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Action Project Issue, February 2014

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Since 1892




“…the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.”

action project 2


Action Project Issue, February 2014

An independent student newspaper, serving the University of Wisconsin-Madison community since 1892 Volume 123, Issue 82

2142 Vilas Communication Hall 821 University Avenue Madison, Wis., 53706-1497 (608) 262-8000 • fax (608) 262-8100

News and Editorial Editor-in-Chief Abigail Becker

Managing Editor Mara Jezior

News Team News Manager Sam Cusick Campus Editor Adelina Yankova College Editor Emily Gerber City Editor Patricia Johnson State Editor Eoin Cottrell Associate News Editor Dana Kampa Features Editor Melissa Howison Opinion Editors Haleigh Amant • Ryan Bullen Editorial Board Chair Anna Duffin Arts Editors Cheyenne Langkamp • Sean Reichard Sports Editors Brett Bachman • Jonah Beleckis Page Two Editors Andy Holsteen • Kane Kaiman Photo Editors Courtney Kessler • Jane Thompson Graphics Editors Mikaela Albright • Haley Henschel Multimedia Editor Amy Gruntner • Grey Satterfield Science Editor Nia Sathiamoorthi Life & Style Editor Katy Hertel Special Pages Editor Samy Moskol Social Media Manager Rachel Wanat Copy Chiefs Vince Huth • Justine Jones Maya Miller • Kayla Schmidt Copy Editors Kerry Huth

Business and Advertising Business Manager Tyler Reindl Advertising Manager Jordan Laeyendecker Assistant Advertising Manager Corissa Pennow Account Executives Brianna Albee • Erin Aubrey Michael Metzler • Dan Shanahan Elisa Wiseman Marketing Director Cooper Boland The Daily Cardinal is a nonprofit organization run by its staff members and elected editors. It receives no funds from the university. Operating revenue is generated from advertising and subscription sales. The Daily Cardinal is published weekdays and distributed at the University of WisconsinMadison and its surrounding community with a circulation of 10,000. Capital Newspapers, Inc. is the Cardinal’s printer. The Daily Cardinal is printed on recycled paper. The Cardinal is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. All copy, photographs and graphics appearing in The Daily Cardinal are the sole property of the Cardinal and may not be reproduced without written permission of the editor in chief. The Daily Cardinal accepts advertising representing a wide range of views. This acceptance does not imply agreement with the views expressed. The Cardinal reserves the right to reject advertisements judged offensive based on imagery, wording or both. Complaints: News and editorial complaints should be presented to the editor in chief. Business and advertising complaints should be presented to the business manager. Letters Policy: Letters must be word processed and must include contact information. No anonymous letters will be printed. All letters to the editor will be printed at the discretion of The Daily Cardinal. Letters may be sent to opinion@

Editorial Board Haleigh Amant • Abigail Becker Ryan Bullen • Anna Duffin Mara Jezior • Cheyenne Langkamp Tyler Nickerson • Michael Penn Nikki Stout

Board of Directors Herman Baumann, President Abigail Becker • Mara Jezior Jennifer Sereno • Stephen DiTullio Cooper Boland • Phil Brinkman Jacob Sattler • Janet Larson Don Miner • Jason Stein Nancy Sandy • Tina Zavoral

© 2013, The Daily Cardinal Media Corporation ISSN 0011-5398

For the record Corrections or clarifications? Call The Daily Cardinal office at 608-262-8000 or send an email to

From the management desk

More needs to be said on the issue of campus climate

ABBY becker and Mara jezior management team


hen we say Wisconsin, do we really say it all? Or in other words, as a community, are we really doing everything we can to foster inclusivity for all groups and ideas, and additionally, what else needs to be said about this issue? These are the questions The Daily Cardinal attempts to explore in the first installment of the Action Project series. This installment specifically focuses on diversity and campus climate issues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The idea for this issue came from The Daily Cardinal’s own quest to learn more about diversity on campus. From covering the complicated background of past diversity plans by our news team, to forming opinions by our editorial board, we found the crux of this situation to be a lack of conversation. Of course, there are multiple corners of campus focused on improving diversity and inclusivity, but for the majority of campus, there sometimes appears to be a disconnect. For this reason, we want to bring the issue of campus climate to the forefront of discourse in a prominent way, as a call to action of sorts. We feel the lack of diversity in our community is one of the biggest issues facing this generation of UW-Madison students. In this issue, you will find news articles, profiles and opinions as well as letters from the


The Daily Cardinal would like to recognize

Courtney Kessler/the daily cardinal

community. We believe we are not doing this issue justice if we do not let individuals on campus voice their own opinions. The Daily Cardinal can’t claim to know everything about diversity or the campus social climate, and we acknowledge there are holes in our coverage. The Daily Cardinal is an organization of students learning through experience. For this reason, we welcome your feedback and continued discussion of your opinions. The question permeating throughout this publication is whether or not campus truly encompasses everything and everyone it should and whether we’ve said all there is to be said about diversity. We haven’t said everything, but we hope this publication can at the very least open lines of communication between students and leaders, as well as provide a greater understanding of the campus social climate. We ask you: When you say

Wisconsin, do you really say it all? The Daily Cardinal can’t say it all. The university can’t say it all. Individuals can’t say it all. But this issue aims to spark an ongoing conversation everyone can hopefully participate in and bring together UW-Madison students’ and community members’ stories. There is danger in silencing or choosing not to hear different perspectives. Furthermore, the conversation on diversity should never end. We will never be able to say it all, but we can continue to discuss, converse, listen and debate. Change, progress and conversation need to start at an individual level and for this reason, we want to bring light to this situation. This project is not offering a solution to campus climate problems, because there is no perfect solution. It will take more than a university’s diversity plan or a student newspaper’s initiative to enact change. As individual people, we need to educate ourselves and make diversity a pri-

ority. Change is a ripple effect. If we’ve made mistakes, missed something or portrayed an issue poorly in this publication, please let us know. On top of that, speak up on the issue itself. We don’t want to speak for others’ experiences so much as we want to provide the information to initiate discussion on campus climate as a whole. We urge you to read this issue and respond. Respond to what we did cover and even more importantly, respond to what you feel is missing. This issue is about reaching out to the community and finding out what’s important. We will accept submission letters regarding campus climate throughout the semester and will continue publishing them because this conversation needs to continue. On a different note, we would like to acknowledge that this issue is funded by the Evjue Foundation, the charitable branch of the Capital Times. Named after Cap Times founder William Evjue, the Evjue Grant was created to “ensure that those without the power of wealth and station would have a champion in the never-ending quest for clean and just government.” The Daily Cardinal thanks the Evjue Foundation for supporting our project to shed light on under-reported issues. This edition of the Action Project issue will be on stands all week. For complete coverage of news, arts, opinion and sports, visit Please send all feedback to

Taoist TAI CHI Comes to MADISON

Open House, Free Demonstration, and Chance to Try Tai Chi

Wednesday, March 5

First Unitarian Church, 900 University Bay Dr. (near UW & VA Hospitals)

The Evjue Foundation, Inc. (the charitable arm of The Capital Times)

for providing the funds to make the Action Project possible.


