Milwaukee, WI – 30 students, faculty and others attended a town hall meeting with the new Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Dr. Andrew Daire, at the Fireside Lounge on the campus of UW-Milwaukee (UWM) on October 31. Some of those in attendance were mobilized to the meeting by the UWM chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
The purpose of the talk was to present on the current enrollment situation at the university. Numbers have declined steadily since 2010 with nearly 7000 fewer students attending UWM in 2023 than a decade ago. One of the most glaring enrollment statistics is that UWM’s student body is only 6% Black. For context, Milwaukee has a population that is roughly 40% Black, and Milwaukee Public Schools has a student body which is 50% Black.
“The discrepancy between enrollment numbers of Black students at UWM and the population of Milwaukee and the public schools is despicable. It demonstrates that there is an overall lack of commitment from the administration at this university to live up to their claims of being a diverse and inclusive campus,” said Patricia Fish, a leader in SDS.
SDS members grilled the provost with questions about what he and the administration were going to do to address the situation, but Daire proved skillful in spending a lot of time saying nothing of substance and passing the buck on to others, claiming that he “has no power” to make the changes he wants.
The efforts around holding Daire’s feet to the fire are a part of SDS’s broader campaign to increase Black enrollment at UWM, which also includes demands around increasing the hiring of Black faculty and staff, the targeted recruitment of Black students from Milwaukee Public Schools, an increase in the scholarships and other financial aid offered to incoming students as well as for those students already attending UWM to assist with retention, and defending and expanding the funding for the Black Student Cultural Center.
Seattle, WA – On Thursday, October 5, the Progressive Student Union at the University of Washington held a rally to begin a campaign to increase enrollment of Black, Latino and native students at the university. Over 20 students gathered at the steps of Suzzallo Library to demonstrate their support for the demands.
Milwaukee, WI – On Thursday, September 14, UW-Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and supporting community organizations rallied together to demand justice for Déjah Welsh. Welsh is a Black former student who attended UWM in 2013. Like many students, she was struggling with mental health issues, and while having a mental health crisis, UWM police officers attacked her and nearly suffocated her to death. They only stopped when she said, “I don’t want to end up like Derek Williams.” Williams was suffocated to death in the back of a Milwaukee police squad car in 2011. Once they stopped, they put her in a mental health facility.
Tampa, FL – On July 2, students gathered at the gates of the on-campus residence for the president of the University of South Florida (USF) to demand that the university take measures to increase Black enrollment. Over the past 10 years, the percentage of Black students at the university has been on a steady decline, from a high of 12% a decade ago to the most recent report of 10%. But even the highest percentage is much lower than the demographics of the Tampa Bay area, in which Black people comprise nearly a quarter of the population.
Tampa, FL – On February 25, Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) held a Black Students Matter rally on campus to bring attention to the racist admissions practices that the administration at the University of South Florida (USF) engages in.
Tampa, FL – On November 20, students at the University of South Florida (USF) gathered in front of Cooper Hall to demand that administration increases Black enrollment on campus. Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) organized and led the demonstration.