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The Badger Herald

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The Badger Herald


UW students protest, make demands for support in response to racist video

Protest organized by Blk Power Coalition marched on campus, delivered demands to Chancellor’s Office
Sophia Scolman

Hundreds of students marched to Bascom Hall Wednesday morning to protest and deliver demands related to the University of Wisconsin’s response to a racist video of a UW student.

At 9:00 a.m., students marched from the Multicultural Student Center and the Red Gym to gather inside Bascom Hall, where the Blk Power Coalition presented nine demands to the Chancellor’s Office to support students following the racism faced on campus.

The first demand was for the immediate investigation and expulsion of Audrey Godlewski, the UW student in the video who used racial slurs and expletives, and others who were seen or heard in the video. 


The Blk Power Coalition also demanded a public apology from UW officials to acknowledge the harm caused by continued racial bias on campus. They called for academic accommodations for students to reconcile with the emotional harm caused by threats to Black students, institutional racism and the emotional impacts from the video.

Additionally, students demanded increased funding for safe spaces for students of color who build a more inclusive campus community, including Registered Student Organizations that host events to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.

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The Blk Power Coalition asked the Chancellor’s Office to reevaluate the effectiveness of current diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives with the feedback of student organization leaders.

“[Hearing feedback from student leaders] helps to ensure these issues are sufficiently addressed and confirmation of these efforts to prevent others from arising,” a speaker at the protest said.

The group also requested the Chancellor’s Office propose and support bylaws to the UW Board of Regents to establish non-academic disciplinary procedures with a zero tolerance policy on hate speech that would result in expulsion for overt racial activity. 

Another demand was to create and implement new required programming for all students in order to prevent racial bias incidents, along with a racial program to complement GetWise programming for all students. 

The Blk Power Coalition also asked to expand University Health Services crisis lines to be a 24-hour resource for students to report racist incidents. Ideally, these reports would then lead to an investigation, the representative said.  

The final demand was to expand academic and mental health resources for students of color to help navigate the current racial climate, especially during finals and midterms. 

Dean of Students Christina Olstad, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor and Chief Diversity Officer LaVar Charleston made statements and heard students’ concerns during the protest inside Bascom Hall. A police officer was also present.

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Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin arrived at the protest at approximately 11:00 a.m. to speak to students and hear the Blk Power Coalition’s demands.

“You’ve given me these demands,” Mnookin said. “I hear your pain. Let me take these, let me read them carefully, let me think about what we can do as next steps and I will get back to you.”

In the past, UW has worked with students to meet demands. Following a 2019 video meant to connect campus featuring very few people of color, the Wisconsin Black Student Union presented the university with a list of demands.

UW then established the Student Inclusion Coalition. According to UW, the SIC worked with student leaders to publicly recognize systemic racism and oppression on campus for past students of color, acknowledge the educational value of marginalized student groups, improve support systems for marginalized students at UW and to create an infrastructure for responding to structural oppression.

A year after the video was released, the SIC included delegates from diverse student communities in the homecoming planning process, increased funding for the Multicultural Student Center, established the Office of Inclusion Education, made the Our Wisconsin program a requirement for all new students and planned the Divine Nine landmark, among other things.

The Blk Power Coalition’s demands stressed similar initiatives. Students at the protest said they expect a response to the demands from the chancellor by 9:00 a.m. Thursday. 

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In her statement, Mnookin continued to stress the legal constraints on her ability to speak and the actions she is able to take as chancellor.

“You probably don’t like that, but it is also the case,” Mnookin said.

Mnookin went on to acknowledge the value of diversity and the pain felt by the student community.

Before leaving, Mnookin told students they would hear from her regarding the BSU’s demands as soon as Thursday morning. 

Members of the protest then marched from Bascom Hall to Lake Street and down University Avenue. The protest ended in front of the Red Gym, which students earlier criticized for not providing enough space for Black students and other students of color. 

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