Taoist Tai Chi promotes health, balance, strength, and flexibility through practicing a set of gentle, stretching movements. No experience necessary. All ages welcome. Join us - 5:30 p.m. March 5, for a demonstration and free first lesson. Class meets every Wednesday 5:30-7 p.m. for three months (March – May). Taoist Tai Chi Society is a nonprofit organization. Instructors are volunteers. The fee $25-$40/month for adults and $10-$15 for children goes to rent space and other administrative expenses. For more information or if you have any questions email: Or visit:


Action Project Issue, February 2014 3


Gender gap fosters dedication Women studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics envision bright futures Story by Franco LaTona


elissa Abler is used to being one of the few females in her classes; it has been that way since her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She recently recalled day one of her introduction to computer engineering class, where she met her best friend. “She sat next to me on the first day and was like, ‘Oh my God, another girl!’” she said. Abler is now a senior and the only woman on campus majoring in engineering physics to her knowledge. While it is true more women are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics today than in the past, they still account for a smaller percentage than men. According to the UW System’s Office of Policy Analysis and Research, 37.9 percent of undergraduate and graduate women received a degree in a STEM field in 2013. Abler said she feels a unique responsibility to perform well academically as a woman in a male-dominated area of study, particularly as she gets older and the presence of women in her classes diminishes. “You have this burden of representing your gender and succeeding on behalf of your gender, which is a very weird place to be in,” Abler said. “And one I wasn’t really conscious of when I was a

freshman and sophomore.” Abler said she has never experienced any overt discrimination, but has picked up on subtle biases, such as responses her admittance to Columbia University’s graduate school elicited. “I’ve had some people tell me, ‘Well of course you got in, you’re a girl in physics,’ and not ‘Hey, you worked

really hard a n d earned it,’” Ab l e r GRAPHIC BY HALEY HENSCHEL

said While external biases may persist, UW-Madison sophomore Anna Christenson, who is pursuing a degree in physics, said her harshest criticism comes internally. “I do hear myself saying ‘You didn’t do as well because you’re a girl,’” Christenson said, but acknowledged this type of thinking is unjustified and something she would like to correct moving forward. Various organizations on campus aim to increase the number of women pursuing science degrees, including the Women in Science & Engineering residen-

tial learning community, located in Sellery Hall. WISE’s 64 current participants make social and professional con-

things,” are getting stronger. In addition to those misconceptions, Abler said another obstacle exists that many women

with a child of her own, said she understands this predicament. Coppersmith said by the time a person receives tenure at a uni-

"You have this burden of representing your gender and succeeding on behalf of your gender, which is a very weird place to be in."

Melissa Abler

senior, UW-Madison

nections, receive mentoring and have the opportunity to enroll in classes taught by WISE staff in a few core subjects. One university study showed women who marked an interest in a STEM field on their UW-Madison application and participated in WISE were 50 percent more likely to graduate with a STEM degree than those who did not participate in WISE. Even though not a member of WISE as a freshman, Abler attributes much of her success to the student organizations in which she participates. Abler is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, a nonprofit group on campus that provides members with a number of community service opportunities, social and professional networking as well as mentoring. Additionally, as a bisexual woman, Abler is a member of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which allows members of the LGBT community who are pursuing a degree in science to network with one another. Abler said she feels stereotypes about what academic degrees LGBT students are likely to pursue, such as “theatre or writing or very liberal artsy

find more troublesome than men; namely, the pressure to get married and have a family. “It’s much more accepted for men to be single at 35,” Abler said. “And with women it’s oftenlike...why are you not married? Did you get divorced? Or are you just refusing to get married to anyone ever? What happened? Something must have happened.” However, the journey through graduate school and postdoctoral research often means an individual cannot stay in one city until their thirties, which complicates settling down. Susan Coppersmith, a professor of physics at UW-Madison


versity, they are likely in their mid-to-late thirties. “There’s this question of how do you do this and have a family?” Coppersmith said. “And how do you integrate everything?” Still, Abler said she is determined to pursue her professional aspirations. Christenson, too, is set on fulfilling her academic dreams and said she thinks the responsibility lies on her and other women to make their own success. “We’ve had wonderful women fight for our rights; now we have those rights in academia,” Christenson said. “It’s time for us to rise to the challenge, and make ourselves equal.”

Women who participated in WISE were percent more likely to graduate with a STEM degree than those who did not participate.

of undergraduate and


graduate women received a degree in a STEM field at UW schools in 2013.

“It’s much more

accepted for men to be single at


students are currently members 64 UWof theMadison Women in Science and Engineering

residential learning community, located in Sellery Hall.

LGBT university housing: room for improvement

I just hope when my kids head off to college that the things that are on the forefront of their mind is ‘Wow, I can’t wait to go lay out on Bascom’ instead of ‘Wow, where am I living and how am I gonna be safe?’” Cass Henriques

sophomore, UW-Madison

would live freshman year. Navigating the transition from high school to college often proves challenging for incoming freshmen, but for Henriques, a trans man,

of University Housing faculty member, until he finally found his new home in Phillips Hall. Located in the Lakeshore neighborhood, Phillips Hall offers its residents co-ed floors

and private bathrooms. “We found Phillips and thought that was great because, wow, it’s just your own bathroom,” Henriques said. Despite the residence hall’s inclusive features, Henriques said the process was frustrating for both him and his parents. “There should be: One, more options for this and, two, why do you have to pay so much more to live here?” he said. “It should be accommodating, not [requiring] you to pay a whole extra grand or whatever.” Virginia Olin, a University Housing assignment coordinator, understood Henriques’ grievances but acknowledged there is currently no infrastructure in place to aid students financially on this matter. “Even though Phillips might cost more, the student may weigh it out and say, ‘Well, you know, unfortunately that is the cost of being me,’” Olin said. “And that’s hard, that’s really hard.” While Phillips Hall seemed like the best option for Henriques that

housing page 4

Dejope Residence Hall Natatorium D Campus

Memorial Union


University Ave.



e ro


The Student Activity Center (SAC)

West Johnson

West Dayton Street

Gordon Commons

Newell’s Deli (Smith Hall)

Regent Street

re St

LGBT Campus Center (Red Gym)

Helen C. White Library

South Park Street


mong excitement, Cass Henriques’ admittance to the University of Wisconsin-Madison two years ago brought with it a great deal of anxiety and a mounting list of uncertainties, atop which loomed questions of where he

concerns of privacy and safety were amplified by his gender identification. By identifying as a transgender individual, he did not fit neatly into the widely accepted social notion that a clear binary between male and female exists. Henriques spent much of that summer conducting research, mulling over various housing options and “trekking” to Madison from Minnesota to speak with a Division

North Randall Ave

Story by Adelina Yankova


Gender-inclusive bathrooms are located in numerous buildings around campus, including those noted above.

news 4


Action Project Issue, February 2014

Survey exposes minority faculty dissatisfaction


Story By Conor Murphy hile college students need a diverse selection of faculty members to provide multiple perspectives and viewpoints in

the educational environment, a recent survey from the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute shows minority faculty members feel less satisfied with their departmental workplace environment, according to the Study on Faculty Worklife.

Until recently, faculty members have reported feeling satisfied within their departments, according to the triennial survey. “In this last one, not only did minority faculty fill out the survey, it was a significant decrease in any climaterelated findings from what I saw last time, and that decline was alarming,” WISELI’s Executive and Research Director Jenifer Sheridan said. The decline in faculty satisfaction was concentrated in the survey responses of female faculty, faculty of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer faculty members stating feeling isolated and colleagues and department chairs treating them with less respect, according to the survey results. “People feel very identifiable when they fill the survey out,” Sheridan said. WISELI has been monitoring trends of minority faculty members in comparison to the white male majority on cam-

search committees to educate unconscious bias within the hiring process, according to Luis Piñero, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Workforce Equity and Diversity. “Different schools and colleges request that these presentations be brought to their unit,” Vice Chancellor Piñero said. “For example, in the College of Letters and Science, the largest college on our campus, Gary Sandefur, the former dean, required all search committees for faculty to have at least one member of the committee attend a WISELI session.” Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff Steve Stern has presented at the WISELI workshops on how to combat unconscious bias in faculty hiring, helping the hiring committees to build a diverse pool of applicants. “It’s not like you’re living in the era of Jim Crow in the south, the discrimination is more subtle, it’s unconscious,” Stern said. Representation of minori-

