WBAY-TV2 is advancing the conversation about race in Northeast Wisconsin. Alexandra Ritchie works in higher education, in the admissions office at UW-Green Bay. Earlier this year following social justice protests, Ritchie penned a letter to her colleagues about issues of race, and ways that UWGB could have an impact on the entire student body. Ritchie speaks about the ways she believes educators can, and should, lead the way to provide opportunities for all students. See Power 2 Change: Alexandra Ritchie.
In this open letter to her campus colleagues, Marketing and Communications Recruitment Coordinator in UW-Green Bay’s Office of Admissions, Alexandra Ritchie expresses her personal pain over hate, stereotyping and the devastating actions leading to recent marches and protests across the nation.
She, and others, call on the UW-Green Bay campus community to seek understanding, serve as allies, and demand that as a campus, we do better, as Chancellor Alexander has requested from the four-campus community. Ritchie is working with the personnel across campus to compile a list of resources that help educate and motivate.
My first encounter with racism came in the first grade. A group of classmates staged a boycott of chocolate milk during lunches because it was “gross” like the color of my skin. I didn’t even know I was any different. Sure, by first grade those kids may have already been taught their biases from parents or other family members, but they were also born into a society that prioritizes white bodies and demotes ‘otherness’ to second-class. My otherness.
I’m tired of being tired.
Our unfair systems have deemed United States a level playing ground. In reality, Black people have been chained to the starting line, centuries behind the lead. When the shackles came off on Juneteenth we were suddenly supposed to be able to compete? The Civil Rights movement brought about change on paper, but how much change actually occurred in the hearts and minds of those in power? What systems were deconstructed and reconstructed to have us all starting in the same spot?
Systemic racism is hard to break, but it’s even harder to bear. The not-so-funny thing about racism is that the oppressed can’t always make the change; sometimes we can only demand it. After all, what oppressor listens to the oppressed? We need allies. When Black people and other persons of color ask for allies, we aren’t just asking for well-intentioned people to ask how we’re doing. We aren’t asking for people to be colorblind. We aren’t asking for a white body to be a megaphone for our anguish. We aren’t asking you to argue on Facebook with your racist uncle. All these things could help, but we’re really asking for you to educate yourself, embrace our differences, occupy the spaces that we haven’t been permitted in for over 400 years, and go to war destroying those systems that continually put a proverbial knee to our necks. If you aren’t uncomfortable, you’re doing it wrong.
Part of educating yourself is understanding your individual privilege. Privilege shouldn’t be a scary word or insult, and it’s not just for white people. Privilege doesn’t mean that you haven’t fallen on hard times. It’s an honest reflection of things to be grateful for, things that you have no control over that make your life even a fraction easier. Analyzing and accepting privilege is the first step to better understanding what systems you’re benefitting from that marginalized groups may not be. Those working in education are not only tasked with continually evaluating their own biases and privileges, but also imparting the knowledge of past generations onto the next, helping them develop critical thinking skills and inspiring a strong value system. Unfortunately, education itself, especially higher education, can also be a privilege.
So, how do we as a UW-Green Bay community fix that? Well, it starts internally, and it’s not just about not being racist. It’s about being anti-racist. We’re no longer just talking about individuals, we’re looking at the systems. Try need-based scholarships instead of merit-based. Fill courses with real-world applications for all walks of life. Provide access to resources to support all students, no matter their intersectionalities. Take care of the whole student. The whole staff. The whole faculty. Once we’ve established our internal anti-racism reform, we have to continue that trajectory into the rest of our community. And that starts with divesting from partners or companies who don’t hold the same anti-racism values as us. We can’t and won’t tolerate it.
Lord knows I don’t have all the answers, but to me, the goal should never be diversity. Diversity feels like a check box that we have to tick rather than the leveling the playing field. What I’m striving for is inclusion and equity. I want a UW-Green Bay that gives everyone a seat at the table, a voice, and the opportunity to shatter societal limitations and create the community and country that we so rightfully deserve. And we’re well on our way.
