(WORT)–Swastikas and images of Adolf Hitler posted to a Jewish student’s door.
A healing ceremony recognizing Native American victims of sexual assault, heckled with Hollywood-style “war cries.”
Black female students pushed, spat on, threatened, and told they didn’t deserve to attend the UW-Madison.
These are only the most recent reports of racially-charged incidents that many students say are a common occurrence at “The Real UW.”
Meredith McGlone, a spokesperson for the university, says that the administration is listening.
“Everybody here has been moved and shaken” by the stories students have been sharing, she says.
In the face of mounting student demands that administrators acknowledge and address racism on campus, University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank issued an official response Tuesday, laying out several new or accelerated initiatives she hopes will make UW-Madison a safer and more inclusive place.
These include piloting a “cultural competency” training for incoming students this fall; hiring new mental health professionals ahead of schedule; studying the possibility of bringing all the university’s multicultural centers under one roof; and holding an information session to familiarize students with the misconduct reporting and investigation procedures for incidents of bias and discrimination.
McGlone says that the university’s process for reporting and investigating incidents is separate from any investigation the UW Police Department may conduct.
In the case of the students who reported being pushed and spat on last weekend in the Sellery Hall dormitory, the UWPD has said it will not seek criminal or hate crime charges against the perpetrator, Matthew Hsieh. Hsieh was cited only for disorderly conduct and underage alcohol consumption. UWPD says race never came up when speaking with the victims, although student eyewitnesses have stated otherwise.
McGlone says a university team is still looking into that incident and that the two investigations are separate.
“On the one hand you have a criminal investigation process. On the other hand, the university is engaging in and is still actively conducting a student conduct investigation,” she says.
McGlone says, depending on the context, disciplinary action could include educational training, suspension, or even expulsion, although she did not know whether the university had ever sought to expel a student over a hate or bias incident.
According to a report released by UW-Madison’s Division of Student Life, 23 incidents of hate or bias were reported last semester.