UW-Madison students organize to support diversity efforts beyond Homecoming video

UW-Madison students organize to support diversity efforts beyond Homecoming video

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UW-Madison's new Homecoming video features many students of color, which stands in contrast to one created earlier this month featuring nearly all white students. 

Students of color worked with UW-Madison on a video released during Saturday’s Homecoming football game that highlighted diversity on campus following an outcry from an earlier video featuring almost exclusively white students.

One student leader involved in the production said the latest video is just the beginning of a new student group’s activism to promote inclusion on a campus where the 30% of non-white students can often feel left out.

The Student Inclusion Coalition formed in response to the first video, which sparked a backlash from many in the university community when a black sorority pointed out that its members participated in the filming but were left out of the final version.

The coalition’s goal is to be a voice for multicultural students on campus and to hold the university accountable in any future incidents involving racism and exclusion, according to UW-Madison senior Kingsley Pissang. She serves as president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the black sorority excluded from the video created by a student Homecoming committee.

“We acknowledge the university is working toward getting better,” Pissang told the State Journal Monday. “The video during halftime is a great place to start, but when the press dies down, is it going to take another incident for something to change?”

The new video widely shared on UW social media accounts “absolutely does not” make up for the first one, she said.

The coalition plans to release later this week another video and a list of demands for the university, Pissang said. She declined to elaborate on what the video or those demands would entail, saying they were still in draft form.

An accompanying statement will further explain the group’s position, a few portions of which Pissang said didn’t make it into the video shown Saturday at Camp Randall. Two examples include: “We are more than smiles on a diversity flyer” and “Whether you like it or not, we are Badgers, too.”

UW-Madison did not control the script or content of the video, according to university spokesman John Lucas. The university’s communications office produced the 60-second video and shaved down some of the script strictly because of time constraints.

The new video does not gloss over the first one that was quickly taken down.

“At UW-Madison, we learn lessons inside and outside of the classroom,” the video begins. “The week before Homecoming we learned a lesson about what happens when some community members are forgotten. But this is not about a Homecoming video. This is about who we are and how we are seen. We are people. We are scholars. And we are Badgers, too.”

Pissang wrote the script, directed and narrated it, all within the span of a few days last week, she said.

“We will not be erased,” Pissang says in the video. “We are taking a stance with the university not only to be seen, but to be heard. We learn lessons best when we learn them together. We are here. We are important. And we are UW!”

The Wisconsin Alumni Association, which oversaw the student Homecoming committee, and the university announced earlier this month other changes that will be made, including:

  • New review and oversight protocols for students’ marketing and communication work.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion training for staff and members of the Homecoming Committee and the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board.
  • Plans to “intentionally diversify” the composition and leadership of the student organizations.
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