The University of Wisconsin Dean of Students Office hosted a virtual town hall to address the university’s response to anti-Chinese chalk drawings left on campus yesterday.
Assistant Director for Bias Response in the DoSO, Jenna Friedman, said the office received a total of 25 bias incident reports Tuesday evening and throughout the day Wednesday about racist chalk graffiti outside near George L. Mosse Humanities Building and the Walgreens on the corner of State and Lake St.
The university has removed the graffiti and the DoSO has been in contact with everyone who made a report to provide updates on what is being done to respond to the incident, Friedman said. The graffiti attacked the Chinese government and called the coronavirus the “China-virus”.
Friedman said DoSO has been in contact with MPD as well to see if there is video footage documenting the event.
“I want to take a moment to thank all of you who took the time to file reports,” Friedman said. “I know it is not an easy thing to do, and we know these racist incidents have a huge negative impact on you.”
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Dean of Students Christina Olstad said the university values student involvement as they make decisions about how to respond to bias incidents on campus.
Olstad said UW will continue to work with Associated Students of Madison to find ways to talk with students on campus about how bias incidents are affecting them.
“Seeing page upon page of students who have tapped in to be a part of this town hall really shows the need for opportunities to engage and to share that this is having a huge impact on our student population,” Olstad said.
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Interim Director of International Student Services Samantha McCabe said ISS has worked closely with university leadership to ensure they’re hearing international student concerns throughout this time. ISS has created an International Student Advisory Board for the first time in five years to discuss how COVID-19 has affected international students.
Director of Asian American Studies Program Cindy I-Fen Cheng encouraged students of color to support each other as a community and educate others on the issues they are facing.
“Do not ever underestimate the power of education and learning,” Cheng said. “Learn about the issue, learn about what the acts are doing, but also figure out what your values are and what kind of social change and measures you want to take.”
Olstad said the rise in racism has no place on campus and the university will continue to find ways to educate and support students.
The virtual town hall itself experienced several interruptions. One student appeared on camera with their pants pulled down, singing an obscene song, while another student interrupted the panelists and spoke obscenities for several moments before officials shut down their microphone.