The University of Wisconsin-Madison enlisted an ad hoc group to study the Black experience on campus, the university announced Tuesday.
The Ad Hoc Study Group on the Black Community Experience on the UW-Madison Campus began meeting in late August and is made up of students, faculty members and members of the community.
UW-Madison officials formed the group to recommend steps to improve the experience of the UW-Madison Black community months after a racist video depicting a white UW-Madison student saying racial slurs and violent remarks directed toward Black people circulated on social media in May.
Students and community members led days of demonstrations against the university’s response to the video.
“This study group grows out of incredible actions taken by Black students at the closure of the last semester,” senior Kaleb Autman said in a university press release Tuesday. Autman is a member of the ad hoc group and founding member of the Blk Pwr Coalition, which formed in response to the university’s actions after the video surfaced.
The Blk Pwr Coalition led a May sit-in demonstration outside Mnookin’s office where they delivered demands to the chancellor, including re-evaluation of the university’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies.
The coalition met with the chancellor’s office multiple times this summer.
“These students not only declared that racism has no place at their university but demanded that UW take actionable steps to ensure their safety and success,” Autman said. “It is my greatest hope that the recommendations put forth by this study group are grounded in data and the historic record and are focused toward our collective future.”
UW-Madison officials recently confirmed the university would not cut DEI positions from its budget and is looking for ways to expand its “diversity umbrella” despite threats from Republican lawmakers.
Recently, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos indicated he plans to block a pay increase for UW System employees and withhold returning $32 million in cut funds to the university if DEI programming and job positions aren’t cut from the budget.
“It’s really important with the things that are happening in the world…we are not cutting the DEI positions,” UW-Madison Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor said in remarks to members of the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) earlier this month.
The group plans to meet numerous times throughout this semester and plans to report back to Mnookin in late January 2024.