Controversy continues to ripple through the University of Wisconsin campus as demands for the removal of the Lincoln statue were met with a petition to save the statue this week.
Teaching Assistants’ Association member and Kentuckian John Walker delivered a speech at a “Listen Up, Bucky!” event Oct. 9. In his speech posted by UW-Madison BIPOC Coalition on Twitter today, Walker said that the statue’s removal is not only about Lincoln.
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“This [Lincoln] statue carries its own stains of history,” Walker said in his speech. “From its origins in my home state all the way to this University’s legacy on race and land appropriation.”
Walker’s reference to land appropriation is aimed at the university land the statue is perched on, which is the ancestral home of the Ho-Chunk people.
According to a tweet by UW-Madison BIPOC Coalition on Tuesday, UW Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Lori Reesor once referred to the ancestral Ho-Chunk as a “gift” given to UW.
Leave it to UW admin to "acknowledge" how the land we're was on was stolen from the Ho Chunk people & then refer to its continued existence on said land as a "gift" the Ho Chunk have given us in the same breathe.
Why not give them a gift in return & remove the Lincoln statue? https://t.co/62xIaBEJcI
— UW Madison BIPOC Coalition (@UWBIPOCCo) October 13, 2020
“Leave it to UW admin to ‘acknowledge’ how the land we’re was on was stolen from the Ho Chunk people & then refer to its continued existence on said land as a ‘gift’ the Ho Chunk have given us in the same breathe,” the tweet said.
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The tweet concluded by suggesting the University should remove the Lincoln statue as a gift in return to the Ho-Chunk people. Reesor has since deleted her tweet.
As the calls to take down the Lincoln statue persist, the College Republicans of UW-Madison issued a statement earlier this week that called for support of their petitions to save the statue and UWPD.
Help us save the UWPD and Honest Abe!
— GOP Badgers (@GOPBadgers) October 13, 2020
According to the official statement, the petitions were launched in response to ASM Chairman Matthew Mitnick’s letter calling for the termination of UWPD as well as the removal of the Lincoln statue on campus.
In an email statement to The Badger Herald, Wisconsin Federation of College Republicans Chair Evan Karabas explained his view on why the statue should continue to sit on top of Bascom Hill.
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“The statue has been a cherished symbol on campus for generations and has served as one of our great campus symbols that unites the student body,” Karabas said. “Many would agree that the most significant part of President Lincoln’s legacy was securing freedom for the slaves, and we should celebrate that as a proud moment in our country’s history.”
Karabas said he feels that ASM does not represent his and other students’ views on these issues.
In an email statement to The Badger Herald, UW Director of News and Media Relations Meredith McGlone reiterated Chancellor Rebecca Blank’s previous statements that Abraham Lincoln’s legacy should “not be erased but examined.”
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McGlone confirmed in the statement that Blank’s stance on the issue has not changed. McGlone said the administration is still open to discussion with students.
“Campus leaders remain open to continued discussions about Abraham Lincoln and the appropriate ways to acknowledge his complex legacy,” McGlone said.