College News

UW-Madison Department of Afro-American Studies releases letter to students of color

Image By: Betsy Osterberger and Betsy Osterberger

Faculty and staff from the Department of Afro-American Studies at UW-Madison delivered an open letter Monday to students of color on campus, saying they are committed to putting pressure on the university to take action on behalf of those students.

The letter referenced the recent arrest of a UW-Madison student who was taken from a classroom, but also said that the incident was only one part of a larger issue that has been escalating in the last several months.

The department’s faculty and staff stressed in the letter their support for students of color on campus, saying it will be important moving forward to “keep your eyes on the prize.”

“We know you’re feeling torn between the demands of your studies and your desire to take an active role in responding to what’s happening,” the letter said. “Let some of the burden be shifted to our shoulders.”

The letter also addressed specific and concrete actions the faculty requested the administration make in regard to the recent incidents, including resource allocation for mental health needs of students of color and transparency and consistency in operations of student discipline.

Another action called for a more meaningful ethnic studies requirement at the university, where students would be required to take a class centered around diversity in the United States within their first two years. The faculty said although they know it would entail a large shift in resources, it would be a move that demonstrates that the administration’s commitment to fixing these issues is real.

The letter concluded with the faculty’s commitment to do “everything we can” to help students facing discrimination on campus.

“Our offices and classes are spaces dedicated to thoughtful, searching and engaged discussions about what’s at stake for students of color, and all students: the need to deal with racism as an environmental toxin, an atmosphere we all breathe that students of color, at times, are made to feel that they face alone,” the letter said. “If we should have learned anything in the 20th century, it’s that these are things that no one faces alone.”

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