The Associated Students of Madison student council took a vote of no confidence in the University of Wisconsin Police Department and voted to support the UW BIPOC Coalition at Tuesday’s Zoom meeting.
ASM voted no confidence in UWPD to show their “lack of trust” in UWPD and their frustration with the force’s failure to comply with Campaign Zero’s Eight Can’t Wait benchmarks.
Many UW students showed up to the meeting to share their opinion on the vote — students spoke at an open forum for over over an hour.
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Tarah Stangler spoke in favor of the vote as a member of the BIPOC Coalition. Stangler said UWPD’s presence at protests in May and June contributed to her support of the vote.
“A vote of no confidence is the only viable way to force them to begin to make change,” Stangler said. “We cannot afford to wait for something to happen that forces people to acknowledge that there needs to be change. Does somebody need to die before that happens? Because that is what we are seeing all across the country.”
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Rep. Samuel Jorudd said the point of the vote is not to defund or abolish UWPD, but to show UW that students want reform. Jorudd said some members of ASM have met with UWPD twice to discuss reforms and requests.
Rep. Keely Collins spoke in opposition to the vote at the meeting, saying UWPD keeps campus safe.
“UWPD exists to protect law abiding citizens,” Collins said. “The protests that occurred on state street in May and June were violent threats to our campus … I ask my fellow representatives to consider the opinions of all students and acknowledge that this vote is not a compromise.”
ASM voted not to allow UWPD Chief Kristen Roman to speak during their debate period and Roman did not speak during the open forum. ASM approved the vote of no confidence with a vote of 9-5-9 after debate.
Roman released a statement following the vote.
“I am disappointed. Not in the questions themselves, or the specific requests for change, but for not being given the opportunity to engage in a full process prior to this vote,” Roman said. “A process in which we work together in constructive and meaningful ways.”
ASM also voted unanimously to support the UW BIPOC Coalition. This legislation was previously proposed but was reintroduced with amendments. From the original legislation, Rep. Crystal Zhao said ASM removed the statement expressing direct support for all of the BIPOC Coalition’s demands of UW. Instead the legislation now states that ASM recognizes and supports the work of the BIPOC Coalition.
“By saying ‘supports the work BIPOC Coalition is doing’ we hope to recognize that they have been making a lot of efforts to support BIPOC students on campus,” Zhao said. “A lot of their demands could be a guideline for future BIPOC structures on campus.”
ASM will meet again Tuesday Oct. 13 on Zoom at 7:00 p.m.