Budget Proposal Could Impact Sustainability

The biennial budget proposed by Gov. Scott Walker, a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, would likely impact sustainability at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point and throughout the city.

Proposed cuts to the UW System would result in a $6.4 million loss for UWSP and an additional $1.4 million cut from specified programs.

A reduction this large would force programs to rein in their resources, but details are speculative, said Brian Sloss, associate dean for outreach, extension and extramural grants.

“The cuts are going to hurt a lot of programs that are crucial to the sustainability of our campus, community and students,” said Dave Barbier, sustainability coordinator for the Office of Sustainability.

The office could be looking at a 50 percent reduction in its operating budget, aside from salaries for full-time employees and fixed costs. Barbier said this would result in a 100 percent reduction in funding for student employees.

Erin Schotte, student sustainability special projects coordinator, presents ideas that improve sustainability on campus to those involved for implementation.

Decreased employment would make project development difficult, Schotte said.

The events coordinator for the office, Heather  Zarzecki, is also a student employee. She organizes events like National Campus Sustainability Day and a themed film series (this year was “Water”).

Photo courtesy of farmshed.com

Photo courtesy of farmshed.com

“Losing these events would greatly impact the campus and community,” Zarzecki said. “We are a new office to the university, but with these events, people are becoming more knowledgeable and want to become more involved.”

Proposed cuts would also impact Farmshed, a non-profit organization that promotes food sustainability throughout the community. Grants from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board would be lost, said Layne Cozzolino, Farmshed executive director.

Last year, Farmshed used this grant of $9,360 to help fund local food fundraisers in nine schools, raising $48,000. Thirty-two thousand dollars was given to local farmers involved and $16,000 was given to the contributing schools, Cozzolino said.

If the budget goes as planned, professors may not have as much time to interact with students. Farmshed is aware of this and is always willing to give hands-on experience to students, Cozzolino said.

Some hope that despite cuts, UWSP will maintain productivity.

“Right now, it is about being patient and prepared,” Sloss said.

Student Government Association representatives emphasized in the forums that budget proposal still requires a majority vote from legislative officials, and those in favor or opposition have time to contact local representatives.

For updates on budget proposal information, visit www.uwsp.edu/chancellor/Pages/budget.aspx.


Nicolette Ratz



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