Student government might prioritize Black Lives Matter
- A student government proposal would "make the message of Black Lives Matter a priority during the session through various campaigns, outreach, and representation"
- UWM College Republicans Chairman Charlie Mueth slammed the proposal as a "publicity stunt," claiming that "when duty calls and [activists] have the opportunity to make change hands-on, they cowardly run away”
Representatives from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Associated Students of Madison (ASM) Student Council have authored legislation making Black Lives Matter a “priority during the session.”
The previous chair and vice chair of the University of Wisconsin-Madison ASM put up a Black Lives Matter sign two years ago in the group’s office without permission from anyone else at ASM, The Badger Herald reported. The sign was taken down during window cleaning and the authors of the legislation want to put a new sign up, this time for good.
“The ASM shall make the message of Black Lives Matter a priority during the session through various campaigns, outreach, and representation,” the legislation contends.
But students remain divided on how the sign was put up and later taken down.
“For me personally, if [the sign] ever had to be taken down, it would have to be through a vote of the student council,” Aglia Ardyssa, a representative of the Student Council and co-author of the legislation said.
Current ASM Chair Billy Welsh told The Herald that the sign was handmade and had lost all of the letters apart from those in the word “black,” adding that this is a good time to reevaluate the sign.
During an open forum regarding the presented legislation, UW-Madison College Republicans Chair Charlie Mueth said that he was concerned about what message a Black Lives Matter sign would send and elaborated on those concerns while speaking with Campus Reform by insisting that the ASM would be taking political sides by passing this legislation.
“As I said in my brief three-minute speech to the council, it is not the job of ASM to take political sides. Nor is it the job of ASM to promote certain student groups' special interests,” Mueth told Campus Reform. “How does putting a sign up in an office window actually change anything for the disadvantaged in the situation? Activists love ‘promoting justice’ through publicity stunts like this one, but when duty calls and they have the opportunity to make change hands-on, they cowardly run away.”
Mueth went on to say that if the ASM wanted to show “true leadership,” it should do two things.
“First, it would confidently reflect the belief of most students at UW-Madison that racial minorities are treated just like anyone else from the aggregate student body. One mean-spirited student who calls another student the n-word does not mean that the campus is racist,” the College Republicans chair said. “That is one outlier and he or she should be punished—not the whole school. Again and again, the left focuses on the 0.1 percent: the outliers.”
Mueth compared this line of thought to President Donald Trump’s critics’ pointing to Charlottesville as evidence that America is racist.
“ASM should quit trying to give minorities free rides just because of skin color. No decision should ever be made just because of skin color,” Mueth said. “People's backgrounds are much more complicated than their race. For institutions to generalize and put certain races on certain pedestals is racism by definition.”
Campus Reform has reached out to a spokesperson at UW-Madison, but was referred to the ASM, which did not reply.
The legislation will be voted on during the October 3 Student Council meeting.
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