From the moment I interviewed at UW-Green Bay, I knew this place was different. The care and tenacity are unmatched. There’s a strong willingness to do what’s right, even if it’s unconventional or goes against what everyone else is doing. Every day I see the inner workings, the strides being taken and the leaders pushing the envelope. This place is unapologetically itself, and that’s just the kind of place to unleash a revolution.
Watch us rise.
UW-Green Bay Chancellor Mike Alexander and his Cabinet sent this message to students earlier today, June 4, 2020.
Dear UW-Green Bay Students,
I have been personally struggling over the tragic loss of life of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery in recent weeks. However, I realize that these are just the last three names that we know about among the countless number of people who have suffered from racist acts. I want to be unequivocal that as a university we will not permit any acts of intolerance, bias, or racism.
Today, I sent an email to the faculty and staff challenging us to do better as a university to play a leading role in creating a more equitable, just, and inclusive society. We are unified as campus leadership that we can and must take immediate steps to make sure our actions reflect our words. To that end, all members of the University Cabinet have signed this email with me. It is essential that we empower our students to bring about positive change in our communities. As students begin to return to campus, we will organize listening sessions to understand from your perspective what we can do better and to inform you of the changes we are making.
We know many of you are struggling. We hear you, are here for you, and support your efforts to make your voices heard. We will do better.
Michael Alexander, Chancellor
Kate Burns, Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost
Janet Bonkowski, Executive Director, Marketing & Communications
Charles Guthrie, Director of Athletics
Ben Joniaux, Chief of Staff
Gail Sims-Aubert, Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs & Campus Climate
Sheryl Van Gruensven, Senior Vice Chancellor for Institutional Strategy
Tony Werner, Vice Chancellor for University Advancement
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – Action 2 News looked beyond the scope of a protest, learning why or even how it can sometimes go from peaceful to violent. UW-Green Bay psychology professor Ryan Martin researches and writes on healthy and unhealthy expressions of anger. “When you think about the model and why people become angry, it’s always because of a provocation, coupled with our mood at the time of that provocation, along with our interpretation of that provocation,” said Professor Martin who is also associate dean for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at UWGB.
Students and staff at the Pride Center created a 120-page yearbook as a replacement for the Lavender Graduation. Take a look at the 2019.2020 Yearbook.
Associate Prof. Christin DePouw (Education) and Assistant Prof. Miranda Schornack (Education) have been awarded $32,000 through a UW System grant for inclusive excellence. The grant supports professional development for educators at UW-Green Bay and Green Bay Area Public Schools (GBAPS) around culturally responsive pedagogy and equity-minded educators. The professional development seminars will take place during the 2020-2021 academic year.
The Level 2 training for the Inclusivity and Equity Certificate Program is taking place on March 4, 2020 from 10 a.m. to noon in the World Unity B Room in the University Union, Green Bay Campus. Inclusivity and Equity Certificate Program Level 2 is a focused training and discussion with employees who wish to complete a Level 2 certificate to demonstrate the ability to identify, take responsibility and follow through with their ideas for change that foster inclusivity at UWGB. Participants need to have received the Inclusivity and Equity Certificate Program Level 1 award to participate. Please contact Stacie Christian at email@example.com for more information.
Inclusive Excellence is hosting a guest panel addressing “Caregiving for Alzheimer’s.” Tammy Olp (University Union), Rob Sutherland, Theresa Weise (Health and Counseling), Sara Chaloupka (University Union) and Vicki Chaloupka will share caregiving experiences, book reviews and information about hippotherapy as it pertains to Alzheimer’s caregiving. The event is free and open to the public on Friday, Nov. 15, noon to 1 p.m., in the Christie Theatre. If you have a disability and would like to discuss accommodation, please contact Stacie Christian at 920-465-2167.
St. Norbert, UW-Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and the Green Bay Area Public School District (SING) is hosting a Summer Professionals of Color Family Day, Friday, August 23, 2019 at Bay Beach Amusement Park (Main Pavilion) from 2 to 5 p.m. Employees of color and family members from the four educational institutions, are invited to enjoy the fun with outdoor games, attractions, food and drink, and a live DJ. Please RSVP with Stacie Christian at firstname.lastname@example.org.