The Associated Students of Madison proposed legislation Wednesday that would replace a prominent Black Lives Matter sign taken down from the ASM office during a cleaning at the end of the 24th session.
As part of the legislation, the new sign, and any materials put up thereafter, would be a decision that the entire student council would make.
The legislation, which will be voted on at the next Student Council, was proposed by Representatives Paul Jackson, Agalia Ardyasa and Jared Lang. The legislation would also make the message of BLM “a priority during this session through various campaigns, outreach and representation.”
“For me personally, if [the sign] ever had to be taken down, it would have to be through a vote of the student council,” Ardyasa said. “It should be a vote of you all and a representation of the whole school community.”
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Originally put up two years ago during ASM’s 23rd session by former Chair Carmen Goséy and former Vice Chair Mariam Coker, the sign was removed at the end of the last session during a cleaning of the windows.
According to Chair Billy Welsh the sign, which was handmade, had lost most of its letters and now merely read “black.” He said the moment was a good opportunity to reassess the sign.
“Now I think we’re taking another look at it and trying to get more voices and opinions into [the conversation] and setting up a procedure so when future chairs, vice chairs and student councils set their session, they aren’t confused to see one word out of a phrase and they’re not really sure what to do,” Welsh said.
There was no debate when the sign was originally put up in the office, Jackson said.
But the decision to take the sign down the sign during cleaning without debate or argument sounded suspicious to him, Jackson said.
“That’s my only concern about the issue of up or down,” Jackson said. “I just feel like it’s [about] respect for those who came before who had that sign up.”
There was slight debate tonight, however. Charlie Mueth, the chair of College Republicans, spoke during an open forum before the legislation was introduced by ASM.
Mueth said that he was concerned that putting up the sign would show that ASM supported one interest group over others. He also said putting up a BLM sign would politicize ASM, and he questioned what value putting up the sign would have other than showing that ASM believed black students are welcome on campus.
“I don’t think that many people here would say that black students aren’t welcome on campus,” Mueth said. “I think that everyone can agree that students are pretty welcome wherever they come from and whatever their background is.”
After the meeting Jackson said he refuted Mueth’s statement that students of color are equally welcome, pointing to the campus climate survey that showed that students of color have a less positive experience at the University of Wisconsin than do white students.
This legislation, along with the along with the “Ice Cream For All” legislation that was proposed in the previous Student Council meeting, will be voted on in two weeks.
The ice cream for all proposal was postponed because one of the sponsors observing Yom Kippur.
ASM also voted on the Nominations Board Standing Rules and the Nominations Board Appointments. Some concern was raised when it was recognized that members of the board who were required to recuse themselves from the discussion if they had a personal relationship with the nominee were not required to recuse themselves from the vote.
Nominations Board Chair Adam Fearing said he made the decision because of the small size of the board. He said if multiple members knew a nominee on a personal level and had to recuse themselves, the decision could potentially be made by only one or two people.
Vice Chair Yogev Ben-Yitschak said that by not recusing themselves, members could end up favoring a candidate that they knew personally, discouraging new members from joining ASM.
Ben-Yitschak proposed the amendment, which passed with only one vote opposed and one abstaining vote.