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Diversity forum tackles advocacy issues

By: Jack Zeller /The Daily Cardinal




20071011_news_diversity_story
By: Isabel Alvarez /The Daily Cardinal
Multiple UW-Madison student organizations discussed Jena 6 and other topics Wednesday night at Science Hall

Representatives from multiple student organizations addressed a packed lecture hall Wednesday night to highlight campus diversity issues and organize a response to the upcoming campus visit of David Horowitz, a controversial conservative speaker.

Members of the Wisconsin Black Student Union, Multicultural Student Coalition, Muslim Student Association and International Socialist Organization spoke about a range of issues including the Jena 6 controversy, the under-representation of minorities on campus and the racial climate at UW-Madison.

WBSU member Ingrid Smith said the recent Jena 6 march on campus was a testament to the solidarity of the black community on campus.

“On this campus, diversity is a separate discussion from other issues at hand,” she said. “When we marched for the Jena 6, we have to realize that we weren’t just marching for those six boys, but we were marching for ourselves.”

Smith also addressed issues of social segregation between racial and ethnic groups and stressed the need for the university and its students to discuss these concerns.

In addition, the forum discussed the upcoming campus visit by speaker David Horowitz.

Horowitz, a conservative activist and author, has generated nationwide controversy for his support of Islamo-Facism Awareness Week, a conservative initiative that is described as “the biggest conservative campus protest ever,” by the Terrorism Awareness Project’s web page.

The initiative is set for Oct. 22-26, with events on over 200 college campuses nationwide to raise awareness of what supporters say are abusive and excessively violent Islamic governments.

The methods by which students will challenge Horowitz’s presence on campus were hotly debated among the different student organizations.

ISO member Paul Heideman said Horowitz’s message is “hate speech” and UW students should loudly oppose his presence on campus before and during his presentation.

MSA, however, stressed a more respectful and diplomatic method for showing student reaction to the event.

Sabih Khwaja said the MSA does not intend to disrupt Horowitz during his presentation, but rather gather respectfully but noticeably at the speech and confront Horowitz with questions afterward.

Katrina Flores, a MCSC executive staff member, expressed her satisfaction with the meeting, despite its variety of issues.

“I think tonight was good,” she said. “We can be frustrated, and at times we should, but if we stay there, then it never amounts to action. I think that was clear today, that people are ready to move.”




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