UWM campus community angry with administration over response to racist video
Wednesday the UW-Milwaukee community held an open conversation about campus culture and student life in the wake of a social media video that shows a student using several slurs. That student was not punished because the university says the video was created before she was enrolled.
There were a lot of open, emotional wounds as roughly 250 people gathered near the UWM fountain. The university says it will take steps to address the campus culture, but dozens of students say the video is the latest incident in a long pattern of racist behavior.
One student said, "I've dealt with it all my life and I didn't want to deal with it again, and yet you still have it here. Why?"
Another said, "We have mental health issues, too. And this 'N' word makes us all shake. It's like a trauma."
Dozens of students expressed their anger over what they feel is a lack of action in the wake of a racist video. UWM Black Student Union President Darius Hayes said, "I think a lot of students made that very clear, that they feel like their administration is not listening to them."
But those students also said there's a diversity problem because this is not an isolated incident. The dean of students says he hears the hurt and wants to make changes, and wants the community to hold them accountable. Dean Adam Jussel said, "That's something that I know there are a lot of initiatives on campus to make that happen. But until our students feel it and recognize it, then we still have more work to do."
But most of the frustration centered on UWM Chancellor Mark Mone, who said punishments under the university's code of conduct do not apply because the video was made before the student was enrolled.
Still he said he's committed to creating a safe and diverse campus. "No matter what we do, what we try to do in terms of seeking improvement, we're going to be tested."
But many said the few consequences are not enough. The student was not expelled -- she chose to leave campus -- and Chancellor Mone said she could theoretically also choose to return in the future.
One student asked, "What actions are you taking to educate her on how to be anti-racist?" Another asked, "What do you say to those people that don't want to report it now because they know nothing will happen?"
And not all were confident their concerns will spark change. UWM Black Student Union Vice President Tanasia Shaw said she's not confident, "Because to be confident I have to see more emotion. I would have to know a little more about directly what's going to happen after this."
Chancellor Mone said he was not able to take questions after the event because he had to run to a meeting. But he did say of Wednesday's discussion, "It's a start, it's a first step."