Education

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank Calls Protest Demands Unreasonable

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank says a list of demands from campus protesters relating to the recent arrest of a student are unreasonable.

The demands come in response to criminal charges against UW senior Denzel McDonald, who goes by the name King Shabazz. Shabazz was pulled out of class by campus police officers and arrested last week, accused of spraypainting anti-racist messages on several campus buildings. 

After staging a walkout Thursday, student activists posted demands calling for the charges be dropped, that Shabazz be allowed to graduate in May and that Chancellor Rebecca Blank and members of the UW Police Department resign. Protesters also called for a restructuring of the campus Police Department so students and staff could have greater voice in how it operates.

In a statement, Blank dismissed the demands: “Embedded in the student demands are requests for actions that I do not believe are reasonable, or even lawful, for me to take. In fact, several of the demands seek to apply authority that the university does not have under state law or UW System policies and procedures,” wrote Blank. 

Mike Davis is an activist with the Black Liberation Action Coalition. He helped write the demands. 

“I think it was problematic that she didn’t reach out to us, she didn’t attempt to talk to us about the possibility of pleading our demands,” Davis said of Blank. “I don’t think the inclusion of student voice is unreasonable. I don’t think us asking that King is able to graduate in May after he worked so hard is unreasonable.”

In her statement, Blank said the university will follow protocol for race related incidents established earlier this year.