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A message from Chancellor Rebecca Blank

January 26, 2017

Members of the Campus Community,

I want to make you aware of an issue that I know will be of concern to many of you, and is to me as well.

A UW–Madison student has indicated he wants to form an “alt-right” organization on our campus.

I have also become aware that he was convicted in 2005 of racially motivated arsons of two African-American churches. I am appalled by attacks on churches and by organizations that express hatred of people of color, Jews, Muslims or any other identity.

The student claims to be affiliated with the American Freedom Party, a recognized hate group. Its activities are diametrically opposed to our campus values of respect and inclusion. I’ve been heartened to see many students state their strong disagreement with the views of this group.

I’m sure you want to know why this person is here, what we’re doing about his recent activity and how we keep our community safe.

Like many university systems, the UW System’s admission application does not ask for or allow us to consider a student’s criminal history as part of the admissions process. This is intended to ensure that students who have made mistakes, but paid their debt to society, are not prevented from accessing education.

In light of this situation, I will engage the Board of Regents and the System in a discussion and request that the board consider a review of this policy.

The safety of our campus community is my top priority. I recognize the mere presence of this activity is concerning. But handing out political information and expressing objectionable, even hateful, viewpoints is not illegal nor a violation of any campus policy.

At this point, we have no information to suggest a specific safety threat to individuals or campus. Any time we become aware of a potential safety concern, we work with law enforcement and other partners to gather information and determine whether laws or campus policies are being violated. We continue to track this situation closely given the student’s history.

We will not tolerate discrimination against any student. We also will not tolerate harassment, threats, hate crimes or violence against any student. We ask that any such action be reported to UWPD.