Walkout plans get attention

Nicholas Ebelhack

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 Talks of the planned April 19th walkout has caused many people across campus to voice their concerns, both with the state government and with the event organizers themselves.

 Interdisciplinary Studies major Ryan Mills, one of the event organizers, explained how plans for a walkout started.

 “This whole thing started as a small student project,” Mills said. “We are in a sociology class that focuses on studying social movements and crowd behavior. We were tasked to come up with a movement independently, no matter how big or small.”

 For the assignment, Mills and his classmates wanted to try something new, and thought that a walkout would be a good way to do it.

 “We thought it would be an interesting take on student advocacy since this hasn’t been tried recently,” Mills said.

 He said that the purpose of the event is to bring awareness to the staff of the university, and that the walk-out shows the state what students think about the 10 month budget standoff.

 “We want to give staff and students a chance to voice their thoughts on a safe platform,” Mills said. “We also hope that this will bring about a ripple effect and encourage others to support the staff by similar or better means.”

 However, their plan hasn’t come without opposition. The event’s Facebook page has had multiple students who are against the walkout post why they disagree with the event’s purpose. Mills said that he believes students are confused.

“Most of it stems from the confusion of the name of the event itself, because in hindsight, we could have named it something better, something more appealing,” Mills said. “Most of those who oppose are taking it for face value and judging it with predetermined opinions without asking questions.”

According to Mills’ experience, people tend to reject events similar to the walkout quickly.

“From what I have seen in the past, most events like this, favorable or not, tend to receive a lot of backlash initially because it goes against the status quo,” Mills said. “We’re hoping it can expand and grow in the future with persistence and
open minds.”

One of the most vocal opponents of the bill has been Student Government Association President Wil Gradle. Gradle argues that walking out of class in response to the budget impasse demonstrates to lawmakers that students don’t see higher education as the priority it should be.

“I applaud the organizing group for trying to make a difference, but I think that a class walkout is the wrong symbol to use,” Gradle said. “There are better alternatives.”

Mills said that that even though he doesn’t expect a huge turnout for the event, he understands that it is a start.

“I try to encourage students to participate because everything we are doing this for affects them as well, not just the staff,” Mills said, “and I would hope most of them are aware of that fact,” It is important to stand up for what is morally right and not just what they are told is right.”

He also mentioned that he was glad to see the faculty and staff support that the event has received. According to Mills, the university employees that have been in contact with him and his classmates have been assuring.

“They have helped us by sending mass emails, assisting with resource management, and speaking with other staff members to try to encourage them to support us as well,” Mills said.

Mills said that although the project is for a class, he still wants to see people continue to defy forces that are putting them down.

“Keeping your head down and doing nothing will never bring about change,” Mills said. “Judging and insulting someone’s way of protest without speaking with them is
also counterproductive.”