“It’s not like you’re living in the era of Jim Crow in the South. The discrimination is more subtle, it’s unconscious.” Steve Stern

vice provost for faculty and staff


housing from page 3 year, his search for a single room closer to the heart of campus led him to his present residence at Susan B. Davis Hall, where he again pays a higher housing rate due to the dormitory’s unique features. Though he said he enjoys the benefits of having his own space, other concerns have arisen. “Great, I have a single room, but the communal bathroom situation is awful. You walk into the shower and there’s [just] a shower curtain,” he said, referring to the showers’ lack of locking doors. “I just think you need to overhaul all the dorms everywhere to be more safe and more assured.” While shower security may be an issue in a handful of the older dorms, Olin said all newer residence halls feature a single-stall bathroom

on the floor to ensure residents’ comfort and allow them to perform daily functions at ease. Additionally, in an effort to expand safe spaces for non-binary students, the university launched the Open House Gender Learning Community, situated on the fourth floor of Phillips Hall, at the beginning of the 2013-’14 academic school year. As part of Open House, students take a one-credit seminar centered on issues of gender and sexuality to open up a dialogue and look at these topics through a new lens, according to Residence Life Coordinator Jon Tingley. This year, Open House, one of the most diverse housing communities on campus, is home to 48 residents of different races, ages and gender identifications. Perhaps if he had started school a

year later, Open House would have been a viable option for Henriques during his first year as well. Learning community or not, Henriques said he believes the biggest challenge for trans* students on campus is the scarcity of accommodating facilities. “Phillips is great and that whole Open House is amazing, but that shouldn’t be the only option. Like, Phillips [is] in a different time zone,” he joked. “We need one of those here on this side of campus, too.” While Open House is the only community of its kind on campus, Olin assured there are multiple opportunities for non-binary students to feel comfortable in most campus buildings and said she and her colleagues often work one-on-one with students to find the best option.

pus since 2003, and Sheridan said she has seen a downward trend in the overall response rate over the last 11 years. However, there was a 3 percent increase in minority faculty responses in 2012. The feelings of isolation could stem from the fact that faculty of color represent 18.2 percent of the faculty on campus, according to the Office of the Provost 2012 Data Digest. While the overall number of faculty members of color has increased over the last ten years, the number of black and American Indian faculty members has all decreased since 2004, according to the Data Digest. To combat this, WISELI began offering programs in 2004 to members of faculty

ties is key within departments for faculty of color, LGBTQ faculty and female faculty, and increasing diversity within departments can be facilitated with a diverse pipeline of applicants, according to Stern. The Office of the Provost now offers grants to help schools provide resources for bringing in more applicants, in an effort to create a more diverse option for hiring, according to the Office of the Provost’s Faculty and Staff website. Piñero said that the programs WISELI offers to combat potential unconscious bias have helped educate the majority faculty members on campus, and that the programs have had an impact on the overall hiring process.

Ultimately, Olin said she has the same goal for all students. “I think it’s helping people have a greater sense of awareness of someone’s humanity,” she said. “That’s really what it is: making sure that people always remember that we’re talking about people and lives and fellow college students and fellow Badgers.” As for Henriques, he said he

believes there will be a “revolution” in terms of gender awareness and acceptance within the coming years, much to the benefit of future generations. “I just hope when my kids head off to college that the things that are on the forefront of their mind is ‘Wow, I can’t wait to go lay out on Bascom’ instead of ‘Wow, where am I living and how am I gonna be safe?’” he said.

Gender and documentation The application form for certain University Housing positions requires applicants to identify their gender as either male or female, a fact Henriques discovered recently when applying for a job at Gordon Commons. Additionally, able-bodied males over 18 must be registered for the Selective Services to be eligible

candidates, according to Henriques. He found himself in a paradox when, as a trans man, he did not enlist, but identified as male. “What do I say, how am I supposed to work around this?” Henriques said. “I don’t wanna lie to you. So that was weird, that caught me off guard actually.”


Action Project Issue, February 2014 5 l

From the runway to campus-wide equality Story by Gillian McBride


he day of the pageant, I just wasn’t even nervous,” laughs Alexandria Mason, a freshman, hopeful journalist, dancer, published writer and the 2014 winner of the “Miss Black and Gold: Diversity of a Woman” scholarship pageant. Five months of preparation for Mason and six other women culminated the night of Feb. 3, before a crowd of cheering friends and family. The pageant is an extension of the historic mission of sponsor Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. In the words of Gamma Epsilon Chapter President Jamal Matthews, the pageant serves as a platform to celebrate leadership by women of the University of Wisconsin-Madison while fostering community, not competition. These opportunities have not always existed. To T.J. Sargent, Greek life coordinator for the UW Interfraternity Council, the present situation is best understood in its historical context. The first Greek associations at UW-Madison were established as social clubs born of literary associations soon after the university’s founding in 1848. A university policy that prohibited student affiliation with these organizations resulted in the formation of early fraternities and required they function as exclusive, secret societies. “In the creation of these organizations, you see groups of individuals getting together around a common ideal,” Sargent said. These groups were composed of predominantly upper-class, white male students, who comprised the majority of university students at the time. The late 1800s saw the first acceptances of female and non-

white students into universities. However, those populations were systematically denied entrance to such student associations. In 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity was founded at Cornell University as a community for black men who were

prompted a reassessment of responsibility and accountability by campus Greek organizations. “I think it’s a wonderful example of a group who said, ‘Something went wrong, how do we fix this, and what do we do internally first?’” Sargent said.

“There aren’t too many places on campus and in general where women are truly celebrated... especially for communities of color.” Alicia Montague-Keels host, 2014 pageant

prohibited from joining fraternities. The narrative had changed for good, as identity became integral to the existence of these new associations. “Now that we’ve created our own group we have certain identities and values and characteristics, and we have to build our own history from that point,” Sargent explained. According to Sargent, Greek organizations began to set precedents that became fundamental in the promotion and retention of diversity on college campuses. Matthews said the mission and programming of Alpha Phi Alpha promotes voices from all walks of life. This function has been especially important in light of the darker history of UW-Madison Greek life. In 1988, the local chapter of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity hosted a slave auction party involving members wearing blackface and Afro wigs, sparking protests on their property ending in eight arrests. March 16, 2012, members of Delta Upsilon fraternity hurled a glass bottle at two black women walking across the chapter’s property, while yelling several racist and classist slurs. Sargent said these incidents

“It definitely brought about a discussion within the community.” To Sargent, it is important for leadership within campus Greek life to respond to these incidents because “We don’t exist just to process people. We are here to be a home…an inclusive community.” The collaboration among the four governing councils for Greek organizations to produce a written statement concerning the 2012 incident is one example of a new narrative of cooperation before competition, according to Sargent. Matthews commends this change and cites several university officials, including Dean of Students Lori Berquam, who have helped create a more responsible plan to integrate all types of diversity within campus life but said “We’re not where we need to be.” Alicia Montague-Keels, the host of this year’s pageant and the 2011 pageant winner, says “diversity is integrated in every aspect” of her campus experience but that she has witnessed the need for improvement. “It’s hard for faculty to know how to address the issue when



they’re not in class with students, not living on the same floor as students, not hearing their experiences,” she said. “An institution can only do so much to bring minorities in,” Mason agreed. “They can’t make you feel comfortable.” Mason believes the difference begins with open-mindedness. “I’ve been prepared to deal with a predominantly white academic setting from high school. You get used to it, you open your mind, you learn that a person’s race has nothing to do with them,” she said. Learning about the experiences of her fellow pageant contestants proved to her that appearances are irrelevant to genuine connections. “It’s about what we’ve been around...and how we all see things differently,” Mason said. Montague-Keels understands from her experience as a house fellow in Lakeshore housing that, for this reason, students alone can determine if their needs are being met. “The most meaningful conversations I’ve had about diversity have been in small groups or one-on-one with students,” Montague-Keels said. “And the most effective events I’ve gone to have been those run by student organizations.” Matthews said he believes real change begins with these discussions about diversity. He said the dialogue, especially in academic settings, tends to remain superficial from a fear of being wrong. “Professors could delve deeper…but sometimes it takes someone needing to be uncomfortable, to not be afraid to open those conversations,” Matthews said. One way to overcome this tendency that Matthews said “goes for both sides” is to be aware of the problem, of privilege and

the history of race relations for UW-Madison and the country as a whole. “Too often we are caught up in the me, the individual, and if we apply these issues as a collective, we understand that there’s always something to learn from somebody,” Matthews explained. Montague-Keels emphasized the importance of student organizations, especially Greek associations, in facilitating these conversations. She believes it is important “not to stop doing the work you’re doing, but to also evaluate the work you’re doing … and to integrate that into the UW experience.” For Montague-Keels, who at first was hesitant about participating, the pageant became a life-changing experience and an example of work she continues to admire. “There aren’t too many places on campus and in general where women are truly celebrated... especially for communities of says a lot to celebrate these women; to bring us out of the shadows on campus; to bring us into the light, put us on pedestals and say, ‘We appreciate you and we acknowledge you,’” she said. Beyond recognizing beauty in diversity, the pageant provided a space for her and her fellow contestants where “We got to learn a lot about ourselves and about uplifting each other.” Mason enjoyed this aspect, and said “If [people] don’t like you, you can’t change it...but I like to try and change it,” she said. To students unsure about how to begin change on the small scale, Mason speaks from personal experience. “Just give things a chance [and] keep an open mind. Because,” she admits, “I’d never done a pageant before.”

