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WTCS Commitment to Progress

Our nation and state are breaking under the weight of systemic racism, inequality, fear and all the ways in which humans do not treat each other humanely. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers – in combination with a pattern of other officer-involved deaths and racialized incidents, and the harsh toll of the pandemic on people of color in general and black communities specifically – has brought communities across Wisconsin and the world to another, overdue moment of tense reckoning. These profoundly disheartening events must be a call to action for technical college leaders, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as System leaders and staff. As educators and learners, we embrace our responsibility and capacity to create inclusive, genuine spaces and systems that support equity.

Each year, Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges welcome to campus more than 20,000 black students. We are proud of the opportunities we provide and the progress we are making to support the success of all our students. And yet, we must continuously improve campus climate and equity in outcomes. We, like many, also must work harder in our hiring practices to assure the diversity of our faculty, staff, and leadership, and then to support each other as colleagues.

Unique to us, Wisconsin’s technical colleges also provide initial training for many of Wisconsin’s law enforcement officers, who serve under increasingly complex conditions. As many chiefs of police throughout Wisconsin and the U. S. have recognized, however, this complexity can never excuse the unspeakable abuse of authority witnessed too often, and disproportionately by black citizens and communities of color.

We stand with black citizens who are hurting badly. We stand with diverse communities who, with loved ones and supporters, are raising their voices in justified anguish and anger. We stand with our law enforcement faculty, students and graduates who chose a law enforcement career for the right reasons and risk their safety to protect and serve Wisconsin communities. We stand firmly against racism, discrimination, oppression, and exclusion of all types. And we stand against damage to property, livelihoods and communities by a disconnected few.

Mr. Floyd’s death, like other horrific moments in our collective history, inspires us to consider what we can do to make positive change. The answer will be different for each of us.

The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) is committed to creating safe spaces to support our students and colleagues who are suffering; training future law enforcement officers who are prepared to do an increasingly complex, demanding job with compassion, courage and humanity; delivering educational pathways to economic opportunity for all; and raising our collective voices to oppose injustice in all of its forms. Together, we have the power to create a more inclusive and equitable society for each other and for the future.