Campus News

Students to file hate and bias report against university for KKK committee response

The group suggested the university address the struggles of underrepresented groups today but provided no answer regarding the renaming of the Fredric March Play Circle and Porter Butts Gallery at the Union — both named after members of the 1920’s “Klu Klux Klan” student group.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

A group of UW-Madison students and alumni are responding to the university’s Ku Klux Klan study group decision by filing a hate and bias report.

Adan Raed Abu-Hakmeh, a UW-Madison senior, announced on Facebook Tuesday her plans to file a hate and bias report against the university for its “inadequacy in renouncing the memorialization of the KKK on campus.”

This proclamation comes just under a week after a university study group proposed action as to how UW-Madison can deal with its past ties to the KKK. The group suggested the university address the struggles of underrepresented groups today but provided no answer regarding the renaming of the Fredric March Play Circle and Porter Butts Gallery at the Union — both named after members of the 1920’s “Klu Klux Klan” student group.

Abu-Hakmeh called this inaction “inexcusable” but said that after years of working with Chancellor Rebecca Blank and Dean Lori Berquam in programs like Our Wisconsin, it is not too surprising.

“They don’t actually follow through with student suggestions,” she said. “This is a simple thing the university can do to show support to marginalized students. By making it an indecisive choice on their behalf, they are showing that they don’t care what harm comes out of this.”

According to Abu-Hakmeh, filing a hate and bias report about the issue “forces a dialogue.” She added the report will tell administration they are “perpetrating an irreparable harm” that can be alleviated through face-to-face conversation.

Since posting about her plan on various social media platforms Tuesday, Abu-Hakmeh has received over 250 messages of support from people requesting their names be on the report as well.

“I was willing to do this when it was just me on my own, but I knew that there were other people who felt the same way,” she said. “Being able to provide a platform for a voice is really important to me.”

Omer Arain, a UW-Madison graduate student, was just one of the people in support of the hate and bias report. According to Arain, the inaction “really speaks to UW-Madison’s lack of commitment to people of color” — particularly black students and employees.

“Confronting history is not supposed to easy,” he said. “[It] doesn’t stop at acknowledging things happened.”

While Abu-Hakmeh called the study group’s other recommendations — like the plan to fund a campus history project to recover the histories of marginalized campus members — “really amazing” steps in the right direction, she said these initiatives should be independent of the KKK study.

“That should already be an initiative that UW-Madison is undertaking to make all students feel like they have a history and space here,” she said.

Abu-Hakmeh said she plans to file the report sometime over the weekend.

“If [Chancellor Blank] brushes aside this kind of meeting, then she is saying that this internal reporting method we have to protect students is not something she cares for,” Abu-Hakmeh said.

UW-Madison spokesperson Meredith McGlone said the university will review and respond to the report following usual procedures.

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