Nobody starts where they end, within this process, there is always a journey, and in this journey, one starts out comfortable, but then things change. Life changes, and before you can stand out you have to learn how to fit in because things don’t end up as they start. This is a paraphrased message preached by Pastor T.D. Jakes, a direct reflection on the Student Inclusion Coalition protest that took place Friday afternoon on October 25th.
A demonstration of students united, standing in solidarity from the very peak of Bascom Hill near Abraham Lincoln statue, down to the steps of North Park Street. Faces looked puzzled while walking up and down the hill to and from classes to witness the organized students protest along the perimeter of the walkway. It was almost like the ending scene of US, tethered doppelgängers joined together to mirror Hands Across America. Faculty and staff throughout the university, in addition to families from the Madison community-supported, by dressing in all black, carrying their own signs to raise attention to the demands of students.
This was not a student of color protest, but a demand of all Madison students to know right from wrong. To acknowledge that the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a history of being a cheerleader standing on the sidelines but does not address racial discrimination on campus. Problems will arise from all aisles of the party, regardless of political affiliation, race, gender, but the poor treatment towards minorities on campus tends not to be addressed.
As a result, of the aftermath of the Homecoming video produced by the Homecoming committee to inform the public of how diverse the university is with a multitude and surplus of students from all nationalities and countries. They failed to depict this representation and the final product became the final straw. Due to the fact that the homecoming committee documented students of color, for production, but intentionally left them out of the final product and wasted the time of these students and organizations.
The Student Inclusion Coalition was formed, to advocate for the social, academic, and emotional wellness of all marginalized students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their goal is to be a catalyst for change by ensuring proper representation, opportunities, and resources are afforded to each student.
Many students are accepted into the university because admissions believed in their academic talents; to utilize the resources and platform Wisconsin offers and embrace the goal and career path they seek. However, this tunnel vision to pursue and earn this career path and trajectory student envision is accelerated on campus due to the learning environment Wisconsin traditionally has, so students seek to make these necessary changes providing a diverse perspective.
October 25th protest was the enactment of marginalized students standing their ground to the university, to meet demands of not today and tomorrow, but the demands that were promised decades ago. This year commemorates The Black Student Strike of 1969 fifty-year anniversary. Black UW students, created a campus-wide student strike until administrators agreed to 13 demands.
The Student Inclusion Coalition created a list of five demands, including a well-deserved appreciation to the four protesters from the 1969 student strike who had their academic funding cut in systemic blackmail from the university. This consequence resulted in those four students dropping out of the university, but within the demand, these four students shall receive honorary degrees to bestow in this upcoming 2020 springs graduation commencement.Infectious heartfelt energy was felt and met when every single student, community supporter, faculty and staff rallied to the top of Bascom Hill in front of Abraham Lincoln to announce the five demands.
It was a scene everyone will remember, and cherish, acknowledging their voices were heard to contribute to necessary institutional change. Onlookers witnessed these students all embrace one another with hugs, delight smiles, and tears of joy. While some may not understand the level of importance this is for students, there is room for growth to learn how to be an ally to marginalized students. Room for improvement in actions, and behavior to unite with any and everyone who does not share the same upbringing as you. But ultimately we all share this human emotion to grieve, sympathize and speak up.