“We are not involved when the school thinks of home,” said UW-Madison senior Payton Wade before the UW-Madison Homecoming Committee promotional video was taken down.
The Homecoming Committee released a video excluding students of color and marginalized groups, sparking backlash on social media Monday.
The short promotional video, which the committee took down, only showcased white Badgers experiencing the Wisconsin Idea and making Madison home. The original video excluded the bodies and experiences of students of color and international students, who are often tokenized by the school to prove its diversity.
Wade, who is part of the Epsilon Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, was invited to be filmed as part of the promotional video. However, the historically African-American sorority was nowhere to be seen.
“It made me question the fact that there are so many people in the committee but no one pointed it out and the video was still released,” Wade said.
Other students and alumni also stood in solidarity and voiced their dissatisfaction with the decision the committee and Wisconsin Alumni Association made.
“I, a Black woman, am not represented once in this entire video, along with numerous intersectional identities across race, physical ability, color, religion, nationality, and other social identities,” Janiece Piolet, a UW-Madison student commented in her Facebook post.
Both Wade’s and Piolet’s social media posts received a lot of comments from other students of color and marginalized communities. The posts were shared and reposted at least a hundred times across various social media platforms.
The committee and WAA sent out an apology statement Monday, acknowledging the exclusion of students of color in the video and apologized to those who had caused pain and frustration among students.
“We regret omitting those images and we recognized that, by doing so, we unintentionally caused hurt to members of our campus community,” the Homecoming Committee stated. “We are sorry that our video failed to show the full breadth of the university experience and made members of our community feel excluded.”
While Wade appreciated the apology statement and believed the university is trying to be more inclusive, she suggested that actions need to be taken.
“The statement is just the first step to many more steps we have to take. One way that the committee could do is to sit down and listen to our experience first hand,” Wade said. “All students of color with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds need to be represented. We’re trying to make Madison our home too.”
Despite the statement from the association and the committee, disappointment and frustration from students of color and marginalized groups will remain unsolved until the university finds a concrete way to acknowledge its lack of diversity and reconcile with its existing oppression and racism.