One year after receiving nationwide criticism for producing a 2019 homecoming video that did not include students of color, the University of Wisconsin has released a report and video detailing what progress they have made since.
Following the controversy, a new student advocacy group, the Student Inclusion Coalition, was formed. Composed of student leaders and concerned students, SIC made five demands of UW that would help restore dignity, pride and inclusion among students of color, according to the report.
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SIC demanded UW publicly acknowledge the sacrifice of past students of color, recognize the educational value of marginalized identity-based student affinity groups and improve the support system for marginalized students on campus.
The group also demanded a restructuring of the Homecoming Committee to ensure engagement from marginalized groups on campus and the creation of a coordinated infrastructure to respond to structural oppression.
According to the report, Student Affairs, the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement and the Wisconsin Alumni Association worked with SIC to address their demands.
In an email to The Badger Herald, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor said senior administrators have met several times with SIC over the past year to make progress on their demands.
“SIC and university administration have been highly engaged through workgroups to explore options and to determine next steps,” Reesor said. “There have been areas of partnership within the demands, as well as some ideas that needed to be refined or were untenable as presented.”
In the last 12 months, UW administrators working with the task force have made several advancements, the report said, including budgeting an additional $50,000 for the Multicultural Student Center, establishing the Office of Inclusion Education within the Student Affairs office and making the diversity training program “Our Wisconsin” mandatory for all incoming students.
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They also formally recognized the contributions of student activism in the creation of UW’s Afro-American studies department. Furthermore, the report said that a delegation of diverse student committees consulted with WAA to plan 2020’s video, a process that will become integrated into the Homecoming Committee structure going forward.
According to the report, UW is planning a fundraiser to create a landmark honoring the contributions of the school’s Black fraternities and sororities.
“We continue to seek ongoing dialogue on these issues with the SIC leaders and others,” Reesor said. “We are committed to making both short-term and systemic changes to improve the campus climate and to support and acknowledge the experiences of our marginalized students.”