At a gathering hosted by the Multicultural Student Center Saturday, more than 50 UW-Madison community members sat in a circle with bowed heads, sharing a moment of silence for Tony Robinson.
The event was one of various reactions in response to Friday’s officer-involved fatal shooting of the black teenager.
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and other campus officials offered support to Robinson’s family and friends, as well as the community, in an email to students.
“As the leadership of the UW community, it’s our goal to provide a forum for students, faculty and staff to make their voices heard and to provide support and resources,” Blank wrote.
Attendees at the MSC event shared their levels of understanding and came together to process the recent shooting, something MSC Assistant Dean and Director Joshua Moon Johnson said is important in grieving.
“It is our job to provide this space of support for people to talk about these things, even if they don’t even know what they want to talk about,” Moon Johnson said. “Having that space just to vent is beneficial for people’s mental wellness.”
While participants vented, furrowed eyebrows hid welling tears. Many brought up their similarities to victims of racial violence and acknowledged that they could be next.
University faculty, including Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students Lori Berquam and Interim Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate Patrick Sims, attended the event to advocate for student support services and encourage open communication.
“I’m here in solidarity to show support for our students, not just students of color but all students,” Sims said. “The journey that we have is not in isolation. It’s a journey that we walk together.”
Freshman Gabrielle Tielman-Fenelus was one of many UW-Madison students that expressed frustration at the apparent apathy on campus surrounding racial injustice.
“I think that the UW community as a whole should be a lot more accepting of racial differences instead of trying to shy away from the realities that surround racism here on campus,” Tielman-Fenelus said. “By ignoring the problem, you are making it seem as though the problem doesn’t exist when people all around campus are affected by it daily.”