UW students take opposition of white nationalist group to Chancellor Blank

MADISON (WKOW) -- Students at UW-Madison are standing up to university leaders, demanding action after another student tried to start a white nationalist group on campus.

A group rallied Tuesday night at Library Mall, marching up to Bascom Hill. This is a response to news last week that UW student Daniel Dropik wanted to start a Madison chapter of the American Freedom Party, which he describes as an alt-right group.Students, who formed a group called Student Coalition for Progress, say there's no place for something like that on campus.

"We were really upset that this white nationalist group even decided to come and form on campus, that's just absolutely appalling," says Kelly Ward, a UW senior. The demonstrators drew a coalition of organizations in the greater Madison community to join in the fight. "History has shown that white supremacist organizations, when they are allowed to organize in public, tend to bloom and grow, so the idea is we nip it in the bud as soon as possible," says Liam Manjon, with the General Defense Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World.

The students say they're also upset with how Chancellor Rebecca Blank responded to the news. She called for a review of a UW System policy that keeps the university from checking a college applicant's criminal background, after she found out Dropik was previously convicted of hate crimes.Blank spoke with student government leaders last night who had questions about this, at a pre-scheduled meeting.  "I am at best proposing that students self-reveal, particularly if they have a felony history, and what we do with that? I don't have a specific proposal," she says. "Maybe the end decision will be maybe we don't do anything with it, we keep the current policy. I just think we ought to have the conversation because I can think of a number of situations where both students and other stakeholders would think we ought to know that."Students who attended the meeting say they had hoped not to hear the same message from Blank that they saw in her initial letter to the campus community on the issue."[Blank] was saying it was simply a political ideology and that concerns me because those remarks and [Dropik's] attempts are trying to mandate ethnic cleansing and essentially genocide of students of color," says Sam Park, a UW junior. "So to hear that again from her was very disappointing and I think that was well said by many students."

Students say they also wanted to hear the chancellor completely denounce the group, but she says unless political free speech turns violent, it's allowed on campus based on university policy on free speech.

For more on this story: http://www.wkow.com/story/34395319/2017/01/31/uw-students-take-opposition-of-white-nationalist-group-to-chancellor-blank

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