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Congratulations to the class of 2023!

We especially want to celebrate the student-parents and the “non-traditional” students who have completed their studies. Regardless of how long it took to get to this point, know that, by your achievement, you are setting a powerful example for your families and communities about the importance of persistence and support.

WLRC also applauds the graduating classes of Black StudiesGender & Women’s Studies (which held its end-of-year event in our space on April 27), and the Global Asian Studies program which graduated its first cohort of majors!

As I watch the growing movement against banned books growing in the U.S., I hope that our students can see how their UIC education—both in and outside of the classroom—has prepared them to engage with the larger political and cultural forces that seek to deny access to knowledge. The books that are being targeted? They are about the experiences of the very same historically marginalized groups to which most of our students belong. Illinois does have pending legislation to prohibit the banning of books in the state, thanks to the work of leaders like Chicago’s own Tracie Hall, Executive Director of the American Library Association. But the work does not end there, and we hope that our new alumni get involved.

And as legislative efforts continue to expand to deny transgender citizens the right to bodily autonomy and full participation, I hope that being educated at a diverse institution where commitment to social justice is part of our shared vocabulary has left an indelible mark on our students. As they go on to work for and become policymakers, practitioners, scholars, and movement builders, may they always bring UIC’s values into every room they enter.

Now that grades have been turned in, books have been returned to the library, desks cleared and the summer session has begun, WLRC pivots to its summer schedule. The center will be open by appointment; center staff will be available to answer questions, do consultations, and respond to advocacy needs both virtually and in-person as needed. We return to full operations in August.

I hope that your summer reading lists contain as many banned books as possible. If you have not already read them, check out Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer. In addition to Kobabe’s book, I plan to read Christina Sharpe’s In The Wake and Hafizah Augustus Geter’s memoir The Black Period.

This last newsletter for the semester contains reflections on our semester-long approach to The Clothesline Project. I hope you find it inspiring and useful, as our students aim to make sense of their experiences in helping to shape the programs offered by WLRC. We welcome your thoughts, ideas, and responses to anything that you encounter here.

Until next time, take good care of yourself and each other,

Natalie Bennett