in focus Recruiting and retaining future Badgers who complete the conversation 6


Action Project Issue, February 2014

Story by Melissa Howison


simple taste of Madison’s scenery and school spirit is all it takes to clinch many incoming students’ commitment to the Badger family. However, had Maria Espino been exposed to the environment pre-enrollment, she said there is a good chance the ethnic uniformity of the student body would have dissuaded her from becoming the junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison she is today. Espino, a Latina student, never toured the campus before registering for freshman year, and is now among the approximately 4.4 percent of Hispanic and Latino/a students currently earning their undergraduate degrees. “The only thing that really got me here was the fact that I had that scholarship,” Espino said. “To this day that’s the only reason why I feel like I’m still here.” Despite a decades-long effort to diversify the campus community, people of color still comprise only approximately 14.8 percent of undergraduates, and approximately 14.3 percent of the total 42,820 students on campus as of the Fall 2012 semester, according to the Office of the Registrar. The perception that those numbers are not equalizing rapidly enough is the product of many factors, including UW-Madison’s unique model of academic decentralization and a historically wavering commitment to diversity, according to Ryan Adserias, a Ph.D. Student in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. Adserias, who also co-chairs the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee, said he hopes the new strategic diversity plan will streamline policies for eco-

nomic efficiency and harness the power of UW-Madison’s shared governance structure to kick-start an era of more sustainable inclusivity. The ad hoc committee released its preliminary report Feb. 18 to guide the coming months of planning discussions. For one, Adserias and his colleagues are nullifying outdated identity constraints by “placing cognitive, emotional and behavioral disabilities or differences under that diversity tent.” In doing so, they intend to further a campus tradition of inclusion also lauded by Tess Arenas, the director of Service Learning and a faculty associate in the Chicano and Latino Studies program. For instance, the university now provides a preferred name policy, which allows each student, faculty and staff member to assert their own identity. Adserias said much of the effort was driven by student activism and is symbolic of how quickly administrative demands can fall flat if not grounded in a clear student demand. “Students have no idea how powerful they are on this campus,” he said. “At other institutions, the administrators are like ‘just wait four years and they’ll be gone,’ but here if there’s a loud enough voice for things, things happen.” UW-Madison’s highly autonomous departmental structure makes it largely resistant to centralized direction, according to Adserias, which complicates implementation. However, he said the new plan hopes to couple coalition-building with increased accountability to introduce “micro-level, micro changes that need to accumulate over time to change culture.” Adserias pointed to the results of a recent alignment of outreach services as one way 7 l

coalitions have benefited previously unfulfilled constituencies on campus. He said Crossroads, for instance, emerged from cooperation between the the Multicultural Student Center and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender campus center to assist LGBTQ people of color.

As a member of the now-dissolved Minority Student Coalition during her time as a student, Arenas participated in the first-ever campus climate review when the university assembled the Steering Committee on Minority Affairs in the mid-1980s.

“The fact that I know I’m just one of those small [statistics] that are here, but I’m going to be one of those [statistics] that actually graduate college.”

“Through the storming, forming and norming process of getting groups to work together, they’ve really gotten those offices to work together and click and move in the same direction,” Adserias said. “And if we can figure out ways of building those strategic coalitions across all kinds of different areas on campus, we can be way stronger.” Though for some, such as Espino, the bottom-up model can daunt student organizations, and the intrinsic time lag it takes for grassroots campaigns to effectuate change is an unfairly high price to pay. “I don’t want to assimilate to something I don’t want to be, but at the end of the day that’s what I have to do to be considered a person in the running to whatever I want,” Espino said. Arenas echoed Espino’s sentiment and said critical improvement is contingent on the administration pledging itself to a more encompassing definition of what it means to be a UW-Madison student.

Maria Espino UW-Madison senior

The committee released the Holley Report in 1987 and in it, the Minority Student Recruitment and Retention Subcommittee called out numerous neglected minority programs “designed more to appease minority constituencies and outside reviewers than to excel in their assigned missions.” The report advised the administration’s subsequent drafting of The Madison Plan, which outlined goals such as including an ethnic studies course in all undergraduate curriculums, opening a campus multicultural student center, hiring more faculty of color and doubling the number of incoming freshman of color; all in a span of five years. To that tune, every department now recognizes the ethnic studies requirement and the Multicultural Student Center was founded in 1988. Espino said the MSC has since become her “home away from home,” when being one of only a few women of color in large lectures becomes overwhelming.

“You can go in there and actually see more diversity and more ethnic cultures, which is what we wish we would be able to see on campus more often,” Espino said. Espino’s experience hints at The Madison Plan’s failure to enrich classrooms with students of varied ethnic origins. According to the Office of the Registrar, 547 of the incoming freshmen in 1995 identified as people of color compared to 473 in 1991; a 15.6 percent increase far short of the intended duplication. Overall, enrollment of non-white students crawled to 8.9 percent in the fall of 1995, up slightly from 7.3 percent in the fall 1991. Dissatisfaction over its statistical outcome lingered in The Madison’s Plan’s shadow until the UW System took up diversity efforts in 1997 and renewed hope, this time across all UW campuses, by releasing Plan 2008. Declarations of bolstering minority representation were not lost on Plan 2008 authors. They avowed a 50 percent reduction in the gap between the minority student retention rate and that of the student body as a whole by the time the new plan expired in 2008. Espino said herein beats the heart of diversity; whether or not students who enroll at UW-Madison see their education through to a diploma. “That’s basically what has been motivating me,” Espino said. “That fact that I know I’m just one of those small [statistics] that are here, but I’m going to be one of those [statistics] that actually graduate college.” During the decade in which Plan 2008 was active, minority retention rates exceeded expectations, rising 55 percent closer to those of the entire student body. Plan 2008 nonetheless left Espino wanting, because the snippets of success did little to achieve her symmetric ideal. “To me, that’s a diverse campus; 50 per-

cent,” she said. Plan 2008 also championed recruiting more in-state students of color “until the proportions of entering in-state students of color minimally equal the corresponding racial/ethnic proportions of the Wisconsin high school graduation class qualified for admission.” “Qualified for admission” notwithstanding, the percentage of in-state freshmen who identify with non-white ethnicities remains far below state-wide graduation rates for high school students of the same background. The high school graduation rate of black students was 68.2 percent in 2012, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. However, only 4.6 percent of the 2,959 in-state freshmen in the fall of 2012 were black. During that timeframe, the high school graduation rate of American Indian students was 77 percent, yet those individuals comprised only 1.6 percent of in-state freshmen. The Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Experience is one of the ways in which Plan 2008 attempted to remedy those numbers. PEOPLE awards scholarships to deserving students of lowincome or minority status, and currently operates in public school districts in Madison, Milwaukee, Racine and Waukesha. Espino contributes much of her academic success to PEOPLE, because she said financial and scholastic realities prevented her from considering college until she received its application in the mail. In the future, she hopes more funding can go toward actually placing representatives in underserved neighborhoods to clarify expectations of applicants and compensate for the disadvantages of poor schooling.

