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‘We want change’ rally held at UW-Stout

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 9:29 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - ‘We want change’ was the name of a rally held on the UW-Stout campus in Menomonie today.

Students, faculty, and community members gathered to demand a more racially equitable campus.

There were chants of 'we want change’, and ‘black lives matter’ outside of the administration building.

Organizers of the event say they’re tired. People spoke out to tell their stories of racial profiling and racism.

The peaceful rally also made modifications to ensure people wore masks and practiced social distancing.

About two months ago, a group of students drafted a petition to serve to the University of Wisconsin Stout administration, which led to this rally.

UW-Stout student Simon Brown is one of the organizers.

“Were just trying to make the campus more equitable. Since stout is about nine to 12% diverse were trying also to like have those people be seen more because Stout has kind of lately been more for that other 80-85% rather than for that 12% and I think we need to take those people into account more,” said Brown.

Those attending the rally heard testimonials from speakers, and the demands that make up the petition were read aloud.

“The first one is divesting from policing, this includes dissolving campus police and severing ties with local police departments ... investing in transformative justice, restorative justice, and community care on campus ... providing fair an equitable compensation for university employees including students,” Brown said.

Other demands include compensating students whose identities are used in promotional materials, especially when used to promote diversity and inclusion.

Stout senior Laresha Love says seeing the turn-out for an event she helped organize made her emotional,

“It truly brought tears to my eyes because I would have never thought that I would have had this support from this many people as a BIPOC around campus. People do support you here. They are here for you they love you, but you just see the negative you don’t see all the good people here.”

Love says she was nervous to return to campus after recent interactions with community members, but she says change may be on the horizon.

“The chancellor that we have now, Chancellor Frank has definitely handled the situation better than any other chancellor would.”

Love says Chancellor Frank sent out e-mails to BIPOC students asking to meet with them so she can learn what needs to be done to make minorities feel safer on campus.

“It’s a slow change, you can’t just wake up in the morning and have it be a new change. It takes days,” said Love.

In a statement to WEAU, UW-Stout says in part, “As a public university we firmly believe in and uphold every person’s right to free speech ... UW-Stout is committed to improving our efforts around equity, diversity, and inclusion on our campus.”

Organizers say they know the fight doesn’t end here.

They plan to have open discussions with leadership, including Chancellor Katherine Frank.

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