Student senators call for KAM’s to take action

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Illinois Student Government meets at the Illini Union on Oct. 30.

By YooJin Son, Assistant News Editor

Illinois Student Government senators called for change and action from KAM’s management after the unanimous passing of Resolution 3.69: Statement on Anti-Hispanic and/or Latinx Racism on UIUC Campus, Wednesday night.

The resolution rose after screenshots of private group chat messages between KAM’s employees leaked on Twitter Monday. ISG’s statement recognizes that the leaked group chat “implicates Kam’s employees in anti-Hispanic racism.”

KAM’s released a statement on Instagram Wednesday afternoon stating, “KAM’s has taken action to terminate this employee as his statements in no way represent KAM’S views of the solidarity of the university community as one regardless of race, color, or creed.”

ISG’s resolution, however, calls for KAM’s management to enforce repercussions for these actions for all employees, individuals involved.

“They just highlighted one isolated incident and this is happening again and again and again. This just happened to get sensationalized,” said Christopher Ackerman-Avila, student senator for FAA. “They need to address their systemic and repetitive offenses that they’re doing to Latino students.”

With each ‘like’ to the Instagram post, Alexis Perezchica, student senator from LAS and Chair of Campus Affairs, said the issue was reduced smaller than reality. Yet support on Twitter and other social media platforms from allies show that the behavior seen in the screenshots is not condoned at the University.

Arnoldo Ayala, student senator from LAS and Speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate, said these microaggressions can lead to issues including mental health problems. Addressing the repeated microaggressions experienced on campus was emphasized at the ISG meeting in hopes that they stop.

“We’re hoping that KAM’s either retracts its statement or add on to the statement and doesn’t just simply oust to one student who participated in these actions because we said microaggressions are really important,” Ayala said. “So simply just liking (KAM’s statement), that’s simply saying, ‘oh well, we’ll send them upstairs,’ that kind of stuff. Even though that might be taken out of context, it can still be seen in a really negative light. And it’s a microaggression for some people.”

The resolution addresses previous issues regarding the bars owned by Scott Cochrane denying entry to “Hispanic individuals with an Illinois Temporary Visitor Driver’s License or a Puerto Rico license.” Ane Icardo Isasa, fifth-year Ph.D. student and graduate senator, questioned the reasoning behind the bars’ decisions. 

“For example, this student from Puerto Rico can fly here without a license, but cannot get into Lion?” Icardo Isasa said. 

KAM’s opened at its new location early February, with the move came a mural of the controversial Illini Chief taking space at their remodeled bar.

“The simple fact that with the new remodeling of KAM’s … still having images of the Chief and a whole mural dedicated to the Chief on its own shows how much the institution doesn’t really care about race or any race issues or ethnic issues. And so we’re bringing this to light because as a student body, we’re tired, exhausted of seeing all these racist caricatures and stereotypes against us being used against,” Ayala said.

The passed resolution translates as a statement itself as there are limitations to what student government can do considering KAM’s is not affiliated with the University. A statement by all Hispanic and Latinx senators represents that the student body does not condone discriminatory actions see in the group chat, Ayala said.

“I think that … a lot of people don’t want Latinos to be out there in public going to KAM’s and enjoying themselves, having leisure as they should be. And I told the Latino students to make themselves be seen on campus. Let them be loud. Let them show up. Let them know that we’re Latinos without shame,” Ackerman-Avila said.

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