University of Wisconsin-Madison students protested outside of the University Housing office at Slichter Residence Hall in response to the removal of a Multicultural Learning Community house fellow after complaints that white students felt unwelcomed Monday afternoon.
Chuefeng Yang was asked to move out of the MLC two days before Thanksgiving and return their key. Students in the MLC staged the protest with the support of the Student Inclusion Coalition founded on campus this year.
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Protestors had four main demands:
- Acknowledge that Chuefeng Yang had to work 20+ hours a week due to the MLC’s lack of coordinator.
- Backpay Chuefeng Yang for the extra hours they worked and kept track of.
- A formal apology to the residents of MLC and others affected for prioritizing white feelings over POC safety.
- For UW to delegate more resources to MLC to support students of color.
Lisa Yang, one of the organizers, opened the protest by welcoming students who came to voice their opinions and show support for Chuefeng Yang and the students in the MLC. The protest began with chants, including calls to be treated fairly by UW, justice for Chuefeng Yang and demands for changes in the MLC and UW Housing.
Several students, including Juliet Chang, gave testimonials about how Chuefeng Yang and the MLC provided students of color a safe place on campus. Many students mentioned incidents of vandalism that had occurred in the MLC perpetrated by non-residents.
“UW-Madison does not want me, or other students of color, to feel like our bodies or our feelings matter,” Chang said. “[We are] tokenized to sell diversity, but we have taken and made the MLC our home. That is the legacy and hard work of people of color like Chuefeng.”
Other students spoke about the lack of support for not only residents in the MLC, but the overall lack of support for students of color on campus. Lisa Yang, and other speakers, said students of color are tired of the discriminatory acts taking place on campus. They said they will continue to fight until changes are made.
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After hearing from speakers, the students marched into the UW Housing office and read their demands to UW Director of Housing Operations Jeff Novak. Novak thanked the protesters for coming out and said UW Housing would be in touch to review the demands.
Lisa Yang said the protest’s goal was to obtain justice for Chuefeng Yang and create a better environment for marginalized groups on campus. Lisa Yang said this incident has given students a chance to hold UW accountable.
“We have been talking about these changes for months now and meeting up with people,” Lisa Yang said. “This has been a really good moment for us to hold them accountable for what they say they are going to do for us.”