“It’s a prestigious school, that’s why I understand it’s hard to get into,” Espino said of UW-Madison. “It’s dreadful to get into, but at the end of the day, if you want to diversify a school, you must be able to understand a student’s background ... a lot of it’s not that they’re not mentally capable of it, it’s the fact that they don’t know how to do it, and they’re not prepared because of where they’re from.” Plan 2008 also inspired the Multicultural Learning Community, a residential college located in Witte Hall, formed in 2003. The amount of available funding stands to define the future of diversity policies, and Adserias said he hopes stakeholders will be receptive to the economizing recommendations outlined in the new diversity plan. Among other things, the plan calls for the creation of a Diversity Research Institute, a data aggregate to facilitate inter-departmental communication and eliminate costly redundancies. “We like to grow our own kind of stuff, but because we’re decentralized, we grow a lot of our own but we don’t share it with anyone else in the institution,” Adserias said of experimental learning techniques. A principle reporting system could counteract inefficiency as well as track progress and highlight successes, which could then be turned around to collect alumni donations, according to Adserias. “We can probably drum up a significant chunk of money once we can show that we’re going to be good stewards of it,” he said. Adserias views strategic spending and fundraising methods as instrumental to whether or not diversity initiatives can overcome future budget cuts in the face of a tuition freeze and reduced state support. In the meantime, the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee’s preliminary report

charges UW-Madison’s Facilities, Planning and Management with evaluating spaces across campus where services for underrepresented populations can operate. Housed in the Red Gym as they are now, many of those accommodations are limited in their scope and ability to shine during campus tours, according to Adserias. Increasing the visibility of those services and redesigning campus tour routes could go a long way to inform not only those already on campus of UW-Madison’s offerings, but also potential students, so the university is not relying on luck to enroll students who mirror Espino’s situation. “It’s really hard to sell somebody on coming to an institution that doesn’t have a whole lot of readily accessible representation that looks like you or thinks like you or comes from your same background,” Adserias said. The preliminary report will go through each of the shared governance committees on campus for review and polishing before adoption, which Adserias is hoping will happen before June 30 so implementation of the formal recommendations can begin in the fall. Meanwhile, Espino is working toward graduating and obtaining her doctorate in a yet-to-be-determined area of higher education policy. She hopes to serve as the role model for Latina women she wished she had seen more of in administrative positions when navigating college for herself. “Everybody who really knows me knows I give my life for PEOPLE,” Espino said. “Programs like those really motivate students who have nothing to motivate them. All you think about is all that negativity you’re surrounded by, and that one person that tells you [that] you have a chance is the person that’s going to lead you somewhere.”


news 8


Action Project Issue, February 2014

International students strive to make a home at UW-Madison


Story by Alex Bernell n international student from China was recently sitting at a table in

Dejope Residence Hall talking to one of his American friends in English, when another Chinese student saw him and attempted to translate for the American student, believing the international student did not speak proficient English. Such assumptions made by both American and international students are examples of common dilemmas some international students experience daily at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. International students face many roadblocks when they arrive at the university, according to students and administrators. Cultural assumptions are one of them, but often the most important is language barriers. Although UW-Madison offers an English as a Second Language class, Cecilia Miao, a former international student, said “the class teaches important writing and reading skills to succeed in college, but c o nve r s at i o n a l English and American lingos are not covered in the class.” Miao founded the organization Channel C during her time on campus and said the group’s mission is to hold conversations through online multime-

dia content to debunk misunderstandings between the Chinese student body and the host communities. Additionally, Miao said she hopes to inspire ongoing dialogues that build understanding and trust between different cultural groups, according to its website.

this issue. She said the best way to foster community is to encourage integrated groups. Both Cox and Magpie Martinez, director of Diversity Programs for the D-Squad, the collection of residence hall diversity coordinators, said there are groups and programs on campus designed for international students, and Americans are welcome to join them to foster this type of integration. However, Miao and the anonymous student agreed having integrated groups is difficult because of the different cultural backgrounds of international students and their American peers. They also said they face social stigmas in regards to having both Chinese and American friends. “There is a pressure to choose between groups and it is very hard to have a good amount of friends

ably have to have two parties; one being with my Chinese friends and the other with my American friends.” According to Cox, Martinez, Miao and the anonymous student, another issue international students face at UW-Madison is the culture shock, including the way UW-Madison students party and drink. Miao and the anonymous student said they feel this creates an obstacle for them to make strong connections and friendships with American students, unless these students are patient with them. Cox and Martinez said there are programs to help international students become aware of American culture, but only to an extent. For example, Cox mentioned how UW-Madison’s program, Building Relationships in Diverse Global Environments, pairs an under



Channel C ­—A multimedia project promoting cultural integration “Our vision is to see all students regardless of origin, race, culture or religion can find common grounds to connect with each other and build trust and friendships.” Find out more at

T h e Chinese student, who wished to remain anonymous, agreed with Miao’s statement. Miao said that for international students, not being able to speak conversational English well “hurts their confidence to speak with Americans.” Additionally, Laurie Cox, director of International Student Services and assistant dean at UW-Madison, said she was not aware of any specific programs that address conversational English issues at the university, but she said her office could “easily create a workshop to explain lingos and social communication.” A survey sent out to international students showed “their number one concern is making American friends,” but Cox said she does not know of any programs addressing









who are Chinese, while having a good amount who are American, and vice versa at

graduate international student with an American peer. She said one of the goals of the program is for American students to act “as cultural guides for inter-

“There is a pressure to choose between groups and it is very hard to have a good amount of friends who are Chinese, while having a good amount who are American, and vice versa at UW-Madison.”

UW-Madison international student

UW-Madison,” the anonymous student said. Miao said while finding a balance can be difficult, it can be achieved. However, she added, “If I had a birthday I would prob-

national students.” BRIDGE only includes 190 students each semester. 90 of them are international students, and according to Cox, admission into the program is competitive.

BRIDGE ­—New international students are paired with U.S. students to learn and share customs and traditions. “BRIDGE helps international students connect with U.S. students during their first year to assist with the initial adjustment to the university and to the new culture.” Find out more at bridge/index.html.

Martinez said that UW-Madison is welcoming to international students, especially in an orientation for international students living in university housing, which teaches them about campus and pop culture at UW-Madison. Martinez also said D-Squad offers a program called Cooking and Conversation, which provides students with a forum to make food and give a short presentation about their culture. She said this allows them to teach others about their culture, while learning about the cultures of others as well. Still, Martinez said she is unaware of any educational programs about stereotypes and how to remedy them, which is something she would like to see changed. Although the anonymous student said they face stereotypes on a “weekly basis,” Miao said she does not feel Americans judge her often. Cox said according to the survey her office sends to international students, one of the biggest surprises for international students is “how friendly Americans are and how willing they are to help even when they do not know them.” Regardless, the individuals agreed the university and community could be doing more to create a more inviting campus climate for international students at UW-Madison.

Action Project Issue, February 2014




First Wave offers culture, community UW-Madison program is the first to fuse scholarship with urban hiphop and spoken word performance.


Story by Jonny Shapiro

ost people have little or no exposure to spoken word. Maybe a YouTube video posted to a friend’s Facebook wall or a clip from HBO’s “Def Poetry.” MTV doesn’t carve out a ton of time for it and you’re not going to hear it on mainstream radio. Spoken word is rap music without the frills, and people love their frills. But take out the cars and chains, cut the beats and fame, and spoken word is what you’re left with. Rhythmic poetry. A landscape of words crafted to flow smoothly so that background music isn’t necessary or even wanted. The University of WisconsinMadison instituted a program in fall of 2007 to foster this art form and give interested students an opportunity to get involved.

“We’ve definitely made our mark and we’re going to continue to grow. ” Willie Ney executive director First Wave

First Wave is an urban arts movement that was brought to campus from the Bay Area by Executive Director Willie Ney with the mission of bringing multicultural spoken art to a wider college audience. Ney witnessed the youth poetry mecca in California, shook some hands and used his connections to start a pipeline program for students here. “We wanted to give the brilliant students of the hip-hop generation and spoken art the chance to reproduce what happened at this annual festival in California,” Ney said.

