Changing the Narrative conference

United Common Ground hosts its 3rd annual event



Masood Akhtar was one of the panelists at the Changing the Narrative conference who spoke about the “We are Many United Against Hate” movement. The conference was held on Nov. 22 at the Intercultural Exchange at the Truax Campus.

Amara Gobermann, Managing Editor

Social change is inevitable in this generation of progressives, which is why Madison College’s United Common Ground continues to work towards changing the narrative.

On Nov. 22, the United Common Ground student organization hosted the third annual Changing the Narrative event.

There was a keynote presentation by Dr. Courtney L. Luedke. They also had three guest speakers for a panel: Masood Akhtar, an activist for minorities; Mike Palm, the mayor of Baraboo;  and Lori Mueller, the administrator of the Baraboo school district.

Dr. Luedke spoke about our minorities fighting for an equitable experience on college campuses.

As she spoke, she had the audience interact with her and with each other. She asked thought provoking questions like, “What is activism to you?”

Usually we think of protesting when we think of activism, but Dr. Luedke and the audience mentioned how multiple things can be activism. Things like speaking up in situations where someone is saying something derogatory, or asking more questions to our everyday norms, or even joining or creating a student government.

Luedke believes that the power of the youth voice should be heard, and we need to be holding staff and faculty accountable when equitability is not happening.

Dr. Luedke also advocated for the students who are willing to share their voice, bringing attention to the fact that this also counts as an extra barrier people of color choose to take on.

We should take the information and help that students give, but we cannot abuse their labor.

At the end of the keynote, Luedke asked these questions to prompt some self-reflection. She wants students to think about where they need support, what role they play in their own success, who else plays a role in their success, and what is self-care?

Panelist Masood Akhtar spoke about how the movement “We are Many United Against Hate” got started.

Akhtar wants to bring attention to the misconceptions that are put on Islam and on Muslims. In the media, they choose to use the word terrorist, even when the percent of white men doing mass shootings is higher than Muslims doing terrorist acts.

He specifically wants to change the narrative that Muslims and Islam teaches terrorism.