UW-Madison, Alumni Association announce changes after criticism from all-white student video

UW-Madison, Alumni Association announce changes after criticism from all-white student video

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UW-Madison and its alumni association announced Friday actions it will take in response to a video featuring an almost exclusively white student body.

UW-Madison announced Friday several actions it is taking in response to a student-created video featuring an almost entirely white student body that failed to include a black student group who participated in filming.

A 40-member student Homecoming Committee released a video Sunday promoting the university with a theme titled “Home is Where WI are.” The lack of diversity within the video and the exclusion of any clips from a black sorority that agreed to participate prompted outcry from many on campus, reviving calls that the university must do more to make students of color feel included on a predominantly white campus.

The Homecoming Committee took the video down from social media accounts within a day, and the Wisconsin Alumni Association, which oversees the committee, acknowledged responsibility in a Tuesday statement. The university also apologized.

A statement from UW-Madison Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Patrick Sims and Wisconsin Alumni Association director Sarah Schutt outlined several steps the Alumni Association will take, including developing new review and oversight protocols for students’ marketing and communication work.

The group will also add diversity, equity and inclusion training for staff and members of the Homecoming Committee and the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board.

The Alumni Association will develop a plan to “intentionally diversify” the composition and leadership of the student organizations.

Asked Wednesday for the racial makeup of the Homecoming Committee, Alumni Association spokesman Tod Pritchard said he was unable to say because the application to apply to the committee does not ask students to indicate their race. A photo of the group posted to Facebook does not appear to show any black students on the committee.

UW-Madison said it will develop additional programs to train student leaders and their advisers on how to authentically include and serve all students.

“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,” the statement said.

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