College News

‘Concerned members’ of ASM, campus groups demand Chancellor Blank step down

Chancellor Rebecca Blank talked with The Daily Cardinal News Team in her office on a sunny March afternoon.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

Some members of the UW-Madison’s student government and other campus groups demanded Thursday that Chancellor Rebecca Blank step down following the university’s condemnation of the Associated Students of Madison’s divestment legislation.

Blank said no, according to a university spokesperson.

This demand comes after ASM passed legislation Wednesday night calling on the university and its foundation to divest from a variety of companies, including specific arms manufacturers, fossil fuel corporations and banks that “oppress marginalized communities.” The administration’s statement in response to this focused on the contentious part of the legislation, which came with an added amendment naming Israel.

The university’s response to legislation—which was quick to clarify that there will be no changes to UW-Madison’s policies or practices—said they are “concerned” with some of the actions during last night’s Student Council meeting. University officials said they “have heard clearly from the Jewish community how targeted they feel by the actions of the last month.”

The response from members of ASM—which was also signed by five other campus groups—said “the Chancellor refuses to acknowledge our genuine concerns regarding [university’s] involvement in the oppression of our communities.”

The ASM response said the “quick, passionate” statement from administration “ultimately serves to maintain white supremacy” as the university hasn’t made similar statements during “the numerous acts of discrimination against black communities.”

They said the university had “lackluster” responses to many recent events, such as when a student being arrested during class; when attendees at a Badger football game put a noose around a costume of President Barack Obama; and when Native American students were mocked during a healing circle for sexual assault survivors.

The university again emphasized in the statement that Blank is in “opposition to the concept of [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] and academic boycotts,” though co-sponsors and proponents of the legislation have previously separated it from BDS, which has been sharply criticized.

ASM’s response to the statement said the “legislation is not an academic boycott; it does not target Jewish students nor the State of Israel, but corporations complicit in human rights abuses. This is not BDS.”

In their response to the university, ASM also demanded an apology from UW communications and reiterated their previous demand, stating that the “UW Foundation to immediately divest from the corporations identified in the legislation.”

Blank also said she plans to meet with next year’s leadership of ASM to emphasize “the need to act with integrity and in ways that promote involvement by all students.”

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