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Campus community reaches out for support

Faculty, staff and students at the University of Wisconsin-Superior are taking their fight against plans to suspend 25 academic programs to the city.

About a dozen people turned out at City Hall on Tuesday night to address the Council about the impact reducing campus opportunities could have on the city.

Soon, they'll share the potential impact with local businesses.

Faculty, staff and students are being encouraged to provide business owners with information on their spending habits with various businesses and encouraging the owners to contact the Chamber of Superior-Douglas County, Superior Business Improvement District and the chancellor to share their concerns about the loss of business as opportunities shrink at the university, according to an email circulated Wednesday.

"I'm here not only because I'm concerned about my education, but I am concerned about the community of UW-Superior and the community of Superior itself," said student Amber Norris of Duluth, addressing the Council. She said if people lose their opportunities, they may go somewhere else and wouldn't be contributing to Superior.

"I'd like to urge the Council to draft a resolution to support the students and faculty in response to the unilateral suspension of nine majors, 15 minors and one master's program and the placing of 15 other programs on suspension warning by UWS administration and UW System administration in Madison on Oct. 30 ... gutting Superior's liberal arts university," said Cyrus Pireh of Superior, who moved here with his partner, Dr. Meghan Krausch, an associate professor of sociology — one of the suspended majors. He said while they are invested in the community, their future in Superior is uncertain if the cuts stand.

He said the cuts would be devastating for Superior when there is an exodus of students and facility from the community.

"That means a less vibrant community with few opportunities for hometown youth to pursue their goals," Pireh said. He urged the Council to act soon.

Even before the public addressed the Council, the governing body for the City of Superior discussed the issue.

Councilor Jenny Van Sickle said she was shocked when she heard of the program cuts.

"I honestly implore our community leaders, our voters and decision-makers to support our university dedicated to liberal arts, and support our faculty and students and staff, and to continue putting pressure on the university's administration," Van Sickle said. "I think our future, higher education and economy are too important to be silent on this matter."

Van Sickle made a motion to refer a resolution to the Council at its Dec. 19 meeting for consideration.

Councilor Warren Bender said County Board Supervisor Dave Conley contacted him about writing a resolution, and the two shared ideas. He said the draft should be presentable by the next meeting.

The Council approved the referral.

"I remind the Council, if possible, please bring language as early as possible to make it public," Mayor Jim Paine said.