Following backlash from a viral video released last week, Dean of Students Lori Berquam recrafted her message on the Mifflin Street Block Party in an effort to promote safe behaviors at the event.
In a campus-wide email to University of Wisconsin students Wednesday, Berquam said she understands some students plan to attend the event and she respects their right to decide. She added she thinks students are aware of the risks involved, particularly after the issues at last year’s event.
Berquam said she has spent much of the past week on campus listening to students’ responses to her video and comments on the block party. She added she believes there are better things to do.
“I’ll take feedback because that’s important to me,” Berquam said. “Maybe there’s an area where I could have done better and I own that, but my message is still the same.”
A statement released later by University Communications added the Madison Police Department will report potential cases of student misconduct to the Dean of Students Office. Misconduct by students of other UW System or local schools will also be reported to the appropriate school.
UW spokesperson John Lucas said it is important for students to listen to city and public safety officials, as well as listen to their directions. He also said common sense moves, such as staying off the street or maintaining the size of parties, will help ensure student safety.
Berquam also urged students to consider the potential effects of mixing the event with Cinco de Mayo, including the reinforcement of cultural stereotypes.
“Mixing Mifflin with ethnic stereotypes related to Cinco de Mayo isn’t funny, and is actually offensive to many members of our campus community,” Berquam said.
Berquam also asked in her email for students to honor everyone’s right to live and feel safe in the Madison community.
Berquam has approached this message differently in hopes of reaching more students, Lucas said. Berquam added in an interview she has taken students’ concerns about her previous message to heart.
“I am concerned about student safety and I want students, if they choose to go, to be safe,” Berquam said. “So I wanted to be sure I messaged that to every student.”