“They just vibe and come together as a community once a year.” To Dominique Ricks, a member of the sixth cohort of students from Baton Rouge, La., the program means “substantial progress, not just for UW, but for the entire world. We come from all over, and our dreams and goals range.” The program is part of the Office of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement, and the group takes pride in the multiculturalism found in urban art. Ney says the art “forms a community,” adding that “you don’t need many resources, and people of all backgrounds are drawn to it to address issues in their lives that get marginalized.” The cutting-edge program is one of the first of its kind to fuse hip-hop theater pieces with a university scholarship. First Wave takes 15 new students each year out of an application pool that’s doubling in size annually, and accepted applicants are awarded a full scholarship to the university. Each class, including a small crew of fifth-year seniors, works together on productions throughout the year. Urban art inherently forges a sense of community. It is an art form based around the passions and emotions created by the same streetlights above different heads. It’s art that is inspired by a city landscape that’s shared by so many people. The art feels like it comes from everyone in town. In First Wave, the art actually does come from everyone. The pieces are created by drawing on individual strengths from different students to create a whole. “As students in the program

stephanie daher/the daily cardinal

courtney kessler/the daily cardinal

Students in the First Wave program host a performance and open mic event on the first Friday of every month at the Red Gym. we learn so much from each other as artists and individuals and bring that back to our communities,” says Ricks, who is currently working on creating a TED talk to be delivered at Louisiana State University next month. The program immediately started to gain recognition as being one of the first of its

kind. In 2009 it received the Wisconsin Governor’s Arts Award, the highest arts achievement award in the state, as well as the National Governor’s Arts Award in 2010. The ensemble performed on Broadway, at the Apollo Theater, and travelled overseas to Great Britain to perform at the Cultural Olympiad to kick off the 2012 Olympic Games. The NCAA National Convention in San Diego also saw the First Wave artists perform as a headliner. “We’ve definitely made our mark and we’re going to continue to grow,” Ney said. But when you go to see a First Wave performance, you’re probably not looking at the next Kanye West or Jay-Z. Instead, you’re watching mostly future school teachers and writers. Though some alumni have gone on to work in music or theater—one student is currently in a Milwaukee production of “In the Heights”—most major in education. An astounding 100 percent of First Wave students who apply are accepted into the highly coveted and highly selective education program, Teach for America. This compares to the miniscule 11 percent who are accepted nationally, according to The Washington Post. “As a graduating senior I’ve come to see that the program is transformative. The program has taught me how to effectively market my talents and how to

network as not only an artist but as an academic,” Ricks said. “I’ve learned creative processes and made connections that will make it easier for me to thrive as an educator and an artist.” By producing such a tightknit community of artists and providing them with the resources they need to succeed, the First Wave program maintains a 97 percent graduation rate, compared to the university’s six-year graduation rate of only 83.7 percent. “A very high GPA is critical. We set a high standard,” Ney said. “The students get jobs of their choice, most of the time any job they apply for. They also get into graduate programs of their choice. One student received a full scholarship to a doctorate program in sociology here at UW. First Wave helps them be successful in whatever they want. It’s not a training ground to become the next best rapper, although we do have the talent to produce one. We support the students in whatever they want to do.” First Wave’s most popular event is a monthly open mic, held on the first Friday of every month at the Red Gym. Featured students from the program host the event and welcome other students to try their hand at the rising art form. The students are set to host a festival in April, presenting their original pieces of poetry and theater.

opinion The Dirty Bird sex and the student body 10


Action Project Issue, February 2014

Respect sexuality by moving past stigma and shaming Michael PODGERS sex columnist


e all have individual desires, concerns (fears even) and the spectrum of sexuality goes beyond the gay/straight/ bi triptych. Each of us arguably has an unique sexuality. Religion, class, gender identity, cultural and racial identities and life experiences all play unique roles in shaping sexuality and how it blossoms. There are two things that many students may struggle with while on campus within the context of sexuality: stigma and shame. What I refer to puts undue burdens and stress on our sex lives and that does little good. Unfortunately, all sorts of sexual stigmas still exist on the UW-Madison campus. It is up to Badgers to create a culture on campus that is open to diverse forms of sexuality and foster an environment that respects them. As a community we must recognize that removing sexual stigma from our lives is a freeing experience for us all. It allows us to remove the pressures and angst that can sometimes accompany sex. And that’s pretty darn tootin’! Sexual stigmas show up in many forms. Many subjects related to sex are usually accom-

panied by a stigma. Yet, many of these stigmas are socially constructed and exist only because sex remains a taboo subject. Then there is shame surrounding STIs; many STIs are curable and the rest are treatable. Yet many other illnesses are not stigmatized nor shamed. Even getting STI screenings can be a difficult experience. For some people it’s fear of being seen at a clinic, while regular STI screenings (one to three per year depending on our habits) are actually incredibly mature and responsible moves. It shows we care about our health and want to responsibly keep our partners informed and healthy too. Fear of the results is also a hindrance, yet many sexually active people may have already had an STI: HPV, which is also known as the common cold of STIs, is very common and usually runs its cycle unnoticed, with no side effects. One in four of us will have an STI before we’re 25 years old. While that is concerning for some, it isn’t a justification for shaming. If we find out we have chlamydia it’s actually a super quick and easy trip to the pharmacist for some medication and we’re good (OK, we can’t have sex for seven to 10 days, which is a total bummer, but hey, we can get through that)! No need for shame. This brings me to another point: shame and stigma about what kind of sex or how

much sex we chose to have or not have. There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma as long as the sex is consensual between all parties involved, and hopefully enjoyable too. Most importantly, if we’re making informed decisions, we should be celebrating people taking the initiative to do so—more power to us. Whether we abstain from sex or go for BDSM, whether we like monogamous relationships or seven partners at a time, respecting peoples’ individual choices is important in lessening shame and stigma. It’s not important what we do or how we do it, but that we do it with respect for our partners, get consent and have fun!

hurting and discouraging somebody from exploring their sexuality to the fullest. It’s called not yucking people’s yums. On the flip side, we should also be aware not to force people to yum their yucks. So easy, right? There is no reason to stigmatize STIs. They’re often just like any other infection. We go to the doctors, get our treatment and move on. Why is it not the same with an STI?

It’s important to keep an open discourse about sex and work to lower the stigma and shame often associated with it. The discourse ultimately comes down to mutual respect and knowing its okay to enjoy what gets us hot and bothered. If you’re interested in learning more about how shaming and stigmatization affect UW-Madison campus, email Michael at

As a community we must recognize that removing sexual stigma from our lives is a freeing experience for us all.

There are solutions available to minimize the shame and stigma that surround sexuality. We can make these a part of our everyday lives—they’re that simple. It all starts with our mouths. Vocabulary is a huge source of power. We know that slurs hurt and that’s why we don’t use them, but describing sex acts as gross, weird or messed up, we are potentially

White privilege continues to plague American progress Tony Pastagnoli opinion columnist


e should be pissed that black men in America today stand a one-in-three chance of going to jail. We should be pissed that the unemployment rate for blacks in Dane County is at 25.2 percent, compared to 4.8 percent for whites. We should be pissed that the achievement gap between white students and black students in Wisconsin is the widest in the nation. In fact, we should be pissed that the widespread ignorance of these facts is the key explanation as to why we’ve never reached full racial equality in this country. The first step to solving a problem is admitting that there is one, and sadly, too many white people reject the idea that they have a privilege based on the color of their skin and that it is fueling the fires of racial injustice. Regarding the aforementioned statistics, they are not startling because black people commit more crimes, prefer to be unemployed or are lazier in

school. The systematic injustices facing people of color come from a variety of failed policies upheld by failed politicians. Let’s start by acknowledging the school-to-prison pipeline system, because as the late Whitney Houston said, “I believe the children are our future.” Zero-tolerance policies, absurd dress codes and an ever-increasing presence of police officers in schools are a result of the (failed) war on drugs and a culture that regards black boys who wear hoodies as “thugs.” The schoolto-prison pipeline system is a morally bankrupt strategy aimed at throwing disenfranchised youth in jail for the profit of those who run the prisons. The idea that “misbehaving” students are being handcuffed and thrown into cop cars, rather than sent to school counselors, doesn’t reflect well on America’s education system in the slightest. Moreover, when these occurrences are disproportionately affecting students of color, it sets the entire country on a downward spiral toward a chaotic future of even greater racial inequality. The sickest element of this entire issue is that there are those who operate the prisons and

