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Monday, August 15, 2022

Sims seeks endorsement of diversity statement from governance groups

UW-Madison’s student government is the only shared governance group that has not yet endorsed the campus’s upcoming institutional diversity statement, which seeks to affirm the university’s commitment to diversity efforts.

Chief Diversity Officer Patrick Sims said having each of the four shared governance groups endorse the statement will give his office the momentum to move forward with the initiatives they are attempting to enact.

"We really wanted to have this statement as a way to represent that larger buy-in and commitment,” Sims said. “I see the campus statement as a way to galvanize all of the various efforts on campus that put us in a better position to create spaces of accountability."

The Faculty Senate, Academic Staff Assembly and University Staff Congress have already endorsed the statement. Sims also urged each group to pass a local resolution specific to their body to expand on their own diversity initiatives.

The Faculty Senate and Academic Staff Assembly have already passed their specific resolutions, while University Staff is still drafting theirs.

The Associated Students of Madison has not yet begun drafting its local resolution, according to Chair Carmen Goséy, because the group’s annual budget-planning process is currently taking precedent.

Sims said the drafting process for the five-sentence statement, which involved all of the shared governance groups, began in January 2016. He said he initiated this process because the university did, and does not currently have, “anything that affirmed what [its] commitment was." The statement was not finalized until nearly the end of the spring semester.

"We [drafted the statement] with the full support and buy-in from all of those governance groups,” Sims said. “When I brought that statement forward this fall, it was with that understanding."

ASM plans to discuss endorsing the statement at the Nov. 2 Student Council meeting. Goséy said she was not involved in the writing process, but she thinks the language is "just fine" and that it already has her personal endorsement.

"It's great; I love that the shared governance groups are committed to diversity,” Goséy said. “But I'm going to go ahead and be a little bit critical, though. It's very easy to say that you're committed to diversity and inclusion, but what are you doing to commit to that?"

Goséy charged Sims and Dean of Students Lori Berquam to commit to long-term funding for the Our Wisconsin program, which is something she said she plans to have ASM commit to as well. She said she wants to see more tangible initiatives follow the final endorsement of the statement.

"I'd like to see the Faculty Senate change their academic calender to officially recognize Indigenous People's Day,” Goséy said. “That is something you can tangibly do that says, 'I'm committing to diversity and I'm going to recognize the native community that is on this campus.'"

Campus Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:
“Diversity is a source of strength, creativity, and innovation for UW-Madison. We value the contributions of each person and respect the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich the university community. We commit ourselves to the pursuit of excellence in teaching, research, outreach, and diversity as inextricably linked goals.

“The University of Wisconsin-Madison fulfills its public mission by creating a welcoming and inclusive community for people from every background—people who as students, faculty, and staff serve Wisconsin and the world.”

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