Campus News

Tweet sheds light on UHS survey “The Color of Drinking”

Students of color and white students have two very different reasons for leaving UW-Madison. “The Color of Drinking” survey shows their top reasons. 

Image By: Courtesy of The Color of Drinking survey

A tweet circulated online today showing the results of a survey conducted by University Health Services that studied disparities between the campus experiences of students of color and white students.

The survey, titled “The Color of Drinking,” is an exploration of the impact of UW-Madison campus drinking culture on students of color. It was conducted from November 2017 to January 2018 and compensated students for participating.

The tweet, posted by Amy Gaeta, a Ph. D candidate in English, Literary Studies at UW-Madison, features a picture of survey results showing the different reasons students considered leaving the university organized by race.

Gaeta said she felt it was important to tweet the survey because it is an issue that should not be ignored. 

“I firmly believe that the racial climate and its relationship to alcohol use, among other things, needs to be one of our top priorities,” Gaeta said.

According to survey results, 54.5 percent of respondents of color who said they have considered leaving the university said it was because of the racial climate on campus, compared to only 6.9 percent of white respondents. 37.9 percent of white respondents said they considered leaving due to academic reasons, making it the most common reason for that group.

The study also focused on alcohol-related and classroom microaggressions, which are defined by the survey as “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.”

Respondents said they experienced microaggressions in both a classroom environment and in a party atmosphere. Students of color were 24 percent more likely than white students to witness a microaggression take place.

Amara Green, a UW-Madison student who retweeted the post, said that she thought it was important to share because it may be an issue that not many students think about unless they are directly impacted.

“White students may not be aware of the issue and may not think about how the racial climate impacts other students,” Green said. “Since I am a person of color, I might be super uncomfortable in a room filled with white students, especially because people are unpredictable when they are drinking.”

UW-Madison student Claudia Belawski said that diversity was an important factor in her decision to transfer from UW-La Crosse. She was disappointed to learn that the racial climate at UW-Madison negatively impacts the experiences of students.

“I can understand where people are coming from because I would feel a similar way if I was in the shoes of a person of color,” Belawski said. “It would be very hard to be the only person to represent your community in a classroom or party setting.”

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