I’m a privileged white male university professor. As privileged as they come, really. My father was a professor of chemistry; my mother also has an advanced degree in chemistry. The jobs I’ve held have been more about personal fulfillment than money: dancer, dance teacher, secretary for intellectual property lawyers, research and teaching assistant, professor. People assume I know what I’m talking about, even if I’m in shorts and a t-shirt.
All that’s just to say that, when it comes to the ongoing hateful acts that have been happening at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I’m really the last one that you should be listening to. You should instead listen to UW students, such as the United Council of UW Students, who have submitted a list of 5 reasonable demands, or Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Patrick Sims, who made an important 8-min video in response to a recent hateful incident that you should now go away and watch (really, stop reading what I have to say and spend 8 minutes watching that video), or Chris Walker, Asst Prof in the dance department, who spoke movingly today at the UW-Madison Faculty Senate meeting about the shit that faculty and students of color have to put up with on campus.
Lot’s of crap has been happening in Wisconsin lately. My focus has been on what Scott Walker and company have been doing to the state and to the University of Wisconsin, most recently by making huge cuts to state support to the UW System and by weakening tenure and shared governance.
That’s all been an embarrassment, and depressing, but in comparison to the hateful racist shit that’s been happening on campus, and Vice Provost Sims reported that there have been >30 reported hate or bias incidents on campus this year, tenure and funding just don’t seem that important.
Chris Walker’s speech at the Faculty Senate today really hammered this home. As a black man on campus, he’s experienced a lot of shit: worse shit then we’re seeing in the papers. And if we don’t fix this, our students can’t be successful. We must fix this.
What can a biostatistics professor do? I’m open to suggestions.
But for now, I’ll follow Patrick Sims’s suggestion and start with one of the United Council of UW Students’ demands:
We demand that the University of Wisconsin System creates and enforces comprehensive racial awareness and inclusion curriculum and trainings throughout all 26 UW Institution departments, mandatory for all students, faculty, staff, campus & system administration, and regents. This curriculum and training must be vetted, maintained, and overseen by a board comprised of students, staff, and faculty of color.
I’ve written an email to the faculty in my department, asking that we, as a department, volunteer to participate in such racial awareness training:
Correction: There’s an error in my email; Chris Walker is Associate Professor, and has been for a couple of years.
Update: Chris Walker’s speech at the 4 Apr 2016 Faculty Senate meeting was recorded! Must listen.