EDI Rapid Action Task Force opposes decision to reinstate five suspended football players

Statement released today clarifies RATF was not on the panel that ‘ruled no violation of administrative code occurred’

The+EDI+Rapid+Action+Task+Force+released+their+final+report+on+Jan.+31+before+their+dissolution+in+February%2C+but+are+now+calling+on+the+UW-Eau+Claire+administration+to+make+%E2%80%9Call+deliberations+and+documents+related+to+the+incident+and+subsequent+investigation%E2%80%9D+public.

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The EDI Rapid Action Task Force released their final report on Jan. 31 before their dissolution in February, but are now calling on the UW-Eau Claire administration to make “all deliberations and documents related to the incident and subsequent investigation” public.

Note: Jan Larson, a co-chair of the task force, is The Spectator’s faculty advisor.

The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Rapid Action Task Force released a statement today to state their opposition of the university-ordered reinstatement of five members of the Blugold football team who were involved in a thread of racist Snapchat messages

“The (task force) worked very hard in January to ensure the administration pointed out and implemented big changes for our campus,” said Aruwin Santherasegaren, who was a member of the task force and graduated from UW-Eau Claire in May 2020. “It is crucially important that we … oppose the decision that was made for the five football players.”

Members and co-chairs of the task force signed the statement, which called on the university administration and UW System to amend the UWS 17 policy “so that all perpetrators of overt racist acts are held accountable.”

In a statement that Chancellor James C. Schmidt emailed to the university community on Sept. 22, it was stated that a panel of faculty, staff and students determined the five students involved in the racist Snapchat thread did not violate UWS 17 — the policy that outlines student nonacademic disciplinary procedures. 

The task force clarified in their statement that none of its members or co-chairs were involved in the aforementioned panel of faculty, staff and students, nor were they involved in the decision to reinstate the five football players.

The RATF’s statement also says none of its members participated in, nor were informed, of any review or final outcome to reinstate the five students on the Blugold football team. 

Kim Wudi, a co-chair of the task force and head women’s volleyball coach, said she and the other members of the task force were disappointed to hear about the university’s decision to reinstate the five football players because they felt like their recommendations were not taken seriously.

“We just felt that it was not reflective of the work we asked the administration to do,” Wudi said. “Our work as a task force really ended in February, and we know that, but as a group of individuals, we’re asking the administration to hold themselves to a higher standard than this.”

Before its dissolution in February, the task force released its final report on Jan. 31, which outlined nine recommendations to improve EDI on campus:

 

  1. Develop and implement a Restorative Justice program
  2. Encourage a culture of reporting and responding to hate and bias incidents through a variety of measures to improve the Bias Incident Reporting process
  3. Review, update, and expand existing crisis communication plans to better inform and protect the campus community
  4. Expand and enhance EDI training for students, faculty, and staff
  5. Take proactive measures to bolster recruitment and retention efforts for diverse international and domestic students, faculty, and staff
  6. Update and redesign the EDI website to be easier to navigate and provide improved access to information and resources
  7. Develop and publicize mechanisms to support students, faculty, and staff in the aftermath of a bias/hate incident
  8. Engage campus stakeholders in a process to review and update codes of conduct, handbooks, etc. to reflect the university’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusivity
  9. Create regular and ongoing opportunities for connection among campus and community members to engage with each other on topics of equity, diversity, and inclusivity.

 

“We stand with all those who are harmed by institutional and individual acts of racism,” the task force’s statement says. “We stand with the Blugold Football team members opposed to reinstatement without accountability and all others seeking restorative justice and healing.”

Aja St. Germaine, a third-year English critical studies student who was a member of the task force, said they hope the university understands their message was not a message of reparation.

“Black students were robbed of their justice and that is simply unacceptable as a part of any university,” St. Germaine said. “The EDI RATF tried our best to be advocates of change, and that change was stopped before it reached students.”

Van Sistine can be reached at [email protected].