STEVENS POINT - Students, staff, and community members all worry that taking away humanities at UW Stevens Point will leave a gap in the lives of many. Last week the university announced a plan to eliminate 13 liberal arts majors from the school.
People shared their concerns at a listening session tonight with Stevens Point State Representative Katrina Shankland. And all speakers agreed, if the school eliminates these majors, it will have more than just a budget problem.
"I came to this school for the music program and after I realized that wasn't what I wanted to do, I stayed here for the humanities," said sociology major Sophie Walheim.
The university says these program cuts are the result of budget cuts not only to UWSP, but to the whole UW System.
Rep. Shankland (D - Stevens Point) came to USWP today to listen. But she also wants to build a plan to create change at the state level.
"It's important that we not only hear from you, but that we build support for a better budget in the future," said Rep. Shankland.
It's the fututre that the students at UWSP are worried about. Walheim is a sociology major who never thought such a traditional liberal arts program could be cut. Until it was.
"Now all I do is worry, I worry about how this affects my grad school prospects, I worry about my brothers who want to come here," said Walheim.
UWSP is the only four-year state university in North Central Wisconsin. For students who want to stay close to home or have limited budgets, it's the only option. The university will still offer classes in the humanities. But taking away the programs at UWSP takes away the option of majoring in them.
"I worry about the students like me coming from rural communities like me who couldn't afford Madison or other large UW schools, thus deepening cultural and income divides in this county," said Walheim.
And that sense of division is something some students already feel. But it's a divide between students and the Chancellor of the university.
"I was reading Bernie [Patterson]'s column in the [Stevens] Point Journal today about how the liberal arts are still valued here, but when cutting the humanities is even a topic of conversation here how can you say that," said Walheim.
Rep. Shankland also invited people to come to her open office hours if they did not get a chance to express their opinions.