engage in a disgusting partnership with local authorities so that they can both profit off the mass incarceration of black people. Latino/as are victims of this atrocity as well. Meanwhile, far too many people of color who are not behind bars are looking for work. I’m sure you’ve heard it’s more likely for a white man to get hired with a criminal record than a black man without even one, even if the two are equally qualified for the same job. That is an example of “white privilege” right there. The fundamental reality cannot be ignored, because when employers refuse to give jobs to people of color, they are directly responsible for the issues of poverty, crime and racism that constantly disenfranchise their communities. The challenges that face the African-American community represent the greatest injustices that still plague our country. Yes, we elected Barack Obama twice, but that doesn’t mean the struggle is over. In fact, all you have to do is recognize the unprecedented disrespect he and his family have been victims of since he took office to realize that the right wing continues to pander to its racist

base of angry, old and often rich white men all in an effort to maintain their power over others. The intense obstruction Obama’s moderate, yet socialjustice-driven agenda faces from Republicans is a reflection of institutionalized racism and the inequalities people of color face on a daily basis. The only way this would be more obvious is if every time a black man applied for a job, it would be required he show his birth certificate. History will mark Obama’s presidency as one that was not treated fairly or equally by an entire political party. This is why I love the month of February. Black History Month is a chance for all of us to discover and appreciate the unparalleled achievements made by African Americans despite the disadvantages they have faced, and continue to face, in this country. It is a month where we celebrate the richness of African-American culture, as well as recognize the resiliency of the human spirit. Of course, you don’t have to be black to cherish this month. Obviously, I am not. Likewise, my sister isn’t a lesbian, but she still loves LGBT Pride month in June because she faithfully supports equality for people like

me who are LGBT. The purpose of this month is to unite all Americans so that we can be grateful for the contributions made by freedom fighters, musical pioneers, scientists and many others, as well as understand the ongoing struggle so many of our brothers and sisters face in this country. Knowing the past is crucial so that we can assess where we are in the present. Are we where we ought to be? Obviously not. The modern discrimination in schools, the workplace and voting booths (voter ID laws are just another way to turn people of color away, after all) threaten the American Dream with an American nightmare. I can never be satisfied with my country when I know others who also live here are left behind with little opportunity. So yes, we should be pissed at the broken system that leaves our friends and family of color at such disadvantages, but more importantly, we need to understand that it is up to all of us to fix it. That requires all of us to have the uneasy, yet vital conversations of racial injustices and white privilege. What’s your two-cents on the issue? Please send all feedback to


view Cardinal View editorials represent The Daily Cardinal’s organizational opinion. Each editorial is crafted independent of news coverage.

Diversity Plan drafts need to be accessible to campus The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee, charged with drafting a new diversity plan, released preliminary suggestions Feb. 18 for improving aspects of diversity and inclusivity at the university. While we are glad these plans are in motion, we believe the success of the plan depends on campus input and making sure this draft—no matter how rough it may be—is available to the campus community. The university’s previous diversity plan expired in 2008. For the past six years, UW-Madison has been functioning without a solid diversity plan in place. We see this as a major problem, and we appreciate that the committee is moving the process along. While we assume the diversity committee plans to eventually release a draft to campus, we believe a digestible, easy-to-understand executive summary would greatly

increase the likelihood that individuals will understand and engage with the document. Right now, the current draft is 28 pages long and we expect the length of the final plan to remain consistent. For this reason, it is unrealistic to expect the average student to dissect this copy and provide meaningful input on it without significant effort put into understanding the jargon. If the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee hopes to receive meaningful feedback on the plan’s drafts, it is imperative that these documents can be easily understood by busy students, faculty and staff members, because at this point, fostering discussion is the most important next step in the process. The committee plans to have a second round of campus feedback sessions this semester. We believe for these conversations to be as fruitful as possible, attendees need to

be educated on what recommendations have already been made and be able to see what a rough draft of the plan looks like. This will help the campus community wrap their heads around exactly what type of plan the committee is charged with creating. However, we acknowledge that students and faculty members also have to be willing to put in an effort if the Diversity Plan is going to move forward. As members of this campus, we also have a duty to engage in the planning. If you wish to see change, make an effort to state your feelings on the plan. Having seen the initial draft, this board sees the potential it could have on improving UW-Madison with regards to campus climate and access for individuals from diverse backgrounds. We appreciate that the committee is brainstorming ways to ensure the university is held accountable to uphold high standards with regards to diversity. We hope to see more specific actions added to the plan that come through further outreach sessions, similarly to how the Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) program came from the previous diversity plan. Ultimately, the success of this plan banks on the willingness of all members of the campus community to engage with it. We hope that everyone is able to do so with the release of the draft in a timely manner. Please send all feedback to

Action Project Issue, February 2014



Open dialogue rids diversity of uncertainty Michael Penn opinion columnist


llow me to begin with another healthy dose of honesty: Madison and race relations have not been going hand-in-hand lately. In fact, this is an inherent understatement: A precedent has been set for the underrepresentation of people of color at the University of Wisconsin and the city itself, while Black and brown people continue to systematically overpopulate the prison system in the county as well as the low-class/impoverished living conditions so subtly buried beneath the transfer points. There have been several recent articles detailing these issues in full, notably from Rev. Alex Gee in The Cap Times last December.

Why are people trained and entrusted to execute and facilitate healthy dialogues and living spaces for students in UW Housing not included in the decision process on what month covers what identity?

I have come to address an issue more rooted in the subtlety of how the dialogue around race relations in the city continues to meet a series of setbacks, most of which originate in the perceived awkwardness around addressing these issues head-on in a productive manner. In the pockets of campus where these dialogues occur, there is an insatiable desire Generations Fertility Care is looking for women who are willing to help make the dreams of becoming for everyone on campus, and this means everyone (students to facparents a reality for couples struggling with infertility. ulty to neighbors), to discover and examine their perspectives in an If you answer “yes” to the following questions, you might be able to become an egg donor. intersecting context. This means everything: race, class, gender • You are between 21 – 31 years old identity, sexual orientation, politi• You are a nonsmoker for at least the last three months cal views, religion, everything. I am here to disclose my sad• You have some formal education beyond a high school ness at the fact that UW Housing diploma or GED elected to declare this month “Race and Whiteness Month” within the If you qualify as a donor, you will work with dorms and housing communities on campus. February… Black a caring team to help others overcome infertility. History Month. I am not here to As compensation for the service you are providing, condemn the higher-ups for trying to facilitate an inclusive conversayou will receive monetary compensation of up tion for a topic a large majority of to $4,500. students here will leave without uttering a syllable about. For more information about our egg donor program, With those points at hand… go to or call come on, y’all. Of all the 12 months on the calendar? (608) 824-6160. For those of you in the readership expecting to spin this into a bitter leftist Black rant you steer fertility care clear from or cackle in the face of OB-37657-14online and on the street, I will not grant you the satisfaction. Let us OB-38657 Egg Donor Daily Cardinal AD.indd 1 2/19/14 2:42 PM address the facts: These decisions are pre-approved by Housing administration, not by the people

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who choose to implement or distribute the content. In this case, we’re talking about Diversity Coordinators (DCs for short) within the dorms. Every month in the school calendar has a different identity, including most of the intersections I addressed earlier. DCs can choose to plan events, have talks, create physical content for the walls and bulletin boards, etc. Herein lies the first fatal flaw: Why are people trained and entrusted specifically to execute and facilitate healthy dialogues and living spaces for students in UW Housing not included in the decision process on what month covers what identity? Furthermore, is it possible that people of color, staff and students alike, may have felt some type of way about the timing of this specific initiative? As a Chadbourne resident for two years, I have never heard of such a thing in February until now. Furthermore, the title “Race and Whiteness Month” is perfectly fine to the people who made these decisions? Is White not classified as a race? Can this be confusing to white students who want to participate in the discussion or already have done so? And again, on Black History Month, is the title “Race and Whiteness Month” not implicit of a shoddy attempt to co-opt a period of pride, remembrance and reflection for the Black community in the name of White inclusion because it’s about everyone? These questions are not rhetorical and should not be addressed as such. For effective dialogue and community on this campus to occur, sensitive matters such as this one should be addressed tactfully by a body of diverse individuals who can steer the conversation in a positive direction during the right time. This conversation does include everyone, but how can any minority on campus take any initiative it produces seriously when they are met with either consistent non-action due to red-tape hierarchy, or misguided attempts like this one that obviously could fit somewhere else in the calendar year that does not infringe upon the pride of a racial identity we rarely talk about? Not just Black folks, but Asians, Latinos, Native Americans and other people of color. From the outside, it looks like White History Month. Every day of American civilization has been founded on the principle of White History. I know this isn’t what UW Housing was saying, but when the next cycle of planning identity months comes around, is it truly difficult to maintain an open line of communication so that missteps with God-awful timing and nonfunctional names won’t continue to happen? This question is not rhetorical either. This is about all, but never at the expense of some. Email Michael at mdpenn@ to openly converse on issues regarding diversity.

