Author: Sam Buisman
The newly-formed Student Inclusion Coalition, or SIC, organized a protest on Bascom Hill this Friday to demand inclusive policies for marginalized students.
Roughly two hundred protestors crowded the walkways leading up and down the hill during noon passing time as a symbolic demand for visibility. Protesters then marched to Bascom Hall, chanting slogans like “We expect we demand,” along with a call-and-response “What are we sick of? UW!” chant in reference to the group’s namesake.
Flanking the Lincoln Statue, SIC organizers addressed the crowd and read out a list of five demands of the UW Administration. The group structured their demands as broad goals for either the recognition or improvement of conditions for marginalized students on campus. With each of these goals, the group demanded specific policies designed to achieve them, including re-establishing the Multicultural Finance Committee with a budget of at least $5 million, building permanent on-campus housing for minoritized students and bestowing honorary degrees on four members of the 1969 Black Student Strike.
According to SIC Mobilization Chair Adrianna Griffin Phipps, the protest was designed to force UW to hear the voice of its marginalized students.
“We want to show solidarity and unison for all marginalized communities,” said Griffin-Phipps, “and we want to show that the university cannot just treat us as tokenized individuals and that they cannot disregard our activism efforts.”
SIC organized the protest through Facebook, urging protestors to wear black. The post also called for a media blackout, and neither protestors nor organizers spoke to the press until the demonstration ended.
According to SIC Mobilization Committee Member Dylan Mercer, the group notified UW Officials of the protest prior to Friday. The UW, nor police, took steps to obstruct the protest. A few UW faculty members, including Dean of Students Christina Olstad, attended the protest in solidarity.
The group recognizes the importance of working with the UW to achieve their goals. At the protest, SIC organizers encouraged protestors to reach out to other faculty members to raise support. Many of the group’s policy demands ask the UW to create cooperation opportunities between it and students of color. And, according to Griffin-Phipps, the group already has meetings with administration officials to discuss its demands.
SIC formed amidst the campus unrest caused by a video from the Wisconsin Homecoming Committee. The “Home is Where WI Are” video, posted on Sept. 30 but taken down shortly thereafter, intended to highlight student life and organizations but featured almost exclusively white students. This was despite the fact that diversity-centered campus organizations produced clips for the video at the Committee’s request, which were then left out of the final video.
In response, SIC produced their own video titled “Home is Where WI Are Not” on Oct. 22, highlighting many exclusionary experiences of students of color on campus. The video has just under 47 thousand views across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
On the same day, the group published a press release expressing their intent to organize beyond the homecoming video and press for inclusivity on campus.
While SIC currently has no further protests planned, Griffin-Phipps said that more are to come if the University does not act on their demands.
“I would never start something without finishing it,” Griffin-Phipps said. “That means we will get our demands met.”
Griffin-Phipps said SIC has created a student task force to monitor the university’s progress and will organize further protests based on their reports.