from the La Crosse Tribune, La Crosse, WI

March 10, 2005

UW-L students hope hunger strike sends signal to lawmakers

By KATE SCHOTT of the La Crosse Tribune

Ben Greuel didn't eat during his lunch hour Wednesday.

Instead, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse senior stood in the middle of campus, wearing a sign that stated, "Hunger Strike 4 Tuition Freeze."

Greuel is among 16 UW-L students taking part in a three-day hunger strike this week to protest proposed tuition increases for the next two years. Gov. Jim Doyle has recommended increasing tuition between 5 and 7 percent each year of the 2005-07 biennium.

"We keep hearing, ėThis is the last time, this is the last time,'" Greuel said. "It's going too far."

UW-L Progressives member Ryan Schryver said their organization is following the lead of students at UW-Madison and UW-Eau Claire, where groups of students have not eaten since Tuesday. The Madison and Eau Claire strike is set to end at 10 a.m. today; the La Crosse version will end Friday.

"We found that students really needed someone to stand up and support them," Schryver said. "The Legislature hasn't really responded to any of the demands we've made thus far. We think something a

little more extreme might be needed to get their attention."

Schryver said students shouldered a 37 percent tuition increase, or up to $500 more per semester, during the last biennium. Under Doyle's plan, Schryver said tuition would increase about $250 a semester for the next two years.

"I don't come for a rich background," Progressives member Jeremy Jensen said. "Tuition raises are coming out of my pocket. We believe education isn't a privilege but should be a right."

The UW-L Progressives have set up a table and chairs under the Hoeschler Tower in the middle of campus, and are encouraging students to sign a petition that will be sent to lawmakers. More than 400 students had signed it by 12:30 p.m. Strikers have vowed to only drink water and juice and take vitamins until Friday.

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