The room’s too small to hold you, University of Wisconsin officials told about 60 protesters Friday morning outside a UW System Board of Regents meeting.

Then get a bigger room, the protesters replied.

“There will never be a bigger issue, and they have the meeting in this one small room,” said Maggie Merdler, a field representative with AFSCME.

The brief disagreement happened outside the meeting on the second floor of the Union South building in Madison. Once the 92-person seating capacity was reached, police denied further entry, redirecting people to a different room where the meeting was being broadcast live, said Alex Hummel, UW System spokesman.

Some of the protesters were already in the regents’ meeting room, Hummel said, before it filled to capacity.

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The protesters held signs criticizing Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal to cut $300 million in funding to the System in the next two years, coupled with a plan to split the System off from the state in certain ways, putting it under the governance of a public authority.

Merdler said a diverse mix of people, including representatives of the Teaching Assistants Association at UW-Madison, faculty, students and other labor groups, were there to show regents they disagree with the proposed cuts to the UW System.

Being sent to a different room wasn’t satisfactory, she said.

“We want them to see us,” she said of the regents.

Police were letting in people on a one-to-one basis as others left. They asked that everyone in the meeting room sit.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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