Milwaukee, WI – A spirited group of more two dozen student protesters gathered outside the Golda Meir Library on the afternoon of November 15 for a rally called by UW-Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The assembled group chanted and heard speeches before beginning a march throughout campus.
The march took them to the campus administration building where additional speeches were given. The march, which grew in size as it wound through the buildings and residential halls, ended back at the library with a call for those who attended to get involved.
The aim of the protest originally was to speak out against recent proposed changes to laws regulating financial aid to underserved student populations that were put forward by Wisconsin Republicans. The changes were proposed and subsequently approved by the Republican-dominated State Assembly in an effort to make higher education “color blind.”
“Do-nothings in the Wisconsin State Assembly have fought hard to cut funding for DEI in Wisconsin. DEI stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion, if you didn’t know, and if you spend enough time on campus, you know we could use a little more diversity. SDS sees it; we see the 6% Black student population here, in a city that is 40% Black. We should fix that right?” asked Kayla Patterson from UWM SDS.
Patterson continued, “Republicans say no. To them, DEI is a threat. Such a threat that pay raises are being withheld until DEI is thrown out system-wide. 34,000 employees’ money is at stake, just so Speaker Robin Vos can throw these temper tantrums. This is a petty war being waged and it is costing all of us opportunities – students and staff.”
But the scope of the action was expanded when National SDS made a call for a National Day of Action for Palestine as the genocide continues and the politicians in the U.S. continue to abet it. 11,000 Palestinians have been killed since the recent flare up in the on-going 75 year occupation.
Pro-Palestinian and anti-genocide student protesters and groups in the U.S. have also come under attack since October 7, chief among them being the Students for Justice in Palestine organization. Republican presidential candidate and current Florida governor Ron DeSantis shut down all chapters across Florida, and administrators at Columbia University in New York followed suit. Activists around the country have been targeted by law enforcement officers and violent Zionist counter-demonstrators.
“This discussion is not threatening. When we say ‘Free Palestine’ or ‘We charge you with genocide,’ these are not threats of violence. At worst, they are pleas and accusations. We are holding people accountable,” Patterson said. “And if our elected officials and UW administration find accountability scary, they need to take a good look in the mirror and reflect on what they see.”
UWM SDS was joined at the protest by members and leaders of the Muslim Student Association. They reaffirmed their commitment to both struggling for the rights of oppressed nationality students and also in combating the genocide that is being committed in Palestine and the repression faced by those who are standing on the right side of history.