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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

UW-Madison investigating incident of discrimination where three students were spat on, pushed

University Housing is leading an investigation into an incident of discrimination that occurred early Saturday morning in Sellery residence hall, according to an email sent to First Wave Scholars from Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Patrick Sims.

A student reportedly pushed three residents of Sellery Hall at roughly 2 a.m. The aggressor also spat on one of the students, according to an email sent to Sellery Hall residents later Saturday morning.

No further details of the incident have been provided yet, but the email from Sims said the incident “affected the First Wave community.”

UWPD has already issued underage possession of alcohol and disorderly conduct citations to students involved in the incident. According to UWPD Public Information Officer Marc Lovicott, the investigation is still ongoing and the aggressor could potentially be charged with a hate crime because of the language used during the altercation.

Vice Provost and Dean of Students Lori Berquam said she has been in communication with a wide range of students, organizations and faculty members about recent incidents and culturally competency on campus.

“I hear the pain, I’m hearing the hurt,” Berquam said. “I’m hearing the the lack of understanding about other, about cultural difference, about marginalization. All of those things are really concerning to me.”

The Division of Diversity Equity and Educational Achievement, UWPD, the Dean of Students Office and the Hate and Bias Incident Response Team are also involved in gathering more information on the incident, according to the email.

The Saturday instance of discrimination closely follows university investigations into both the January anti-Semitic incident in Sellery residence hall and the mocking of Native American students outside of Dejope residence hall March 9.

Berquam said the recent incidents of discrimination regarding racial, socioeconomic and religious differences are extremely concerning for the UW-Madison community.

“I’m really worried that we are not a campus that is very welcoming, and we’re a campus that is not very inclusive,” Berquam said.

A campuswide message addressing these recent instances of discrimination is expected to come next week, according to the email. A community conversation for Sellery Hall residents will also be held early next week.

Berquam said the entire UW-Madison community needs to have further dialogues regarding the recent incidents, and she urged any students with ideas on how to best address and prevent further incidents of bias to contact

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UPDATE March 13, 1:50 p.m.: This story has been updated to include further information regarding the incident and university response. 

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