Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday Update
Read the full statements below:
Statement From Molinna Bui - Chair, Student Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council; MOSAIC Educator, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs; Peer Health Educator, Student Health and Counseling Center; Vice-President, Pre-Health Club; and Senator, Parkside Student Government
The Student Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council (SEDI) strives to manifest Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words and values in the support we provide for underrepresented students, as well as those in the community. We have continuously advocated for the rights of not only students of color, but all students, through our monthly forums, involvement in the Administrative EDI Council, as well as proposals / resolutions advocating for administrative or system-wide change. It is not only my dream, but the dream of many underrepresented students, to continue to be heard and involved in decisions or projects that directly impact students like myself and others on SEDI. It is of the utmost importance that we continue to hire faculty of color / LGBTQ+ faculty, pursue implicit bias / cultural awareness training for both students / faculty, and continue to have conversations with both students / faculty followed by real, true action plans - not just empty language and narratives.
We, at UW-Parkside, have the privilege and honor of having 40% self-identified students of color on campus, and we need to establish the necessary resources, support, and faculty that students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students with disabilities can utilize and be proud of. Many research studies have proven the correlation between academic success / retention and faculty representative of the student population, which is not just a campus issue, but an overall education issue. UW-Parkside has the ability to be at the forefront of this movement, providing an example for other universities and communities, embodying the very qualities Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his wife Coretta Scott King, Dorothy Cotton, Jo Ann Robinson, Angela Davis, and many other civil rights leaders represent. It is my dream to see the university that I love and appreciate choose to step-up and address equity and inclusion concerns head-on.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent leaders of the 60's may have started the Civil Rights Movement, but it's still not over - we are fighting for this movement today, tomorrow, and every day after that. We cannot and will not stop until true equity and inclusion has been achieved - not only at the campus level, but the community, state, and federal levels as well. Together, we can establish the foundation to acquire true change and contribute to the betterment of all - no matter one's background.
Statement from Crystal Egbo - Student Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council; Secretary, Black Student Union; MOSAIC Educator, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs; and Social Media Manager, Parkside Student Government
One of the most special things about Parkside is the diversity of its students. However, many of these students are underrepresented, working, living and studying in an inequitable climate. That is why the Student Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council was formed in the summer of 2020: to advocate for marginalized students on campus. My dream for Parkside is that we create a climate for everyone to thrive in. One that acknowledges inequities, cultural and racial divides, and underrepresentation and seeks to resolve these with unified action.
Moving forward, I’d like more student participation in SEDI. As times are extremely difficult, it’s taken a lot of work to connect with students but we’re hoping that we can continue to have a positive impact on student experiences. I also think it would be great to have equity training opportunities for SEDI members and the general student body. These trainings provide great insight into how we think and perceive and are necessary for the work the Council does.
SEDI is comprised of 18-20 students from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds who share the same goal of ensuring that all students voices and concerns are heard. We conduct monthly forums, in which Parkside students share issues that they would like to see resolved or acknowledged. After these concerns are shared with us, the Council crafts proposals, such as the proposal for the purpose of providing healthcare for students, advocating for these issues which are forwarded to the Administrative EDI Council.
Statement from Trina Patterson - Diversity and Inclusion Manager
The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion celebrates the life, legacy, and dream, of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although it has been nearly 58 years since his iconic, “I Have a Dream” speech, the demonstrations for racial justice and equality that have taken place over the past several months are a modern-day version of those he helped lead in the 1960’s. Sadly, people of color and those who are marginalized continue to fight for equitable opportunities and a seat at the decision-making table. Yes, it is imperative to keep Dr. King’s dream alive, but it is also imperative to do the necessary work to make the dream a reality.
The Office of EDI recognizes that as an institution of higher learning, now more than ever, we must remain steadfast in examining every aspect of our organization and asking ourselves, where have we missed the mark in advancing racial equity and inclusivity on campus; and what will we do to correct it? Our office, along with the support of the EDI Council, will work to ensure that equity, diversity, and inclusion are always considered, and woven into the fibers of our system and campus community. The Student Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council (SEDI) works in tandem with our office to advocate for underrepresented students who may be experiencing issues with bias or equity on campus .
Being the most diverse campus in the UW-System, we owe it to our students, faculty, and staff to foster an environment that is equitable and inclusive. EDI work is everyone's responsibility and by continuing to strengthen relationships with our campus partners, supporting equity training and development opportunities, along with community conversations about race, we are taking steps to do the necessary work to make the dream of justice, equity, and inclusivity at UW-Parkside a reality.
I hope you had a chance to reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during yesterday’s national holiday. I took time to reread Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech and reflect on how his words inspire our work as educators at UW-Parkside. Dr. King described the function of education as “…teaching one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
At UW-Parkside, thank you for focusing on teaching our students to think critically, to be curious, to question, to enrich their minds, to raise their voices, and to enhance their lives. Yes, our efforts will continue to inspire leaders of quality and character.
These are indeed unprecedented times as we continue to cope with COVID-19, confront social injustice and fight for racial equity, as well as face unsettling challenges to our democracy. Tomorrow, President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated and has outlined ambitious plans to fight COVID-19, to stimulate the economy and to support higher education. I, along with members of the chancellor’s cabinet, will monitor these developments and provide updates to the campus.
In spite of the challenges, our students continue to lead and pay it forward for the next generation. A special thanks to our Black Student Union for joining with students from UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and Carthage College to lead a virtual community conversation in the Young Adult Symposium on social justice and civil rights as part of the Racine 2nd Annual MLK Creative Day of Service held yesterday. Thank you for modeling the way as leaders of character!
Last, I invite you to join with our partners in Kenosha as we celebrate the 25th Annual Kindness Week. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Let’s keep moving our campus, our community, and our nation forward. It will take all of us, and our lives will be enriched as we share our hearts and minds with one another and with our neighbors. Be kind this week!