Brooke Evans officially accepted a nomination Tuesday night to serve as a College of Letters & Science representative on the Associated Students of Madison Student Council. Pending a two-thirds vote at Wednesday’s council meeting, she will fill a seat previously held by UW-Madison student Zach Pravato.
Evans will be the first homeless student—as well as the first openly non-traditional, disabled and transfer student in many years—to serve on the body. Since 2012, she has been a prominent student activist in Madison and first spoke at ASM in 2014 regarding The Campus Food Pantry, now known as The Open Seat.
“It is climbing a mountain to have gotten [here] from the other side of the table, from being the beggar to the represented,” Evans said.
Earlier this year she appeared in a Glamour Magazine article discussing homelessness on college campuses, and she serves on the board of the Committee on Undergraduate Recruitment, Admissions and Financial Aid. Evans said that after years of working with ASM, she is glad to finally get a seat at the table with her peers from more traditional backgrounds.
“I still think that Brooke [Evans] should have received the nomination in the first place because she was the most qualified candidate in my eyes,” Pravato said.
Pravato has worked to create a Student Legal Services Center for the past two years. He said that with recent support from Evans he was able to reach out to other Big Ten schools with similar programs to develop a pilot service through ASM.
Before leaving to study abroad, Pravato said he wanted to ensure support for this program.
“I know if Brooke had any chance of getting on council that it would help tremendously to further the program,” he said. “I couldn’t think of anyone better than Brooke to fill my spot.”
As a voting member of Student Council, Evans said she will continue Pravato’s support of the new UW-Madison Student Legal Services. She plans to use her perspective and journey to reach out to underrepresented communities on campus. Evans said this process starts with re-examining ASM’s proportional model for seat distribution to account for those with unique backgrounds.
“Part of it is ASM can be so insular in a way that also tacitly demands students from [nontraditional] backgrounds assume the narrative of their more traditional peers,” Evans said. “This is to [say] no, you are valuable in your own right, you have a claim to this college experience and you have a right to demand proper representation.”
Evans said she plans to push for affordable and emergency student housing, FoodShare accessible campus dining options, accessibility to the Wisconsin Experience for all and update ASM’s nondiscrimination policy for the first time since the 1990s.
“There isn't a homeless individual in [a] position of governance or policy-making or decision-making at the table,” Evans said. “That changes now.”
UPDATE Dec. 14 10:45 a.m.: The story was updated to add additional information.