Oshkosh 94 sponsors scholarship

Sheila Knox

Sheila Knox

Josh Lehner, Staff Writer

A $1,750 scholarship partially funded by members of the Oshkosh 94 is being offered to one student next year who has continued efforts to improve African American students’ standing and experiences on campus.

The scholarship was created to commemorate “Black Thursday,” a 1968 protest at UW Oshkosh by African American students who demanded equal treatment and representation.

When the university president refused the students’ demands, they protested, and 94 students were expelled and suspended.

The scholarship was created in 2013 and initially funded by former UWO Chancellor Richard Wells.

Shortly afterward, members of the Oshkosh 94 began to provide their own funds to increase the award payout.

UWO Professor and scholarship committee co-chair Stephen Kercher said members of the Oshkosh 94 have expressed their desire to see the campus become a more welcoming place.

“The Oshkosh 94 invested something of their own lives in order to make UWO a more inclusive institution of higher learning,” he said. “By supporting the award they are continuing this commitment into the future and investing their hopes in the success of future students.”

Alphonso Simpson, Jr.,         also a committee member, said he is looking for an applicant who can “exemplify the standards, morals and grit” it takes to be a catalyst for change on campus.

“We want someone who is willing to put themselves forward, and who can articulate what it means to be a leader,” he said. “We want someone who is able to see the benefit of the sacrifice of the Oshkosh 94.”

Sheila Knox, a member of the Oshkosh 94 and the scholarship committee, said she is also looking for someone who exhibits leadership and who is forward-thinking.

“I’m looking for someone who is aware of the social climate and situations at the university and in Oshkosh, and who can speak up when things aren’t going right,” she said. “I want someone who can promote unity and gather students together to talk out problems, and who isn’t afraid to walk up to other students and help them.”

Knox drew from her experiences as a UWO student in the 1960s and said that she would have benefitted from a lot of the changes she expects in applicants.

“I didn’t have anyone to talk to as an African American student when I was attending UWO,” she said. “I could talk to other African American students but we were all new to Oshkosh at the time. I think I would have benefitted from having an African American counselor, African American textbooks, teachers and places to gather.”

Knox also said that she wants applicants to show that they have been a peer mentor or that they have the ability to do so.

“I want applicants who can make sure things are going well on campus and who can make sure that students are mentored,” she said.

The scholarship is available for all full-time UWO students with 45-89 credits completed and a 2.5 minimum cumulative GPA.

The scholarship’s deadline is Feb. 6, 2023, and the award will be paid out in Fall 2023.