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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 21, 2022

Multicultural Student Center criticized for racially separated meetings

UW-Madison’s Multicultural Student Center received criticism for offering separate discussion groups for white and minority students and staff in the Red Gym Monday evening.

The MSC offered four meetings: two for white students and staff, and two for students and staff of color.

“The sessions were offered this way at the request of participants to give them a space to express feelings without the fear of being judged,” UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said in a statement. “Our students of color often find such spaces hard to come by. It is a best practice in student affairs to allow quiet and reflective space for those who request it.”

The meetings provided individuals with an outlet to talk about their emotions regarding events of the previous week involving race, including the death of two black men at the hands of police officers in suburban St. Paul, Minn. and Baton Rouge, La. A Conservative national news source, The Daily Caller, and a website, Right Wisconsin, commented on the “irony” of separating racial groups to discuss these particular topics.

The Daily Caller article said UW-Madison has been “overtly supportive of Black Lives Matter and its goals.” The photo in the article features an old sign with an arrow pointing toward a “colored waiting room” and repeatedly calls the MSC meetings “segregated.”

“It's a bit off-putting to hear that news outlets are upset about the MSC holding separate meetings based on race,” Wisconsin Black Student Union President Marquise Mays said in a statement. “That is not segregation, it is actually providing the appropriate healing for the variety of communities that have attended.”

McGlone said in the statement the university recognizes that they could have communicated details of the event more clearly to avoid “any impression of exclusion.”

“No one was turned away from any session,” McGlone said. “There was no requirement for students to meet with their identified race.”

McGlone said in the statement the university has offered similar public forums related to diversity and campus climate for the past two years and will continue to do so. “These forums are broadly inclusive and give members of our community the chance to discuss issues and concerns,” McGlone said.

Mays said in his statement that he thinks the separate meetings were necessary for students of color to adequately heal from the trauma of recent events.

“Way too often students of color are asked to compromise their spaces because it is not inclusive of white students,” Mays said. “Well, UW is not really inclusive of students of color, so fostering and creating these spaces are near and dear to our communities.”

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