With recent incidents of hate and bias making news locally and nationally, the annual UW-Madison Diversity Forum provided an opportunity for administrators and the campus community to discuss inclusivity on campus.
This year, the forum offered a program for second- and third-shift employees, with an 11 p.m. session presented in five languages about the experiences of those employees.
The forum was opened with a keynote address by President of the Safe Nation Collaborative and a National Security Fellow at the New America Foundation Rabia Chaudry, followed by a question-and-answer session.
The key program in the afternoon session was a town hall discussion hosted by Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Patrick Sims entitled “Communities in Crisis: What is the Call? What is the Response?” Some panelists criticized the university’s response to issues facing marginalized groups on campus, including students of color, LGBT student, Native American students and undocumented students.
“I think native students get constantly pushed to the side,” Ashley Duffy, a UW-Madison law student, said. “We just get pushed to the side and people tell us ‘well, it’s not a big deal’ and it is a big deal. I want UW, which strives for diversity, to actually step up and do something for it.”
Duffy’s sentiments were echoed by UW-Madison sophomore Eneale Pickett, creator of the Insert Apparel clothing line, which features sweatshirts with the phrase “All White People Are Racist” among others.
“This university, it doesn’t love you, it doesn’t care for you. A lot of people in administration don’t care for you,” said Pickett. “The administration and the culture here, they allow [racism]. Just like that noose was allowed in the game in our school colors, they allowed it, and they called it free speech.”
Sims was positive about the panel and the forum as a whole.
“I think this has been absolutely amazing,” Sims said. "Certainly we’re gonna have our critics and certainly there are things we could have done better, that’s always the case. I felt very good about the keynote this morning and I think this was, as challenging and difficult a conversation as it was, it was a good conversation.”