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Monday, September 20, 2021

?“Moving Forward” event fosters campus conversation on race

Approximately 400 students, faculty and staff members took part in the “Moving Forward: Conversations on Racial and Ethnic Diversity” event Wednesday at Gordon Dining and Event Center.

Participants joined the conversation at different themed tables, including “Building Cultural Competency, Awareness and Capacity;” “Hate and Bias Incidents and Conflicts with Free Speech;” and “Admission and Recruitment of Underrepresented Groups.”

Each table was supplied with an overview of its theme, and 45 facilitators guided the conversation. Opinions, stories and concerns were shared among attendees, and participants brainstormed three “action steps” to resolve their table’s theme.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank, Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Patrick Sims and Vice Provost and Dean of Students Lori Berquam took part in discussions throughout the room, listening to the concerns and stories of different campus members.

“The solution to move forward includes the voices from everyone in this room,” Sims said.

After the dialogue, a question-and-answer panel was assembled and included Blank, Sims, Berquam, BlackOut member and All Minds Matter founder Tyriek Mack and ASM Equity and Inclusivity Committee Chair Mariam Coker.

“As vital as these conversations are, it’s more important to get involved,” Coker said. “Defend, support and assist students of color. Bring this conversation to other students.”

Mack advocated that people not only attend the events supporting minorities, but follow through with the message.

“It is not enough just to say you support students of color,” Mack said. “Students need to be that voice when the student of color isn’t around. Start standing up.”

UW-Madison junior Emily Nelis said she hopes UW officials listen to students and accomplish the outlined goals.

All questions and comments collected during the event will be posted on the Office of Equity and Diversity webpage, according to Coker. Assistant Dean of Students and Director Joshua Moon Johnson said more campus-wide conversations will take place addressing other diversity issues in the Madison area, including religion and sexuality. The Moving Forward conversations will also continue as an annual event, according to Johnson.

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