UW-Eau Claire students hold ‘cops off campus: dare to divest’ rally
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Students on the UW-Eau Claire campus gathered today to demand change within the university.
The rally was called, ‘cops off campus: dare to divest.’
Similar to last week’s rally at UW-Stout, Blugolds shared stories, and read demands to the university.
Stephanie Hoeksema is a fifth year student at UW-Eau Claire. She’s a political organizer for Leaders Igniting Transformation.
Hoeksema says her goal is to eventually abolish the police.
“Policing as an institution was established to police black and brown bodies and it has since then served the purpose of protecting white wealth,” said Hoeksema.
For now, Hoeksema, and Jacksen Wolf, another student who helped to organize the event say they want the university to put less funding into campus law enforcement, and more toward other student resources. Wolf told WEAU,
“It’s based off of research we did this summer. Basically we did research and looked at how much the administration is doing for students of diverse backgrounds and seeing how much money is going into policing as opposed to student resources. we found that police on this campus and very ineffective in stopping certain violent crimes and crime in general and are more so focused on under aged drug and alcohol use and we think that those types of things can be handled differently and more appropriately.”
In regards to the new center on campus for racial and restorative justice, Hoeksema says they are fighting for an actual procedure of restorative justice, not just a space to talk about and research it.
“Anything less than really doing what we’re saying is performative.”
In addition, they say this movement on the UWEC campus is a preventative measure.
“We don’t have to get there to do something. We should be being proactive we should be making changes before it gets there. Inflicting that kind of trauma on our community is not necessary for us to be reflecting on how our systems are not working,” Hoeksema said.
The rally had about 100 people in attendance for their first in person gathering.
“Looking around and being able to see we have all these supporters is a great feeling. It’s a great sense of community that goes unseen too often in conversations like this,” said Wolf.
Organizers say this is just the tip of the iceberg, they plan to meet one on one with administrators in the coming weeks as they know change does not happen overnight.
WEAU did reach out to the university for comment, but has not yet heard back.
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