UW students crash Regents meeting to demand psychologists 'of color'

A mob of students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison converged upon a meeting of the UW system’s Board of Regents Friday to protest what they see as a lack of progress on diversity issues.

According to a Facebook event page for the “Blackout” demonstration, the purpose of the display was not only to “call out university officials on their lack of support and action in matters of Diversity, Inclusion, Harm against students of color, Campus social climate, and the over all [sic] condition of non-majority students on campus,” but also to raise objections to a Free Speech Resolution passed by the Regents, which the activists claim “protects speech that can be considerred [sic] discriminatory or hate speech.”

Previously, The Capital Times reportsthat the same students had interrupted a Regents meeting in December to protest the free speech resolution before it was passed, complaining that it would prevent individuals from interfering with the freedom of others “to express views they reject or even loathe.”

Campus Reform obtained video footage of the altercation, during which the visibly agitated students shout over the proceedings while nonplussed Board members wait patiently for them to finish their tantrum.

The demonstrators kick off their interruption with an ambiguous call-and-response chant, in which one student shouts “I say,” whereupon the rest holler, “power!”

After repeating the chant several times, the crowd settles down to allow one of the students to begin outlining their grievances.

Lamenting “the failure of progress on diversity within the UW system,” the unidentified male student issues a demand to the Regents, calling on them to “publicly acknowledge that the UW system has much work to do in restoring justice to the harm [sic] students of color experience.”

There follows another brief interlude of chanting, followed by a second male speaker.

“We demand that UW increase funding and resources for UW institutions for the purpose of hiring mental health professionals, particularly those of color, [and] boosting mental health outreach programs across UW system institutions,” he bellows at the hapless board members. “We specifically demand that UW engage in a comprehensive study of why there’s a lack of mental health professionals of color to provide robust, applicable mental health programs that will be vetted by students, faculty, and staff of color to recruit and retain those mental health professionals that we do not have.”

As an example of the need for such resources, the student cites the example of his former roommate, who “was forced to drop out because he did not feel comfortable here, because mentally he could not take being the only black student in his classes; he could not take the racial slurs he was receiving from white students on this campus; he could not take the overall environment that students of color feel on this campus every single day.”

Towards the end of the rant, a bystander shouts “let ‘em know!” to encourage the speaker, whose voice had risen in both pitch and volume over the course of the speech to the point of cracking with emotion.

When the second speaker had finished, the protesters returned to their chanting, this time responding to an unintelligible prompt with cries of “I got yo’ back!”

Police officers can be seen roaming the room throughout the video, but appear to be on hand simply as a precaution against disorder, and do not interfere with the protest in any way.

Coincidentally, The Daily Cardinal reports that just one day before the Blackout protest, UW-Madison played host to a lecture by Roderick A. Ferguson, a professor of African-American and gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in which he praised the efficacy of “black radicalism” on college campuses while rejecting the notion that demands for things like diversity training, improved cultural centers, and increased faculty and student diversity represent a threat to free speech.

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