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Monday, June 24, 2024

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UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone Apologizes But Doesn’t Withdraw Agreement

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UW-Milwaukee’s chancellor is apologizing for weighing in on geopolitical issues but isn’t withdrawing the controversial agreement that weighed in on geopolitical issues.

UW-Milwaukee’s Chancellor Mark Mone has apologized for the university’s decision to weigh in on “deeply complex geopolitical and historical issues.”

“It is clear to me that UWM should not have weighed in on deeply complex geopolitical and historical issues. And for that, I apologize,” Mone wrote in a public statement on May 21.

However, Mone’s statement does not say anything about withdrawing or negating the university’s controversial agreement with pro-Palestinian activists, which calls for a ceasefire, uses Hamas propaganda to accuse Israel of plausible genocide, and labels Israeli detainees (who include militants and terrorists) “hostages,” while demanding their release.

In other words, by not withdrawing the agreement, Mone is apologizing that the university weighed in on “deeply complex geopolitical and historical issues,” while allowing the document that does just that to stand. Furthermore, Mone is not the only person who signed the agreement; it was also signed by Provost Andrew Daire, Vice Chancellor for DEI Chia Vang, and Dean of Students Adam Jussel. The latest statement is in Mone’s name only.

Mark mone

“UWM said the terms of the deal remained intact,” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, quoting a university spokesperson as saying, “We are focused on moving forward. We are acknowledging the pain this caused for our Jewish community and that we should have been more explicit in our support for this community.”

“In recent days, I have heard from some on our campus and in our Jewish community that our response over the last few months to global events, local protests and the recent encampment left them feeling vulnerable, unsafe and unseen,” Mone wrote in the May 21 statement. “As a leader, educator and friend, this feedback has impacted me greatly.”

Mone’s apology comes after UWM’s decision to allow an anti-Israel encampment to remain on campus for two weeks draw sharp criticism, as did the university’s agreement ending that encampment. The encampment, encircled by a makeshift fence, contained examples of pro Oct. 7 and anti Israel propaganda. It’s not legal to camp on university property.

Three major Jewish organizations called on the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System “to immediately negate this (UWM) agreement and take the aggressive steps necessary to ensure Jewish – and all – students are able to attend UWM and all UW campuses without the threats of harassment, intimidation and hate just because of their identity.”

Mark mone

Wisconsin President Jay Rothman released his own statement, criticizing the UWM agreement and saying he was disappointed in it.

After Mone’s apology on May 21, Rothman wrote, “I appreciate that the chancellor reassessed his approach at UW-Milwaukee regarding the illegal encampments and issued a statement reflecting his apology. Chancellor Mone has dedicated his career to UWM, and I know he is committed to ensuring that all students feel equally welcome, safe, and supported as members of one UWM campus community.”

Wisconsin Right Now published a column by UWM Professor Shale Horowitz, who wrote, “UWM’s leadership supports an effort that can only succeed by killing and expelling Israel’s Jews.” WRN’s co-editor Jessica McBride, a UWM instructor, also penned a column in which she wrote, “The university should not pick a side… Because we all fund the state’s public university, they are essentially using their taxpayer-funded positions of state authority to argue for controversial foreign policy positions that many of us abhor. That’s wrong.”

In his May 21 statement, Mone wrote that, in recent days, “I have heard from some on our campus and in our Jewish community that our response over the last few months to global events, local protests and the recent encampment left them feeling vulnerable, unsafe and unseen. As a leader, educator and friend, this feedback has impacted me greatly.”

“It is clear to me that UWM should not have weighed in on deeply complex geopolitical and historical issues. And for that, I apologize. I acknowledge that it is an increasingly difficult time for many Jewish students at UWM and across America,” he wrote. “I’ve also heard that some students have not felt comfortable reporting their concerns or experiences. This distresses me. The expressions of grief and frustration over the conflict in the Middle East must not destabilize our shared sense of humanity or be twisted into a platform to spread hatred.”

Mone’s statement continued: “Let me be clear: UWM resolutely condemns antisemitism, just as we do Islamophobia and all other forms of hatred. Our campus must be a place that welcomes all students and the full expression of their history, culture, identity and ethnicity. But words alone cannot create the culture of inclusion we desire, which is why we must transform our words into commitment and action. This work will take time, as all hard work does, and it will also take the openness of our entire community.”

The statement concluded, “As we move forward, I am dedicated to continued listening, conversation and engagement with all our students. I recognize that students must first trust that we can better support them before they can feel comfortable sharing their concerns.”

He added, “The path ahead will be grounded in our guiding values. I reaffirm my personal commitment, and that of my leadership team, to advancing an inclusive campus where every student can succeed. I hope you will join me in this work.”

The Journal Sentinel reported that “pro Palestinian groups” slammed the criticism of the agreement as a “new McCarthyism on campus,” saying critics are using “false allegations of antisemitism to shut down the legitimate claims and gains of Palestine solidarity activism on campus.”

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“I’m proposing today to go two steps further with two important goals: the first, to audit MPS’ programs and operations in their entirety, and the second, to audit the effectiveness of teaching and instruction of our kids in classrooms across the district,” Evers said.

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Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said that’d be a mistake.

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