University of Wisconsin-Madison students expressed concerns to the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) about the potential destruction of buildings housing Mecha de UW-Madison (Mecha) and the Indigenous Student Center (ISC) in a student council meeting on Wednesday.
Members of Mecha and the ISC expressed concerns to ASM representatives Wednesday about the potential destruction of their respective communal spaces, located at 206 Bernard Court and 215 N. Brooks St. respectively, due to the nearby construction of Levy Hall.
“[That UW-Madison] is demolishing Mecha and Wunk Sheek’s homes to create a parking lot is disgraceful,” said a student representing Wunk Sheek, a UW-Madison indigenous student organization. “They’re demolishing homes to create a parking lot.”
According to the campus master plan, Levy Hall will be built on the southwest corner of Park Street and West Johnson Street. In order to construct Levy Hall, two buildings currently housing residence halls — Zoe Bayliss Co-op and Davis Hall — will be demolished. The master plan also shows the removal of other buildings on the block, including 206 Bernard Court and 215 N. Brooks St.
University administration, however, denied that there are plans to demolish or remove the ISC.
UW-Madison Dean of Students Christina Olstad was present at the ASM meeting Wednesday and denied any plans to demolish the two buildings. Olstad told The Daily Cardinal that the plan for Levy Hall has been reduced since the creation of the master plan in 2015 and the construction of Levy Hall will not include the demolition of all areas detailed in the master plan.
“It was incredibly impactful hearing all of the concerns of the students, and I will be sharing those with my colleagues in upper administration,” Olstad said. “But there are no plans to demolish either of those houses that I am aware of.”
Olstad noted the construction of Levy Hall will involve vibrations studies to determine the impact of construction on the structural integrity of nearby buildings. If the studies determine that construction will negatively impact nearby buildings, further steps will be taken by the university. She did not clarify what steps would be taken specifically.
“It's highly possible that the vibration studies will show that there's minimal impact,” Olstad said. “But if there is an impact we need to have a plan on where to engage and we want to engage students in the plans.”
In addition to students expressing concerns about Levy Hall, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway was also present at Wednesday’s ASM meeting. She spoke about her administration’s accomplishments and plans for the future.
“I wanted to just highlight a few of the things that my administration has been working on, is working on and plans to continue working on,” Rhodes-Conway said. “But let me just start by saying that I've come to recognize the importance of UW and, particularly, the university body. That is to say, Madison is not what it is without the UW.”
Rhodes-Conway listed housing, transportation and climate change, among others, as her administration’s top priorities moving forward.
Drake White-Bergey is the editor-in-chief and previous photo editor of The Daily Cardinal. He is a fourth-year student studying History and Journalism. You can follow him on Instagram at @whitebergey.photography and on Twitter at @DWhiteBergey.