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Beat back the bigots

By Kyle Myhre and Christopher Dols | September 27, 2002 | Page 10

MADISON, Wis.--In a show of support for their elected representatives, more than 150 students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus beat back an attack on two key student government positions.

The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) positions threatened were those of Jennifer Epps, the chair of the diversity committee, and Emily McWilliams, the ASM's vice chair. Several conservative ASM members attempted to impeach Epps, a biracial woman on the council, because she was "alienating white and conservative students." As the night proceeded, many students came to talk on Epps' behalf, showing these allegations to be ridiculous.

McWilliams, a lesbian in the second highest position on the council, was accused of organizing a September 11 vigil that was "unpatriotic" and not addressing the concerns of the "average student." But students who testified on her behalf showed that the conservatives targeting her for impeachment are the ones who are out of touch.

After the open forum in which the students and activists were allowed to speak, Steven Weiss--one of the resolution's primary supporters--stood up, said, "Frankly, you win," and left the room. Some ASM members later admitted that the attacks were "politically motivated."

Some former proponents of the resolution requested that their names be taken off, and in the end, both women were exonerated--followed by chants of "This is what democracy looks like!"

But this is only the beginning, as the same council is threatening many progressive and pro-diversity organizations with budget cuts. If we keep up the pressure, we'll win more victories!

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