After a push from Associate Students of Madison leaders to increase administration cultural competency, Chancellor Rebecca Blank agreed to begin administration training which will address unconscious biases.
Due to recent University of Wisconsin hate and bias incidents, ASM Chair Madison Laning, Shared Governance Chair Jessica Franco-Morales, University Affairs Chair Sally Rohrer and UW senior Brooke Evans sent Blank a letter Sunday demanding cultural competency training for administration.
They met with Blank Monday to discuss the need for more administration efforts to change campus climate, Nima Cheraghi, ASM spokesperson, said.
“These incidents have not only brought to light the realities of numerous students at this institution, but they have exemplified the lack of cultural competency at every level and facet of this university,” the letter said.
The purpose of the initial letter was not the incidents themselves, but the chancellor’s reaction to them, Cheraghi said.
Blank agreed at the meeting to seek cultural competency training for school administration, which will be led by a third-party initiative, Cheraghi said. The training will be extensive, with face-to-face interactions, a pre-test and a post-test, instead of just a few lectures or sessions, he said.
“It will be similar to how we’re going to make some of the diversity training for freshmen and transfer students, but mainly focused on faculty and administration,” Cheraghi said. “[We want] to have the administration better understand student life because we see a big disconnect in the decisions that they’re making on behalf of the students.”
Laning said ASM is trying to find the best way to represent student voices on campus, and to figure out the root of the problem.
There have been a lot of talks of students not being culturally competent, but very little talks of faculty not being competent, and basically no talk of the administration not being competent, Laning said. She wants the letter to push the administration, primarily Blank, to reflect on their own actions and unconscious biases.
“After all the conversations that have been happening, it’s obvious that our administration is just kind of going around a lot of student-led, student-run initiatives, not giving the credit to those students, and not holding themselves accountable,” Laning said.
In addition to Blank’s agreement to implement the cultural competency training before the fall 2016 semester, ASM also hopes the administration will be more proactive than reactionary in terms of addressing campus climate issues, Laning said.