UWEC students march against racism

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The end of the school year is drawing near, but students at UW Eau Claire made their way out of their dorms and classrooms to take a stand.

The group of students said recent racist comments, Facebook posts, graffiti and anonymous notes targeting minorities lead to Wednesday's "dismantling oppression" march through campus.

About 200 students walked through the campus, not to go to and from class, but to go from racism and hatred, to equality and awareness.

“In the past few years, a lot of instances have happened on this campus, that have kind of, for a lack of a better word, been swept under the rug, or have not really been addressed in a proper way,” UWEC student Kyra Witcher said.

“Students knew about it, but it was on the ‘hush hush’ level.”

“Our experiences shouldn't get overloooked, and minimized,” UWEC student Choua Xiong said. “I have a voice and I feel like I can use it.”

Students gathered at the Haas Fine Arts Center, where they marched across the river through campus buildings and to spread loud message of acceptance.

“Change can not happen without dialogue and that is our biggest goal here, is to call these things out, not to pass blame on anyone but to make it known that these issues are here, what can we do about it?” Witcher said.

The march ended at Davies Center where students and Chancellor James Schmidt spoke out to support the cause.

“We are so much stronger because of the diverse expressions, feelings backgrounds, cultures as a university than we would be by ourselves with people only like us,” Schmidt said during his address.

“I do not support hatred, I do not support bigotry and I support stamping out racism,” he said.

“It's showing that they're hearing us and they're listening, and I think that this is going to create some change,” UWEC student Maya Witte said.

“This is just the beginning of what's to come,” Witcher said.

On Thursday, two round table forums are scheduled where students and staff are expected to talk about what's been happening and how the problem can be better addressed on campus.

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