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Message from UW–Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Association

October 4, 2019

To our campus and alumni communities,

We often speak about making UW–Madison a place where people of all identities and backgrounds feel valued, welcome and safe. On Sunday, something happened that made many students and alumni of color and their allies question our commitment: The student Homecoming Committee released a video that did not properly represent Black students and other students of color as essential members of our campus community.

We stand with our students of color and hear their voices with a clear commitment to action, not only about the video, but their broader experiences of exclusion on campus. While we have a number of efforts underway aimed at improving campus climate, this incident presents an important opportunity to reaffirm our commitments to bring about meaningful change.

Senior leaders from the university and the Wisconsin Alumni Association (a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the university) have spent this week in discussion with a number of concerned students and today we are writing to share the initial actions we plan to take.

  • Training – The alumni association will implement diversity, equity and inclusion training for staff and members of WAA-sponsored student organizations (the Student Homecoming Committee and the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board, or WASB).
  • Communications – The alumni association will establish new review and oversight protocols for marketing and communication pieces for student work.
  • WAA-sponsored Student Organizations – The alumni association will develop a plan to intentionally diversify the composition and leadership of the WAA-sponsored student organizations.
  • UW–Madison Student Organizations and Advisors Our university has a responsibility to prepare student leaders for the global world. The university will develop additional programs to build competencies among our student leaders and their advisors to better prepare them to authentically include and serve all students, in particular those from diverse backgrounds.

The university will continue to advance our ongoing efforts in these areas, including those that build capacity to prevent and respond to exclusion and that prioritize recruiting and retaining more diverse students, faculty and staff.

We will also continue our dialogue with students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members. Your courage to speak your truth makes our campus and community stronger and we thank you for that.

Lori Reesor
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, UW–Madison

Patrick J. Sims
Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity & Inclusion, UW–Madison

Sarah Schutt
Executive Director, Wisconsin Alumni Association