Opinion

Reflecting on a historic semester in Madison

As the fall semester comes to an end, The Daily Cardinal Editorial Board weighs in on the past few months with a series of short recaps.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

Alicia Shoberg | The Daily Cardinal

ASM delivers early voting to students

Leading up to November’s general election, Associated Students of Madison prioritized voting accessibility on campus. Their efforts were fruitful and noticed.

Making sure students were registered was crucial, as many UW-Madison students moved this year and had to re-register at their new address. Every member of ASM’s Student Council was trained to register students, which garnered approximately 3,400 student voter registrations, according to ASM Vote Coordinator Billy Welsh.

In Wisconsin, a photo voter ID is required at polling places. For those who do not have a Wisconsin driver’s license or government ID, an additional form of photo ID is required. This requirement is not met by student ID cards, so many nonresident students were tasked with acquiring separate voter IDs. ASM made a concerted effort to set up voter ID machines at every polling place on campus to aid students in their preparation.

Furthermore, ASM successfully lobbied to provide not one but two early voting places on campus. Early voting returns from Union South and the Student Activity Center on East Campus Mall showed that about 4,000 early ballots were cast at each location.

Students are generally a demographic whose voter turnout is low. UW-Madison’s ASM served its student body well, while substantially increasing student voting accessibility.

Campus community responds to results of presidential election

The election of Donald Trump brought a justifiable fervor of fear to our campus. The number of bias incidents on campus spiked in the week following the election alone. But something else was present: powerful acts of student solidarity and activism in the face of hate.

The night following the election, the streets rang with voices of students protesting against sexual assault and rape culture present in our school, our nation and now embodied by the words and actions of the president-elect.

The next night, over 2,000 students, faculty and community members marched to the Capitol with their voices at full volume. Upon arrival, they laid down on the lawn for a “die-in” in solidarity with historically marginalized groups who now have to stare hate in the face as it’s sworn into the White House.

Additionally, the Muslim Student Association moved up Islam Appreciation Week to help educate our campus about Islamic culture in the dark shadow of an Islamophobe as our nation’s future head.

The election results are terrifying. Our racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic country and campus are terrifying. But the unwavering voices of many UW-Madison students speaking out for themselves, their identities, their communities or in solidarity with their fellow human beings is an invigorating reminder of the vigilance and importance of our voices. 

Sexual assault remains serious issue on campus

Alec Cook and Alec Shiva. Both arrested for second-degree sexual assault. Both facing charges of battery, strangulation and false imprisonment. Both students at UW-Madison. Their cases are not identical, but the similarities are striking.

Multiple survivors will continue to be impacted by the actions of Cook and Shiva for the rest of their lives. We can only hope that their arrests and subsequent hearings can provide some sense of justice.

Beyond hoping, we can do better as a campus community to increase awareness of the importance of consent, and not be silent bystanders. We can do better, and the university can do better, to make mechanisms for reporting sexual violence clear.

The Association of American Universities Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct in 2015 tried to quantify the number of sexual assaults that go unreported, estimating only 28 percent or less are reported. This means that the students who will report sexual assault during their time at UW-Madison could be only about a quarter of those who experience sexual assault on this campus.

The only, albeit small, upside of the high-profile arrests of Cook and Shiva this semester is that they may inspire more survivors to come forward. Following Cook’s initial arrest, a second survivor came forward, stating she “was empowered by another girl being able to tell what happened to her, that I thought I could now finally tell.”

Survivors: We hear you, we are here for you.

Katie Scheidt | The Daily Cardinal

Wisconsin athletes voice opinions on controversial local, national topics

Political issues have dominated conversation throughout campus this year. UW-Madison student-athletes have also gotten involved, using their platform to advocate for their own views.

Members of the men’s basketball team in particular have been outspoken and proactive. Nigel Hayes has often taken to Twitter to express his support for Black Lives Matter and other social and political issues. His teammate, Bronson Koenig, has been vocal about the DAPL pipeline in North Dakota, even visiting the site of the protest at Standing Rock to set up a basketball camp for kids. The activism of the basketball team inspired a New York Times article titled “Inside College Basketball’s Most Political Locker Room.”

Athletes have also spoken out about the noose incident at Camp Randall Oct. 29. Football running back Dare Ogunbowale and other athletes circulated a statement on social media criticizing the university’s response and defending student-athletes from the assumption that they are “immune to the racial injustices that affect other students of color on campus.”

Some people feel that student-athletes, particularly those on scholarship, should be grateful for their opportunity and stay quiet. We believe, however, that they are using their status as some of the most recognizable names and faces on campus for a good cause.

Political activism has been a constant in the history of UW-Madison, and the fact that our student-athletes use their fame and popularity to uphold this tradition should be appreciated by all.

