Despite a string of recent defeats, including the re-election of incumbent Republican Judge David Prosser and the failure of efforts to recall GOP state senators Glenn Grothman and Mary Lazich, the Wisconsin Left hasn’t given up the fight over Governor Scott Walker’s government employee union reforms, and they’re just as willing as ever to fight dirty.
WTMJ radio host Charlie Sykes has the audio and transcript of Stephen Richards, a tenured University of Wisconsin Oshkosh criminal justice professor, beginning his class with eight minutes of not only proselytizing against the reforms, but also bringing in student activists to collect signatures, during class, for the recall effort against GOP state Senator Randy Hopper (full disclosure: Hopper represents my district). Why?
And the reason you see this on campus a lot is that, um, the effect of the, of Walker’s budget on this university is number one, will be an eight percent pay cut for all faculty and staff, eight percent pay cut.
Um, there’ll be um, there’ll be a legal [inaudible] to be, belong to a union. [CF: The audio sounds to me like he’s saying, “it’ll be illegal for us to be, belong to a union.”] And you should know that, um all the faculty, janitors, maintenance people secretaries, they all belong to a union, they’re all in a union right now. So there union will be decertified.
Um, that um, and this affects teachers, professors, parole officers, corrections officers, and a lot of police and fire. Police and fire are not exempt from this.
Um, all public employees. So the uh, big salary cuts, uh is eight to ten percent of their wages are cut, um, not just one year but from here on out, um and, um um, they’ll make it so that we won’t be able to belong to unions.
What he means by pay cut is actually the modest reduction to benefits we’ve been over before. The claim that employees simply “won’t be able to belong to unions” is a bald-faced lie; the bill merely makes union contributions voluntary (leave it to leftists, though, to deem the coercive status quo as freedom and damn its reform as tyranny). Richards is also lying when he says police and fire unions aren’t exempted; in fact, seeing how that very point was used as an anti-Walker talking point, it’s hard to imagine he had any other intention but to deceive in saying otherwise.
In the clip, he also encourages a student who lives outside of Hopper’s district to sign anyway (don’t worry, he’s pretty sure the fine, upstanding citizens in charge “just won’t count” it if it’s invalid), and tells students to use their campus address rather than their parents’ when signing. And most disconcertingly, he says:
I think there’s about one hundred faculty that are doing this on this campus.
There’s also the question of how exactly a political dispute over government spending and union regulations pertains to a class about criminal justice. Oh, and did I mention that this criminal justice professor was a convicted drug dealer? On his RateMyProfessors.com profile and according to Sykes’ readers, the general consensus seems to be that Richards is an inattentive teacher who spends more time bloviating on his past and his pet causes than he does the class’s subject matter.
Richards has apologized for “not showing more restraint,” and UW Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells has released a statement condemning Richards’ behavior, claiming “agreed-upon corrective action” has been taken (though he won’t tell us what it is), and that feedback from Richards’ students has the administration satisfied that this “isolated incident” (no word on Richards’ claim of “about one hundred faculty” doing the same thing) is resolved and won’t happen again. Funny—that’s not what one of his students anonymously emailed to Sykes:
I’m sitting in Dr. (I use that term loosely) Richards’ class as I’m writing this. Just wanted to let you know that instead of apologizing for his actions and everything that has come out in the last couple days, he scolded us. He started by telling us that he has had a police escort all day due to death threats. He then proceeded to tell us that it is illegal to record a professor without his/her permission. He stated that “anyone has any smart phones or recording devices, to turn them off or leave.” He then proceeded to tell us that he could have charged those students with some sort of BS crime and had us arrested and kicked out of school. His rant has been going on for the better part of 20 minutes now and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down or stopping. Just like his political rants which take place multiple times per week, this is the kind of crap that disrupts our opportunity to learn at an institution of higher education.
So to recap, we have an ex-con with a tenured position poorly teaching criminal justice who uses class time to collect signatures to recall politicians he dislikes and takes it out on his students when he gets caught, and all superiors will do is slap him on the wrist while showing no interest in investigating his claim that many of his colleagues are doing the same thing. And the people of Wisconsin are paying for it all.
Disgraces like this, sadly, are nothing new in the academic world, and they aren’t going away until three things happen. First, many more parents need to pay much closer attention to the kind of education their kids are getting, and put pressure on those in charge to take serious corrective measures. Second, students need to ask themselves if these are the kind of schools they really want to support with their business (believe it or not, there are still places in America where a real education is possible). And third, conservatives in elected office must have the guts to give these institutions an ultimatum: take the public’s trust seriously, or lose taxpayer funding. There is no reason the American people should have to subsidize the rope used to hang them.