Wisconsin State Journal
Last Thursday, November 12, thousands of students across the country took part in demonstrations at college campuses to shine a light on what they say are racial problems at their own schools.
Hundreds of people, mostly UW-Madison students, gathered in front of Bascom Hall Thursday night surrounding the statue of Abraham Lincoln in solidarity with their peers at the University of Missouri.
After listening to speeches, they marched to Library Mall chanting what has become a common refrain at rallies locally and around the country: “Black lives matter!” and “No justice, no peace!” The group reconvened for more speeches before marching up State Street to the Capitol Square.
Greg Mosby, 28, a black UW graduate student in the astronomy department, did his undergraduate degree at Yale, which like Missouri has seen students of color speaking out about racism on campus. Mosby said he has been a part of the movement at Yale – “at least digitally.” “It seems like nationwide there’s momentum that’s building to make institutions more socially just and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said. Mosby said he has not encountered racism in his department. “But I am a lucky example,” he said. “I hear stories from graduate students and undergraduates that would make you shudder.”
Miona Short, 20, a black UW-Madison junior, said she experiences discrimination all the time, and had as recently as the day before. “America is a racist place and I think oftentimes – especially in the Midwest – we try to dismiss racism as something in the South because when people think of racism they think of Texas or they think of klans.”
From Boston College to campuses at the University of California, dozens of schools saw walkouts and rallies.
While the protests that toppled the Missouri president were triggered in large part by complaints about slurs and other overt racism on campus, some students at Thursday’s rallies said it’s a subtler brand of prejudice that motivated them to take a stand. Many said they face daily instances of casual racism and insensitivity. There’s even a word on campuses these days for subtle slights against minorities: microaggression. “It’s more the daily microaggressions than the large situations,” said Akosua Opokua-Achampong, a sophomore at Boston College. “Those also hurt.”
Stories of discrimination aren’t new, students said. But many said the revolt at Missouri has driven them to talk about it and confront it.
In recent days and weeks, students at some colleges have presented administrators with their own demands, inspired by those of the protesters at Missouri. Often, the demands call for greater diversity on the faculty, more spending on scholarships for minorities, more instruction on tolerance and sensitivity, and more resources such as cultural centers. “You can’t just bring students in; you’ve got to have faculty and staff members in key positions and you’ve got to be current,” said Roger Pulliam, senior faculty adviser of the National Black Student Union, based in Whitewater.
Following is a letter of support to Missouri Students:
Associated Students of Madison
333 East Campus Mall, Student Activity Center Rm 4301 Madison, WI 53715
Phone: 608/265-4ASM Fax: 608/265-5637 E-mail: email@example.com
http://www.asm.wisc.edu facebook.com/ASMStudentGov Twitter: @asmstudentgovt
November 13th, 2015
Dear Missouri Student Association,
The Associated Students of Madison stands in solidarity with the Missouri Student Association,
specifically the black student body, against the racial discrimination and racist hate crimes that
have garnered national attention over the past week.
We commend your strength and unity in systematically changing your institution and demanding
solutions to a failed system. Your organization and the students of Mizzou have shown that the
student voice is powerful and influential. There is no limit to what students can achieve by
coming together as one.
At the University of WisconsinMadison black students face similar barriers to an equitable
education, and we must fight back. As another predominantly white institution, UWMadison
often neglects to acknowledge and act on the negative experiences of students of color on our
campus. Students have the power to change this reality.
Over one thousand students at UWMadison stood in solidarity with the black students of
Mizzou in a Black Out March last night. It was a powerful symbol of what our campus can
accomplish when we unite. Moving forward, we will continue to protest and stand together until
all students can learn, live, and work in a safe environment. You all have shown us first hand
that institutional change can come from the movement of students.
Madison Laning, Chair
Kyla Kaplan, Vice Chair
Angelito Tenorio, University Affairs Chair
Associated Students of Madison