Fall makes us think of transition, and cream city review is no stranger to change. Because the journal’s editorial and managerial operations are conducted solely by graduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, we often say goodbye to veteran staff and welcome new members to our team, and this year is no different. Although she is not listed on the masthead, Loretta McCormick, our former editor-in-chief, played a part in making this issue a reality. Poetry editors Tobias Wray and Soham Patel made the final selection of pieces for this issue, but they, too, have moved on, and we welcome Ae Hee Lee in their place. We have so much gratitude for our fellow students who work so hard each semester to create and produce a high-quality journal every time.
Change is nothing new for the University of Wisconsin System, either, and this season has brought a lot of it. There’s the surprise plan to restructure the system and merge smaller campuses with larger ones. And then there’s a new policy, approved in October, that allows the punishment and even suspension of students who engage in protests on any UW System campus. Regent Policy Document 4–21, called “Commitment to Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression,” states that “protests and demonstrations that materially and substantially disrupt the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity shall not be permitted and shall be subject to sanction.”
While the target of the new policy is, ostensibly, the spectre of violent protest against representatives from hate groups (and/or, more euphemistically, the “alt-right,”) who are appearing on college campuses with alarming and increasing frequency, [End Page 6] the idea that the new policy protects academic freedom and freedom of expression feels upside-down. Preemptively silencing student dissent with threats of expulsion is the very opposite of upholding the First Amendment. Citizens are protected from government persecution for their speech, not from the reaction of fellow citizens.
We find the new policy chilling. Disruption, here, lacks a definition, and we can’t help but wonder. Do our poems disrupt? Are our stories disorderly? Do they make Richard Spencer feel bad? We hope so. Art does many things, among them protest and disrupt. Art can and should push back against the very worst in our culture. Art can and should disrupt the status quo. It should not sit silently in the face of hate.
Mollie & Caleb [End Page 7]