Audrey Tchaa, contributed author Shannon Hoyt-
Students rallied together to make a statement for marginalized students at the University of Wisconsin–Stout, Wednesday, April 18. The protest began at the Memorial Student Center and moved to the Administration building, where students sat outside the Chancellor’s office. The protest was hosted by William Chang, junior studying golf enterprise management and hotel, restaurant, and tourism management with a minor in business, and Carol Vang, a senior studying business administration.
“The purpose of this silent protest is to showcase the lack of support from the administrators to students of color and underrepresented students at Stout in specific regards to communication, support, involvement, services, cultural climate and resources,” said Chang. “It’s focused on the dialogue that we need and want from the administration.”
Vang said that these issues have been ongoing, but no action has taken place. More than thirty students were in attendance at the protest. A few students shared why they went and what they believe has had a significant impact this year.
Megan Katcher, junior studying applied social science, said, “A friend of mine was racially profiled a few weeks ago by a Menomonie police officer. Many of my queer and trans friends have experienced street harassment and were exposed to an ad on campus for conversion therapy last semester. The lack of representation for our students of color is a problem that persists until we address the issues with progressive change.”
William Yang, junior studying computer science, attended as an advocate. “As a gay Hmong man, I do not find the LGBT resources on campus adequate for me, nor do I think that the UW-Stout body is culturally aware of racial issues happening on campus because Stout rarely talks about it and doesn’t raise attention to the issues,” said Yang. “Instead, they have small group discussions, and only a small amount of students and faculty get to become more aware of what is going on at Stout. This invisibility only serves to maintain the status quo on campus because the people who are not in the know with campus emails and the daily mail due to lack of time or busy work, but want to learn, don’t get the opportunity to better themselves. It’s also almost always the minority and underrepresented students who bring awareness to these issues on campus when the administration should be doing more to talk about these issues.”
Jasmine Baker, a junior in professional communication and emerging media, said, “For the three years I have been here, I have seen constant low blows to minority communities and most of the time the administration speaks nothing of it. Our school, out of several other UW schools, wants to sweep all of the race/gender issues under the rug because in their eyes, it’s not good PR. Instead of boasting about how great the school is, there should be an attempt to better the intercultural divide between current students and the administration.”
Organizers said the silent protest was a way to represent how the multicultural community of Stout feels when they’re here on campus. Students in attendance encouraged the student body to listen to what they have to say.
“We need a dialogue; we have demands; we need support; we are here and we want to be heard. Along with what Carol said, we can grow thick skin and deal with the problems we are constantly facing, but that doesn’t make it okay,” said Chang.
Chancellor Bob Meyer responded to the protest and the students expressing their concerns in the following statement:
UW-Stout is committed to supporting all our students, including our students of color, to ensure they succeed in the classroom and feel safe and supported on campus and in the community.
We devote significant resources to this effort. A number of offices do an exceptional job providing direct services and support to our students of color and underrepresented students. As a campus we are open to suggestions on ways to improve this support.
However, we acknowledge we can do more in this area. Therefore, the chancellor currently is seeking feedback on the duties and responsibilities of a diversity officer position. We would like to have that position established and filled by the fall semester.
Finally, we support our students’ rights to express themselves freely and welcome their involvement in issues related to inclusive excellence and diversity.
Additional Thoughts From Students
“I feel our campus does not pay attention to the voices of POCs (people of color) and minority groups.” -Fuji
“Because we all deserve to have a voice, but currently at UW–Stout, not all of my fellow students do. I want to stand by their sides and to help create a beloved community. It is a peaceful way to show how minorities are silenced.” -Katherine Lindsoe
“Because more people need to be aware that problems like this exist. The administration needs to know that students are not going to allow this type of ignorance is going to be acceptable on our campus anymore.” -Madalaine McConville
“I went to the Silent Protest to show the heads of the school who’s being directly affected by their decisions: the people of color at Stout who continuously have to face discriminatory acts because of their silence.” -Theresa Hang