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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Schools cite progress at diversity forum

The Plan 2008 Campus Forum Committee, in conjunction with the Campus Oversights Committee and Student Personnel Association, hosted the third annual Plan 2008 Forum for administrators Tuesday. The forum is part of an ongoing effort to increase diversity and improve campus climate at UW-Madison.

The forum gave different schools and colleges a chance to explain how they are contributing to make a diverse campus.

Chancellor John Wiley spoke in support of Plan 2008 at the session, saying more efforts need to be made to promote a better campus climate and more diversity.

“There is a growing realization on this campus that we really do have a near-crisis situation,” Wiley said. “The upper Midwest in this country is, increasingly, a white island.”

Wiley said the small proportion of minorities on this campus does not reflect the demographics of the country.

“Politically, economically, morally, socially, we cannot continue to have public support if we’re going to be so atypical,” Wiley said.

Although many people were happy with the dialogue at the forum, UW Regent Fred Mohs said he still has trouble with the efforts that are being made on campus to increase diversity. Mohs has been a longtime opponent to the UW admissions policy, which he said uses race as a basis for accepting a certain portion of applicants.

“I agree with Plan 2008 in most respects,” Mohs said. “But we are embarking on a journey without knowing what the destination is. Nobody I have talked to so far can identify what ‘a success’ would mean if we were ‘successful’ in our diversity efforts.”

During the session, Mohs said it is possible to not use race as a factor for admissions.

“Are we at a point where we can abandon the use of race as a factor in admissions? In my opinion, we’ve reached a point where this is possible,” he said.

Chancellor Wiley concurred.

“You know we just plain disagree,” he said to Mohs. “Its one thing to say race as an abstract concept should be irrelevant. [Race] has not been irrelevant in our society,” he said. “I don’t think you can afford to ignore any factor that is important [in the admissions process]. Race is important.”

Vice Chancellor and co-chair of the Campus Oversight Committee Paul Barrows said he was pleased with the progress made from this time last year.

“I think we have done some things well,” Barrows said. “We have new initiatives, but we still have a long way to go. We’re trying to improve campus climate for everybody, not just students of color.”

UW student and diversity advocate Lamont Smith said he was pleased the forum took place.

“I think it’s good the administration is taking the opportunity to inform the campus about how they are trying to fulfill the goals of Plan 2008 and that they are holding themselves accountable.” Smith said.

Throughout the forum, many members of the faculty and administration spoke about progress that was being made.

Omie Baldwin and Cathy Middlecamp gave a brief presentation to the resource fair on the implementation of a new chemistry course that would meet the ethnic studies requirement.

“We’re offering this course next spring,” Baldwin said, “It’s about Uranium and Native Americans; how it affects people in their everyday life. I think it’s a good way of making chemistry applicable.”

President of the Student Personnel Association Greg Iaccarino said he was pleased with the information presented by the panel hosted by the law school.

“They have a lot of good ideas,” Iaccarino said. “The law school writes individual letters of admission to applicants — by name, not generic form. I like the idea of individualized attention, as well as the mentoring and support offered.”

Plan 2008 Campus Forum Committee co-chair Rebecca Ryan said she was pleased with the turnout.

“In the morning session it was standing-room only,” Ryan said. “Over 450 people came to hear and be heard. There were easily 70 to 80 students here. In my opinion, people are welcoming the chance to ask questions, to vent concerns. I think the event will probably grow each year, right up to 2008.”

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