Tuesday, February 4, 2014

University YMCA Statement of Support for Chancellor Wise

As statements are written in broad support of Chancellor Wise and the need for open dialogue and action across campus is rightly being voiced, let us remember that we do not defend the sexually oppressed, indigenous people, and people of color against bigotry as we should. The University YMCA would like to take this opportunity to not only state our support of Chancellor Wise, but to re-emphasize our commitment to diversity and inclusion in all that we do as members of the campus and community.

It is our hope that as an organization that has a 141 year history in enacting change at the University of Illinois that the public outcry against intolerance will not fade until our campus understands that acceptance must be demanded universally, not on a case-by- case basis.  The hate speech directed towards Chancellor Wise is disturbing, disgraceful, and infuriating, but not an anomaly. We cannot continue to treat discrimination as the cause of a smattering of bigots across the physical and digital landscape.

We will not in the face of structural racism accept pithy slogans about freedom of speech. We need to support the true definition of freedom, which must not be based on continued oppression of historically oppressed peoples. At the University YMCA, our goals are clear: to make the University Y and its programs not only as welcoming as possible to people of all backgrounds, but to multicultural and anti-sexist coalition-building.

We have agreed that diversity should be evinced as we consider our constituencies from many points of reference, including, religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and political outlook. But, most importantly, for real change to happen, we have realized and committed ourselves as an organization to uplift the societal vantage point of the oppressed, not-so-public figures of our campus and community members who, through their everyday experiences of exclusion, can best guide us in this coalition-building.

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