A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student wrote chalk messages Thursday on Library Mall in what they described as an effort to raise awareness about the university's responsibility to safeguard its students.
“Last month, a professor flashed me because I had top surgery and my scars are visible,” said KT Simmons-Uvin, the graduate student. “And there [haven’t] really been any consequences of that.”
The chalk drawings, which spanned large areas of the ground of Library Mall, contained messages such as “I’m proud of us, except for the administration who could not protect me, but is protecting my abuser.”
The professor that exposed herself to Simmons-Uvin, Professor Lisa Gralnick, is still listed as an employee of UW-Madison, according to the university's website. The Art Department has worked to address the situation, a university spokesperson told The Daily Cardinal in a statement Tuesday.
“[UW-Madison] has removed the faculty member from their teaching duties and has restricted their access to their art studio to limit interactions with students for the remainder of the semester,” the email wrote.
However, Simmons-Uvin argues the university’s actions have not gone far enough.
“She's been removed from teaching, but she still has access to her studio, which is in the same building as mine,” Simmons-Uvin said Thursday. “I've been avoiding that — I've had a really hard time returning to campus feeling safe at all.”
A building access schedule was put in place on March 31, according to the university. The university did not clarify what “restricted access” entailed when asked to clarify its statement.
Simmons-Uvin’s said their chalk display was intended to share their story and raise awareness.
“Events like this get swept under the rug and everything just goes back to normal,” Simmons-Uvin said. “I don't think it should or can.”
The university shared specific resources to art students in an April email, according to the Cap Times.
“Art Department members and others at the university have met with the student to offer support and follow-up resources,” the university wrote in the email. “UW–Madison strives to create an environment that is welcoming, inclusive and offers every opportunity for our students, faculty and staff to thrive.”
UWPD issued a disorderly conduct citation to Gralnick on March 31. Gralnick pleaded no contest and paid a $295 fine, according to court records.
Still, Simmons-Uvin feels the university could take greater steps to prevent incidents like Gralnick’s from happening.
“I wish that the university would do more to protect students like myself and other trans students,” Simmons-Uvin said.