating and chanting, we silently marched through campus to the Chancellor’s office to bring Rainbow Alliance’s request to the forefront. If Chancellor Ford stands with the trans community on campus, she will act on this request personally. Not only will this show the administration’s solidarity with trans folk against Trump, but this will also create a safer campus and set an important precedent which may lead towards building trust between students and administration.

Ethan Costello is a senior majoring in communication, VP of No Victims Self Defense and Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society.

The Proletarian | Journalist killed by Saudis calls attention to genocide in Yemen

The war-for-profit is supported by U.S. and why you should care

ETHAN COSTELLO | coste012@rangers.uwp.edu

The U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia is one built on profit and a mutual goal of undermining the upward movement of working people internationally. The recent breaking news calls attention to the backwardness of U.S. politicians and corporations.

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Protesters demanding the status of Jamal Khashoggi after his disappearance and before news of his murder.                                        Courtesy: brewminate.com

Earlier this month, NPR broke the news that a Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was confirmed murdered by the Saudi government. Khashoggi has been a long time critic of the Saudi government, a monarchy-dictatorship. This sudden revelation has caused many proponents of Saudi Arabia to pull their investments and their support from the country in outrage at this atrocity. If only this reaction came sooner.

Khashoggi’s death is tragic. Let us understand this moment in history within the broader context of U.S.-Saudi relations. Vox reported that the Saudi Arabian government requested U.S. aid in 2015 for war efforts against ‘rebels’ in Yemen. These rebels are of a group known as the Houthis who have been historically oppressed by the Yemeni government.

Yet, it turned out that many of these targets had little to no military weight in the region and were near public buildings and residential areas. The Saudi government began their war in Yemen and—shocker—bombed neighborhoods, hospitals and schools. The United States initially abstained their support of the Saudis after the war began in Yemen, but soon offered aid to Saudi Arabia, allegedly to secure a deal with them against Iran. As a result, the war has killed thousands of civilians and decimated communities.

What does the war against Yemen by the Saudi Arabian government have to do with the death of Khashoggi? Khashoggi has been a long-time outspoken voice against the Saudis, specifically the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, because of their human rights violations and imperialist-like warmongering. Apparently, the Crown Prince did not like this very much, and silenced Khashoggi permanently.

So, we have genocide in Yemen by the Saudis. The United States is known to have supported this war with military aid. And yet, even after the death of Khashoggi, the U.S. government continues to support the monarchy in Saudi Arabia. Why? Pat Robertson, a prominent conservative, answers it quite plainly: money. Robertson claims that there is $100 million on the line. $100 million that none of the majority (the working people) in the States will never see. It is important to understand that war makes money, but not for me and you. The arms deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia have filled the coffers of the politicians and officials of weapons manufacturers. There is literal genocide happening in the twenty-first century in Yemen, and the response from heads of state is to shrug it off because they are not willing to lose their money and their dominance over the international working class. Let us show solidarity for the Houthi people in Yemen and make it known that we do not support their war of oppression. In solidarity.

Ethan Costello is a senior majoring in communication, VP of No Victims Self Defense and Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society.

The Proletarian | Education for all! Fight to end budget cuts!

ETHAN COSTELLO | coste012@rangers.uwp.edu

Last May I had the pleasure of attending a student-led action directly outside the state capitol building in Madison. The fight against the budget cuts slashing through our school system brought students, teachers, administrators and university faculty together, despite the overcast skies and down-pouring rain. In our rally outside the capitol, student speakers stood their ground and defended public education for all. Afterwards, we marched into the capitol building to deliver our letter of demands to Gov. Scott Walker’s office. It’s been about 4 months and it’s clear our letter has not been answered.

 

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Students from UW-Stout, Oshkosh, Parkside, Superior and others rallied outside the Capital building May 9, 2018. 

This rally came after a series of events happening within a short period of time: the proposal of the system-wide campus merger, the weak

ening of shared governance which gives certain rights to student and faculty governing bodies and the blatant dismissal of student government by the UW System President. This last part refers to sometime last year when student government associations across the state put in formal requests to give input in the merger process since the agenda would directly affect students. President Ray Cross had some different ideas about shared governance, taking the stance that it is not their place. In a private email correspondence reported on early last year, Cross seemed intent on ignoring students’ rights. Although students were eventually granted a seat at the decision making table, no direct voting rights were granted to the student representatives.

So, where does that leave us? And why are we here in the first place with these funding cuts? The Board of Regents, nearly all with ties to big money interests and all appointed by Gov. Walker, claim to be addressing decreased enrollment across the UW System. A lack of enrollment apparently does not make for a good investment.

I have yet to see a study on why students are not enrolling, and I’m sure there are a number of reasons(if you have data, please email me). One of them is the growing cost of living compounded with the unreasonably high cost of tuition. Working young folk seeking to go to college can’t afford both, often having to rely on federal financial aid. Even with aid, many students struggle. Education should be free for all seeking it. Maybe if our state would fund education—and everyone knows the money was there all along in the arrival of Foxconn—we’d see enrollments rise once again. But here we are, dealing with the consequences of Wisconsin’s ruling class’s mistake: decreased funding to public education, yet again.

Each student needs to decide for themselves if this is how we should allow ourselves to be treated. If the decision-makers at the top can’t decide to respect us with proper funding, maybe we should respect ourselves enough to do something, say something, about it.

Ethan Costello is a senior majoring in communication, VP of No Victims Self Defense and Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society.