Responding to Ferguson and Staten Island

The recent grand jury verdicts in Ferguson, Missouri, and in Staten Island have raised questions and concerns among many in the University of Wisconsin-Madison community, as they have nationwide.

It is easy for some of us to think briefly about these incidents and move on. That is not the case for others on this campus, who encounter subtle and less subtle examples of intolerance on a regular basis.

I am proud of those students, faculty and staff who have spoken out about their concerns, continuing UW’s long tradition of activism. They have done so with civility and respect, even when confronted with inappropriate and hurtful responses.

We will be discussing these issues in several different forums in the near future and some of these conversations have already begun. These events will be most effective if they draw in more than simply those who have attended in the past. If you haven’t already done so, please consider adding your voice to this discussion.

The writer and scholar bell hooks, who earned a degree from this university in 1976, writes, “All too often we think of community in terms of being with folks like ourselves: the same class, same race, same ethnicity, same social standing and the like… I think we need to be wary: we need to work against the danger of evoking something that we don’t challenge ourselves to actually practice.”

I encourage all members of the UW-Madison community to take time to support each other in this busy, stressful season. And remember that many campus resources are available to help.