Campus News

BlackOut issues new demand to Board of Regents

BlackOut supporters and members silently protest Friday's Board of Regents meeting.

Image By: Robert Darlington

BlackOut protested the Board of Regents meeting in Madison Friday morning, restating their previous five demands and calling for a change to the weight of standardized testing in the application process at UW System schools.

Roughly 40 protesters dressed entirely in black filed quietly into Varsity Hall II at Union South about an hour into the meeting, and silently raised signs.

The leaders of the BlackOut movement handed their initial five demands to the Board of Regents during the Dec. 11 meeting, but were not given an opportunity to speak then.

UWPD officers did not allow members of BlackOut to hand in a list of demands to the Board of Regents at the Friday meeting, so the protesters stood and shouted their demands.

“This is the second meeting in a row that the Regents have denied us a space just to talk for five or 10 minutes,” said UW-Fond Du Lac student and Shared Governance Chair of the United Council Lamonte Moore.

“I think it shows a lack of cooperation and a lack of a willingness to get on board with multicultural issues on campus,” said UW-Madison senior Kenneth Cole.

The Board of Regents called a recess during the demonstration.

BlackOut “demanded that the Board of Regents and System Chancellor's acknowledge that the use of standardized testing impedes access for low-income and minority students while favoring students from affluent background,” according to a statement the group handed out.

“We’re at a very particular time in history where there is a lot of conversation around admissions and some of the systematic and institutional barriers that people face in admissions,” said UW-Madison sophomore Tyriek Mack, a leader of the BlackOut movement who read the new demand aloud to the Board of Regents.

BlackOut did not receive a response from the Board of Regents.

The protesters left without an incident and the Board of Regents continued by announcing the Regents Diversity Awards.

Mack said the demonstration went well.

“I think we got our message across about standardized testing and mental health,” he said. “I think what's going to happen in the future, are they going to follow through and answer our demands, is the question.”

After the first demonstration, BlackOut met privately with UW System President Ray Cross to address their concerns, which Moore said has not yet resulted in progress on their demands.

“They’re still being pretty stagnant. President Cross did sit down with us a couple of weeks ago but until we see the things he agreed to in that meeting, specifically organizing town halls with students of color and other faculty of color to talk about this issues and to start planning with the Chancellors and the Regents, that could be a first step,” Moore said.

BlackOut plans to announce their seventh and eighth demands at the March 10 Board of Regents meeting in Madison.

“We’re not digressing on the progress that we deserve as students of color,” Moore said.

Cross could not be reached for comment, but acknowledged during the meeting that while the UW System has begun to close the achievement gap between white students and students of color, more work needs to be done.

"The statement the president gave today summed up the good conversation that started and also the efforts that are underway and those efforts that are ahead too," said Alex Hummel, vice president for communications for the UW System.

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