Pre-Health & Pre-Law call for solidarity, support, and campus action
By now, you’ve likely heard about a circulating social media video of an extremely racist rant by an individual in our community. Much attention has been given to what actions can or cannot be taken against the individuals who said and encouraged these terrible things. This is necessary, and people need to be held accountable for their words and actions. Right now, it’s important that we turn our care and attention to those who continue to be most impacted by racism, to those who have been hurt by this video, and to what people can do to be allies in response to hate.
To the students and staff of color on this campus, we are incensed that these incidents continue to happen. In Pre-Professional Advising, which includes the Centers for Pre-Health & Pre-Law Advising, we will continue our mission to help increase diversity and equity in the fields of law and health. This work includes recognizing and working to disrupt the racism that negatively impacts the lives and learning of our advisees. As community members and advisors, we are here to listen to our colleagues and students. We will support you in finding whatever support may be needed to deal with very real anger and fear. In addition, we call on campus administration, faculty, instructional staff, supervisors, and all other colleagues to recognize through action and policy changes the disproportionate impacts of this week’s events (e.g. flexibility during finals, support to attend community gatherings, grading deadline shifts).
We want to also specifically highlight the efforts and energy of student leaders, such as within the Blk Pwr Coalition and Black Student Union, who are working hard – uncompensated – to push for needed changes and action. We will be listening and lifting up their voices within our areas of influence.
To those of us who do not know how to respond in the face of such blatant racism, now is the time to learn. When someone posts something biased, or says something racist, there are various ways to take action. The American Psychological Association notes these five steps in responding to an incident:
- Distract: Indirectly diffuse the situation by interrupting the harasser and the target (e.g. commotion, small talk, etc.).
- Delegate: Ask a third party for assistance in intervening, preferably an individual in a position of authority.
- Document: If it is safe to do so and someone is already helping the target, write notes or take a video of the discriminatory situation (permission to share the situation belongs to the target).
- Delay: Check in with the person who was discriminated against/harassed (e.g. support, offer assistance, etc.).
- Direct: If everyone is physically safe, speak firmly and clearly against the harassment/discrimination taking place (prioritize assisting the target over debating the harasser).
As a community, we must take responsibility for improving the campus environment. We can’t stay silent and watch incidents occur, hoping that they’ll work themselves out. We’ll need to commit to learning, growing, and intervening.
“Without systemic and structural-level change, health inequities will continue to exist, and the overall health of the nation will suffer,” Willarda V. Edwards, MD, MBA, American Medical Association Board of Trustees.
In Pre-Professional Advising, we understand that racism within the fields of health and law permeates every aspect of our lives. Anti-racist action and appropriate bystander intervention will be an important part of your career and professional development in the fields of health and law.
In solidarity and support,
Pre-Professional Advising, Centers for Pre-Health & Pre-Law Advising
In Solidarity & Action
Injustices and violence fueled by racism continue to be enacted across the country. These injustices highlight the shaky ground of white supremacy on which our nation and our legal system were founded. We want to be clear that at CPLA we remain committed to working towards justice and fighting racism within our realms of influence, including within ourselves as an advising team.
We know that many of you join us, and we call on many more to come along with us in taking personal action towards fighting racism. This very much includes listening and learning. We also know that many of you have been in this fight for your entire lives
BLACK LIVES MATTER. It is not just a slogan. It is a call to action. We stand in solidarity with all those rallying in so many ways to end police brutality, reform the criminal justice system and create a more just world. We stand for Jacob Blake, George Floyd, David McAtee, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Atatiana Jefferson, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Botham Jean, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald, Tony Robinson, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and so many others. We stand for all of YOU who face racism and bigotry during your experiences as a UW-Madison student and beyond.
Members of the legal profession have the privilege of standing on the front lines in the protection of our nation’s fundamental rights and freedoms. We must also hold ourselves accountable for our role in profiting from and perpetuating white supremacy and racist institutions. Our justice system is not just, a fact borne out by the lived experiences of our community members as well as extensive quantitative and qualitative data. We stand in solidarity with those rallying in a multitude of ways to end police brutality in our communities, reform the criminal justice system, and create a more just world.
Lawyers are integral to the protection of our constitutional rights and the process of reforming, reconstructing, and holding accountable our justice institutions. Our role at CPLA is to support aspiring attorneys by facilitating your exploration of law and guiding you through the law school application process. We are here for you. If you are considering law school, or are in the process of applying, you can make a remote appointment with our office at any time. We serve all students and alumni regardless of school or college and without a time limit.
Words cannot replace action. Those of us who are white need to do more than talk, think, and feel deep sadness over the loss of Black and Brown lives. We need to educate ourselves on the explicit and implicit racisms we enact every day. We need to advocate with and alongside people of color and work for sustainable change. Each of us can do something, and we all need to do more. Do it for the sake of justice and our common humanity. Do it because you would want someone to do it for you. Do it because it is the right thing to do.
Here are some resources to keep in mind as you navigate this time and beyond:
Stream to Donate (don’t skip ads)
The Center for Pre-Law Advising
“Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on.” The Honorable Thurgood Marshall, Civil Rights Attorney & First Black Supreme Court Justice