University must protect undocumented students with Trump presidency looming

Following fears of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promises to deport undocumented immigrants, UW-Madison’s response has been both swift and encouraging.

Undocumented students already face an uphill battle in college. In Wisconsin, undocumented students are not eligible for in-state tuition at any of the state’s public universities, even if they meet residency requirements, and often cannot access federal financial aid.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank correctly understands that the university does not have the legal authority to declare itself a “sanctuary” campus. The city of Madison also understood this in 2010 when they instructed the Madison Police Department to not inform federal officials of someone’s immigration status, except in an instance of violent crime.

Blank and other university leaders, however, stood by the accomplishments of these “student scholars and student leaders,” who should be allowed to continue their education at UW-Madison under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects undocumented youth from deportation.

Recent legislation by the Faculty Senate and the Associated Students of Madison to stand in solidarity with these students is also encouraging. However, the fight to allow Madison to be a sanctuary city must continue despite the Republican-controlled state Legislature. Undocumented students provide enormous amounts of talent, leadership and intellect to UW-Madison and should be protected.

Leah Voskuil | The Daily Cardinal

University fails in response to Camp Randall noose incident

UW-Madison made national headlines Oct. 29 for all the wrong reasons. A man wearing a President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton mask with a noose around his neck attended a home football game.

The university’s response condemned the costume as offensive and said it countered the values of both UW-Madison and the Athletic Department, but defended it as free speech.

From the start, Camp Randall should not have allowed the horribly offensive costume into the stadium. Eventually, event staff asked the man to leave, along with another man dressed as Trump, who held the noose.

Students, alumni, Faculty Senate, University Committee and the Associated Students of Madison alike all responded to the racist costume—calling out the university for not taking a more assertive stance.

It wasn’t until these groups voiced concern that Chancellor Rebecca Blank apologized for the university’s original weak apology, this time saying she understood how it hurt students of color on campus.

In the end, the offenders’ season tickets were revoked, and Camp Randall installed a new policy prohibiting nooses. However, all of the change came too late. UW-Madison should have acted sooner and condemned the act from the start.

The university’s original response failed to address the severity of the situation. The university prides itself on its new diversity initiatives, but failed to stand with students during this act of hate speech.

Cameron Lane-Flehinger | The Daily Cardinal

Donald Trump wins presidential election in shocking manner

In early November, the unthinkable happened—Donald Trump was elected president. Against all odds, a homophobic, Islamophobic, misogynist real estate mogul won the presidency.

And Trump has been quite busy since winning the election in early November. He has appointed a number of controversial candidates to his cabinet, and most shockingly made Stephen Bannon his chief strategist.

Beyond this, the president-elect has also lashed out at the media on numerous occasions. He has stated that CNN is “very unprofessional” and that the Associated Press have “lost their way and are no longer credible.”

Also, in an interview with The New York Times, Trump stated that their coverage of him during the election season was “very rough,” something he believes made his campaign difficult.

Such statements are an attack on the First Amendment rights of the press—rights we encourage all Americans to exercise. Call your local legislators. Call Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin. Leave them messages and tell them why you oppose certain Trump appointments—like Bannon.

Fulfill your duty as an American and become engaged in our democracy. Show the world that love trumps hate. 

Robert Darlington | The Daily Cardinal

ASM representatives must be held accountable on attendance

Associated Students of Madison is supposed to represent students. When members of Student Council and Student Services Finance Committee don’t show up, our voices are not being heard or respected.

ASM makes decisions that affect every single student on campus. Some of the most important of those decisions are made by SSFC, determining where our segregated fees, $137 million of them from 2015 to 2017, go.

Given that ASM is composed of students, who have other obligations, it is understandable that perfect attendance records are hard to achieve—and it makes sense that attendance is not an issue singular to this semester.

However, both ASM Chair Carmen Goséy and SSFC Chair Colin Barushok have been vocal this semester about attendance concerns.

Lack of attendance particularly hinders SSFC because in order to approve groups’ eligibility for segregated fees or their annual budgets, it needs eight out of 15 members to attend meetings.

For Student Council, problems with attendance mean problems filling seat vacancies when they open up. To approve a nomination, two-thirds of all Council representatives need to vote them in—and there have been meetings this semester in which two-thirds of all representatives are not even present, let alone unanimous.

Although students are busy and it’s somewhat unreasonable to ask representatives to have perfect attendance, these students have made a commitment, and have been elected, to represent us in these meetings.

We ask that they show up.

Cardinal View editorials represent The Daily Cardinal’s organizational opinion. Each editorial is crafted independent of news coverage. Please send all comments, questions and concerns to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Cardinal.