(from left) Katie Lindow and Megan McGarvey
Photo by Jean Germano

“Outsourced: The New Wisconsin Idea,” is a production focused on events that transpired at the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus during 2017. It had its first screening on campus Nov. 14, 2019 in Swenson’s Erlenbach Lecture Hall. “Outsourced” made use of the combination of contemporary footage of that fall’s events and interviews with faculty and students who participated in the consequent forums and protests. The screening gave students a chance to see the documentary’s 40-minute exploration of contentious program cuts made in the fall of 2017.

In its 40-minute airtime, the film makes use of extensive footage from the public forums held by the UWS administration in the Yellowjacket Union. This, along with footage of the ensuing student led protests provides, was the bulk of the film’s visuals. Commentary is provided throughout by UWS faculty, recent alumni, and audio recordings by the film-makers.

“Outsourced” highlights concern about the process that was used to select the academic programs that were cut and the alleged lack of transparency by UWS administration of that time. It also expresses skepticism about a 7-year contract outsourcing the school’s online education program to Academic Partnerships. The company partners with universities and helps expand their online learning influence through the online delivery of instruction.

In the question and answer session that followed the screening, Producer Katie Lindow and Director Megan McGarvey brought up how happy they were to be back at UWS, as both are alumnas. Echoing previous statements made to local media, they both said the documentary is not intended as a “hit piece” against an institution that, “feels like home.” McGarvey said, “We really wanted to preserve and create a time capsule for that moment in time; these were the people that were impacted, these were the signs that were there. We wanted to make sure that no one forgot.”

Fielding a question about how the cuts related to system wide budget reductions by Scott Walker’s administration, Lindow said, “…his legacy is basically that he was on a warpath against education.” Lindow added that the UWS cuts and the wider cuts to the rest of the UW-System were closely tied.

Currently the film is being actively screened at film festivals and events in the region. A trailer is available on the documentary’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/OutsourcedWI/.