Dozens of students and community members gathered at the Board of Regents meeting Friday morning to declare their demands to make the University of Wisconsin System better for students of color.
Participants in the event wore all black and held signs to represent the discrimination they experience in classrooms and through university policies.
Lamonte Moore, shared governance chair for the United Council of UW Students, said the organization wanted to make their presence and their demands known at the meeting.
“I think our presence here today will spark those dialogues to create solutions on how to stop the harm a lot of students of color are experiencing,” Lamonte said. “I think we, as students of color, know that we deserve better. It’s time to take action to that, and to really hold the folks who are accountable — the Regents, the UW System administration and the chancellors — to create real time solutions for students of color.”
During the meeting, demonstrators distributed copies of their demands titled The Urgent Demands of UW’s Black Students and of Students of Color to Regents and those present at the meeting. Included in these demands was a request to the UW System to institute a mandatory, comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum to be overseen by a board comprised of colored students, staff and faculty.
Demonstrators also highlighted their request for the creation of a system-wide task force to assess the experiences of students of color on each campus.
— Teymour Tomsyck (@Teymoreorless) December 11, 2015
Demonstrators sought to show their dedication to the cause, said Tyriek Mack, founder of the student group All Minds Matter, said.
“I hope to show the Board of Regents and all the participants in the meeting that students of color are serious about the demands we are requesting, and that we’re willing to do whatever it takes to see that happen,” Mack said.
This demonstration partially stemmed from recent incidents at Mizzou, as well as racist acts at UW-Stout. Mack said he believes these “Black Outs” will be ongoing until students of color see changes in policy and attitudes. Other students on campus can support their cause and initiate this change by calling out racist language and acts, Mack said.
Nneka Akubeze, executive director for United Council of UW Students agreed that students need to hold each other to higher standards and put a stop to racist acts and micro-aggressions. Discrimination in the UW System infringes on the rights of students, and oppresses learning, Akubeze said.
“I don’t think that limiting micro aggressions is somehow limiting free speech or limiting your opportunity to have a voice and have an equitable education,” Akubeze said. “I think people should enjoy a standard that could be created if there are no micro-aggressions. That’s the ultimate goal.”