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Lori Berquam is the Dean of Students for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She served in that position on an interim basis from July 2005 to February 2007. She also has a large influence on campus policies regarding diversity and alcohol consumption.
Berquam served as interim dean of students for over 18 months. She faced competition for the permanent position from candidates from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and Rutgers University in Camden, N.J. Berquam was lauded by many campus organizations for accepting student feedback, and Chancellor John Wiley and Provost Patrick Farrell took note of that. Picking Berquam allowed for an easy transition.
In a Badger Herald article dated Sept. 17, 2007, Berquam told The Badger Herald she wanted to see increased student activism in protest of the Iraq war:
"I want our students to be passionate and say, 'Get out of there,' but I won't make them do it. It's all about the student voice. Why aren't there more protests about what's happening there?"
Her comments brought back chilling memories of the Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Columns from both campus newspapers and campus bloggers were harshly critical of Berquam for out stepping her bounds with the comments, and she attempted to calm the sea with a letter to the editor printed Sept. 21:
Leadership and activism are important factors of student learning outside of the classroom. As dean of students, I encourage activism on campus and support students taking a stand for what they believe in. I want all our students to be active and engaged members of our community and to be passionate about topics and issues that speak to their own worldview. Historically, UW-Madison has been viewed as an institution where students actively raise their voice on a multitude of issues. Peaceful protests, marches and rallies are part of the fabric of this university. With that being said, I am surprised that we haven't heard more from our students about the war in Iraq, whether they are in support of it or not; we aren't really hearing anything.
She and UW in general have received criticism from conservatives in the state for their support of same-sex partner benefits.
Following a campus crisis, Berquam makes herself quickly available to students who are affected as well as the media. She was one of the first respondents following the fire at Sigma Phi Epsilon in May 2008 and the Bedford Street fire in November 2007. She also appeared to be very compassionate following the murder of Brittney Zimmermann in April 2008.
Berquam is openly gay, and is a huge supporter of LGBT groups on campus.