All talk and no show

We demand transparency from our administration

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Photo by Alee Erickson

We should and do expect the UW-Eau Claire administration to address the issues of racism at an institutional level.

A pattern of racist acts across UW-Eau Claire have resulted in faculty and students demanding for action — action that hasn’t yet been executed. 

This past weekend, a student’s private Snapchat stories were leaked onto social media, titled with racist language in reference to recent social justice events, including the death of George Floyd. 

This incident has not been the first racist incident at UW-Eau Claire. Last November, students protested on campus about racist Snapchat messages between members of the Blugold football team which used racially-charged images. 

Chancellor James C. Schmidt has made public comments to address his viewpoints on the racist actions at the university throughout the last year — specifically, that the university administration must do better.

“You should expect transparency from us. You should expect action from us,” Schmidt said to a crowd at a silent walkout following the football team incident in 2019.

This message has continued to be reiterated by the Chancellor and administrators alike, but never fulfilled. In light of the most recent Snapchat incident, the administration has not officially released a statement — as of Feb. 10 — to the student body on the issue.

Students and faculty feel that every time there is a racist incident on our campus, the time it takes for administration to address the situation, and come up with a resolution that satisfies the victims affected, is overdue.

The student who posted the private Snapchat stories has gone to local news outlets to address the situation; however, the issue has not been talked about from the perspective of those affected.

The editorial board feels the emphasis of this incident should not be on the perpetrator, but instead on the victims and their perspectives of the incident.

UW-Eau Claire is no stranger to racist incidents and by focusing on the perpetrators, there is no focus on trying to bring justice to the victims or educating others on how to prevent further incidents from occurring.

Instead of adding attention to the student who created the Snapchat and sensationalizing his actions, the focus should be on the heart of the matter: boosting voices in the Black community and what change they want to see.

When incidents of violence and harassment on campus occur, community members at UW-Eau Claire are encouraged to document and report a Bias/Hate Incident Report, which is then evaluated at the administrative level as reports are submitted. 

In addition, the Center for Racial and Restorative Justice — created in the fall of 2020 — works alongside BIRT forms to evaluate situations related to equity, diversity and inclusion. 

Several BIRT reports have already been made in light of this incident by the campus community, according to Teresa O’Halloran, interim vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and student affairs.

Students have also transformed the same social media outlets used for the racist act to promote their efforts toward justice for the Black community and people of color on campus.

Like Ducksworth-Lawton said in an interview with The Spectator, the editorial board believes if we do not change now — to address the transparency of systematic oppression toward the BIPOC community — we are not going to have a campus to come back to.

We should and do expect the UW-Eau Claire administration to address the issues of racism at an institutional level. If we do not hold those — like Schmidt — in higher power accountable, the message on how the university views minority groups is already writing itself. 

The Spectator Editorial Staff recognizes that we are an all-white editorial board and that we do not have the experiences of a person of color. We acknowledge that we too have steps to make toward fostering a more equitable, diverse and inclusive environment.

The editorial staff can be reached at [email protected]