Chancellor Blank, Dean Olstad, and Mick Miyamoto,
We are a group of student activists working in solidarity to uplift the voices and demands of the Madison community. We are contacting you to address your preemptive response regarding the protest this past Friday, August 28, 2020. We understand the sentiment behind your previous email regarding the right to protest and student safety; however, the words of solidarity fell short. You are not doing enough to ensure that BIPOC students feel seen, heard, protected and respected on campus. You are failing your students.
Protests without immediate, direct action by those with the power to make change negates any kind words of support—we implore you to do more than performative actions of solidarity. The Wisconsin Black Student Union, Link-Madison, Teaching Assistants’ Association, Sunrise Movement-Madison, Black Umbrella Global, Impact Demand, and UW students have worked on compiling demands that will collectively improve the experience of BIPOC community members. Attached to this email are a list of these demands that are specifically targeted at changes the University must make.
The motto of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is to move “together forward”. The University cannot and will not fulfill this promise if it continues to sustain an environment in which BIPOC students feel as though they are nothing more than photo opportunities for a university that refuses to do the bare minimum to ensure they are welcomed, respected, and included while on campus. If you continue to ignore us, to tell us you simply do not have the time or funds to meet our demands, you are failing your own mission and should instead change your motto to “Divided Stagnation”. To truly move “together forward”, the University of Wisconsin-Madison must address and combat its hypocritical, performative nature as well as the systemic racism the University continuously perpetuates.
Chancellor Blank, Dean Olstad, and Mick Miyamoto- you, as university officials, are in the unique position to spearhead real change. Our demands outline the ways you can make the University of Wisconsin-Madison a better place for students of color. If the University truly wishes to demonstrate unadulterated commitment to students—specifically marginalized the groups of minority students you have continuously failed for decades—you must take direct action to address said demands beyond one-time meetings with empty words and false promises. The University of Wisconsin system looks to you for guidance, set an example, and do better.
It is your duty to show your commitment. Listen to members of your community. Take Direct Action.
BIPOC Demands for the University of Wisconsin-Madison
The demands stated below are a compilation of the work of various groups located within the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well the greater Madison community.
1.) Remove the Abraham Lincoln monument located at the top of Bascom Hill and replace it with someone who stands for the justice of all people.
2.) Remove the Chamberlain Rock, formally known as “N*ggerhead Rock”, located on Observatory drive.
3.) Enact a “Moral Restart”— not a “Smart Restart”. (https://taa-madison.org/safe-restart-for-fall-2020/
4.) Defund and subsequently abolish the University of Wisconsin Police Department.
5.) Reopen discussion on how the University can meet the 1969 / 2020 demands with student groups such as the Student Inclusion Coalition and the Wisconsin Black Student Union.
6.) Recognize the educational value of marginalized identity-based student affinity groups.
7.) Implement a permanent funding structure for the student organizations that primarily serve and include predominantly marginalized groups, with funding allocated through the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs or Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion.
8.) Improve the support system for marginalized students on campus.
9.) Create a coordinated infrastructure to respond to acts of structural oppression.
10.) Further action from Chancellor Rebecca Blank regarding the meetings between leaders and the general body of the Wisconsin Black Student Union regarding their experiences and recommendations in making this a truly diverse and inclusive campus.