Voices Letters from the campus community ACTION PROJECT ISSUE, FEBRUARY 2014 DAILYCARDINAL.COM

The Daily Cardinal asked for the campus’ input on the current social climate at UW-Madison. These are the responses we received. If you want to contribute to the discussion, email actionproject@dailycardinal. com, and we will publish your input. GRAPHIC BY MIKAELA ALBRIGHT

Issues of ‘cultural misunderstanding’ By Jacinta Tian UW-MADISON STUDENT

Hi all, As a student from a minor cultural background, I would like to share my thought on some ethnic issues. Although the University of Wisconsin-Madison has emphasized on diversity and representation, there are still tendency of isolation and exclusion. With the majority student being locally from this area or as American, the issue is obvious. Students still tend to gather with people from similar background and who shares same value with them. The problem is cultural misunderstanding. Majority students seem does not have the motive to step outside of their ‘safe circle’ and explore different cultures. Because they are well represented, they do not need to challenge their dominance, they do not need to adjust themselves to anything to please. This makes hard for the mainstream to step outside the echo chamber that only reflects their agreeing views

and for the minority to be recognized by the mainstream. The work that student association, such as ISS, AIS and DARS, should be recognized and highly valued. However, to solve the ethnic issues further, cooperation with other mainstream organizations is necessary. By rising awareness that the mainstream has lack of initiative to interact with other culture, the issue can be further solved. It is reflected by everyday life, such as the attitude to students in the dining hall while you are serving, in discussions who you tend to sit with, in resident who do you say hi to, what messages you share on the internet, who do you ask when you have a question… If we have to solve the issue to exclusion and separation between cultures, the student organizations and other media should be a bridge figures to facilitate interaction. Certainly things are getting better, but to go further, we need to work together.

Diversity plan lacks ‘intentionality’ By Jessica Behling and David Gardner ASSOCIATED STUDENTS OF MADISON

The Associated Students of Madison has been waiting for the Diversity Plan template, and we are excited to work with administrators, faculty, staff, and students to improve our campus climate through this plan. We also appreciate the effort to work with shared governance groups, and look forward to the presentation to students in ASM Student Council, where we can provide meaningful feedback. ASM Diversity Committee is in the process of reviewing the draft, and making initial recommendations. Our primary concern is with the emphasis on ‘optional’ changes and opportunities. For these recommendations to be effective, they need to be presented to students who do not already seek out diversity training on campus. Further, we need to take an intentional step toward making our campus community, academically as well as socially, supportive of all students and in order for this to happen the changes for faculty,

staff and administration cannot be optional either. Besides the overall vagueness and leniency throughout, the draft of the plan has several concerning holes. Despite strong conversation regarding changes to the ethnic studies requirement to ensure that it accomplishes what it is meant to, there is no mention of any changes to the requirement in the plan thus far. Further, there is no mention of graduate students, which make up a large portion of our student body and have the power to have great impact on the undergraduate population through TA positions. Finally, one of the strongest concerns ASM Diversity Committee has with the plan thus far is the lack of detail on how any changes will be executed over time, with assessments and improvements as needed. Though we are very excited to see that our campus is finally taking steps to create a new diversity plan, we believe that something this important needs to be taken more seriously and handled with more intentionality to ensure that we come out with a strong, changemaking document.

Better funded graduate students will help diversity efforts By Gina Spitz TEACHING ASSISTANTS’ ASSOCIATION

Graduate student instructors run many of the labs, discussion sections, and lectures on Madison’s campus. Yet, with the exception of a brief, one-time, Equity Training, Teaching Assistants and Lecturers receive no guidance or financial support for learning how we can meet the needs of students from multiple backgrounds and groups. To improve classroom climate for undergraduate students, the university must provide the necessary monetary and professional support to graduate student instructors to do so. UW-Madison classrooms have many diversity-related challenges. The “achievement gap” between majority students and their minority and first-generation peers persists in many campus classrooms. According to a recent campus survey, minority students are disadvantaged by competition in some classrooms and have anxiety about working with majority students. LGBTQ students also report feeling marginalized and tokenized (asked to represent their whole group) in some classrooms. Also, many underrepresented minority students reportedly feel ignored by faculty, mistreated even (and especially) in courses with multicultural

foci, and left with low- confidence in their abilities to achieve academic success (see: http://diversity. Final_SDU.pdf). Not surprisingly, the same surveys also show that instructors in courses with positive climate ratings by minority students reported spending greater effort on teaching. Most likely, instructors who spend more time on teaching can more successfully draw on student diversity to foster learning outcomes of critical thinking and global and cultural competence for all students and create inclusive and equitable college classroom environments (all are university-wide goals for student learning). Though the university has made strides in diversity programming, it hasn’t gone far enough in providing financial and professional support to graduate students to implement the aforementioned objectives. TAs and Lecturers receive low wages while paying ever-increasing segregated fees and costs; so for many of us, doing “extra” unpaid teacher training is financially unfeasible. The larger academic job market (for graduate students who want professor positions) also pressures graduate students to focus on research publications and research grants, for which [some of us] are eventually rewarded with jobs and money. By comparison, teaching and diversity

efforts are routinely uncompensated. To counter these pressures, UW-Madison must provide graduate student instructors with substantial, financial and professional support towards creating inclusive and equitable classrooms. This could take several forms: increased paid diversity training for graduate student instructors on how to practically implement teaching practices that equitably serve undergraduates; additional pay-raises or promotions for graduate student instructors that improve the equity in the learning environment for their students; individual or group grants and/or awards for graduate students for implementing innovative equitable and inclusive teaching practices and related evaluation; a clearinghouse of easy-to-use resources for graduate student instructors designing and assessing inclusion and equity in their classrooms. UW-Madison has the opportunity to become a leader in recognizing and addressing diversity challenges in graduate student instructor-led classrooms, but needs to provide the necessary financial and professional support for teaching and learning success. Gina Spitz is a PhD Student and Lecturer in Sociology as well as cochair of the Teaching Assistants’ Association’s Diversity Committee.

Students forget that businesses demand diversity By Cooper Boland OUT FOR BUSINESS CO-FOUNDER

Companies have access to new technologies, are subject to tough competition, and now serve customers of different cultures, religions, beliefs, and ambitions across the United Stated and in most parts of the world. Twenty-first century business is astoundingly nuanced and complex. It is easy to see why most premier US companies actively recruit workers from an array of racial backgrounds, countries, and

sexual orientations. When I came to UW-Madison, I was not surprised when there was no student organization for LGBT undergraduates in business. As a sixteen year old I was told to keep my identity secret since I may not be hired for a job if an employer found out I was gay. Looking back now, that conversation seems unimaginable. Proctor & Gamble, Google, McKinsey & Co., JPMorgan Chase, and KPMG are a few of countless companies that actively celebrate

LGBTs in their workforce. We need to rid ourselves of the assumption that our differences make us unsuitable; we should see them and our perspectives for the assets they really are. Cooper Boland co-founded the UW-Madison RSO and BBA Student Org called Out for Business (O4B). O4B provides a casual forum for LGBT and allied undergraduate students interested in business and connects those students with companies that value diversity.

Why drive to fly for spring break?

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Action Project Issue, February 2014 - The Daily Cardinal  

Action Project Issue, February 2014 - The Daily Cardinal

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