Marquette Wire

MU’s recognition of Paul Ryan stirs criticism

House+Budget+Committee+Chairman+Rep.+Paul+Ryan+%28R-Wis.%29+presides+over+a+markup+session+where+House+Republicans+are+are+pressing+ahead+with+a+slashing+plan+to+try+to+balance+the+budget+within+10+years.+%28AP+Photo%2FJ.+Scott+Applewhite%29
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) presides over a markup session where House Republicans are are pressing ahead with a slashing plan to try to balance the budget within 10 years. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) presides over a markup session where House Republicans are are pressing ahead with a slashing plan to try to balance the budget within 10 years. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Photo by AP

Photo by AP

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) presides over a markup session where House Republicans are are pressing ahead with a slashing plan to try to balance the budget within 10 years. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) presides over a markup session where House Republicans are are pressing ahead with a slashing plan to try to balance the budget within 10 years. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) presides over a markup session where House Republicans are are pressing ahead with a slashing plan to try to balance the budget within 10 years. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Backlash arose late last week concerning Marquette’s presentation of the Les Aspin Public Service Award to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who recently proposed his budget for fiscal year 2015.

The Les Aspin Center for Government in Washington D.C. held a luncheon Friday to recognize Ryan’s contributions to the center and raise money from entrance tickets, priced at $150 per person, for Marquette’s Les Aspin program. Faithful America, an online community of Christians doing social justice work, saw the luncheon as an endorsement of Ryan.

Faithful America vocally expressed its views against Ryan’s proposed budget, which detractors criticize for proposing cuts to Pell Grants and student loans, among other programs.

The group posted a petition on its website in response to the luncheon, calling for Marquette to donate its ticket-sale money to the poor instead of accepting it.

“It’s one thing to recognize an elected official’s public service and invite him to speak,” the petition read, “but it’s quite another to trade on Paul Ryan’s popularity with the super-wealthy to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Zachary Henderson, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, is in the Washington D.C. Les Aspin program and attended last week’s luncheon.

“Most of the people at the luncheon were representing organizations that already donate a lot of money to colleges and universities,” Henderson said.

Other groups with positive relationships with the Les Aspin Center like Price-Waterhouse Cooper and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities also attended the luncheon.

“I can see where Faithful America’s frustrations lie in terms of their views against Ryan’s proposed budget, but the way (its petition) portrayed Marquette as holding a campaign or fundraiser for Ryan couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Henderson said. “Faithful America may have been trying to find a way to criticize Ryan’s budget and the Les Aspin luncheon fell in their lap.”

AJCU also expressed its opposition toward Ryan’s proposed budget in a letter the group sent him April 1 to state its concerns.

“Congressman Ryan wanted to take out funding from the mandatory side of government and pressure Pell Grants to only receive money from the discretional side of the budget,” said Cyndy Littlefield, AJCU vice president for federal relations. “What that means is an estimated $100 billion, over a period of 10 years, would occur to the Pell Grant program.”

Ryan’s budget also proposes students pay interest rates on their subsidized loans while they’re still in college, as well as denying Pell Grants to students from the higher end of lower class incomes such as $40,000. AJCU addressed those points in its letter.

Littlefield, however, said the letter and the Les Aspin luncheon are completely separate issues.

“It may appear that there is a difference of opinion on this front, but not so,” Littlefield said. “AJCU acknowledges our institution’s efforts to network with members of Congress and attending the luncheon was their effort to do so; they were only focusing on Ryan’s efforts with the Les Aspin Center.”

Andrew Brodzeller, associate director of university communication, said alumni, donors and supporters of the center were invited to the event with Ryan, by mail and email.

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