Anger. Pain. Horror. Over the last few weeks, these are a few of the emotions that we at the Wisconsin Union Directorate have struggled with. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Tony Robinson, Philando Castile, Hadiya Pendleton and Eric Garner are a few names of an exhausting list of Black people that should be with their friends, families and colleagues right now. Their murders were not just a demonstration of the cold-blooded indifference shown to Black lives in this country, but also the results of anaemic leadership at all levels, devoid of any moral, ethical or social responsibilities.
Having a conversation of whether or not institutional racism exists is, frankly, removed from reality. It exists, it is pervasive, and it is shredding the very fabric of our society. White supremacy, the militarization of the police, inequalities within the healthcare system and unfair housing practices are simply some of the numerous injustices that the black community has been forced to shoulder.
As the living room of campus, we will no longer leave important conversations undiscussed. To that effect, the Wisconsin Union Directorate would like to compel and actively encourage our advisory boards and Union Council to employ moral leadership to address policy changes, such as instituting support structures for BIPOC’s at the leadership level of the Union, reviewing hiring practices, rethinking Union spaces and atmosphere, and creating an open forum for student and staff input. The Union President, Vice President of Internal Relations, Vice President of External Relations and Hoofer Council President all lead the Advisory Boards and sit on the Union Council, with the active participation of Directorate and we commit to exemplifying the moral leadership we espouse. To achieve these goals it is imperative that we have the support and participation of both students and the Leadership Staff to be successful in our reform of the Union to create a more welcoming and celebratory atmosphere for BIPOC at the Union.
Each committee of the Wisconsin Union Directorate is committing to amplifying the voices of BIPOC students through thoughtful and deliberate programming that targets societal issues of racial bias. From being more intentional with the messages we lift up through our programming to working with leaders and professionals of marginalized communities, our committees and its members are dedicated to generating effective discussions and propose actions on racial bias in mental health, environmental sustainability, police brutality, legislative changes, housing discrimination, medical care, data and technology, art and entertainment, education, military, immigration, the prison industrial complex and labour practices.
We have an obligation to utilize the privilege of our organization and the power of our positions to continue to educate ourselves and provide those same opportunities to our community.
Finally, we encourage those who are in need of support during this time to connect with campus resources at the Multicultural Student Center, DDEEA, University Health Services and the Employee Assistance Office.
June 11, 2020