The University of Wisconsin-Madison is in the process of hiring more counselors after students claimed that the university has a problem with microaggressions and racial bias.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank recently announced university plans to accelerate “the hiring of additional student support counseling services … for student mental health issues related to diversity and climate.” She also mentioned plans to have incoming freshmen attend a newly designed “cultural competency” program that aims to rid students of their biases before future transgressions are committed against the university’s social minorities.
“In support of this student-led plan, I’m going to commit resources out of the Chancellor’s Office to provide short-term funding for two dedicated positions for student mental health issues related to diversity and climate,” Blank stated in her open letter to the UW community. “This will allow us to hire before permanent funds become available. Recruitment for these positions will begin immediately.”
Blank listed four initiatives designed to combat these campus climate issues:
- a pilot program of cultural competency activities for new students, starting in fall 2016
- more counseling services at University Health Services
- an improved campus cultural center model
- a university-wide session on hate incidents and campus disciplinary procedures after students return next week from spring break”
The changes were prompted by the Twitter hashtag #TheRealUW, which attempted to bring light to campus issues of racial bias, microaggressions, and discrimination. According to the students, a common microaggression is students assuming that an African-American peer is an athlete on the basis of their skin color.
A Latin-American student claimed that she had been on the receiving end of microaggressions based on her cultural heritage, detailing her experience with peers wanting to guess her ethnicity, and others assuming that she is a good cook.
Another incident that influenced Blank’s new policies involved a Vietnamese student who was allegedly spit on by a middle aged white man, who told her to “go back to China.”
The university is also focused on combating some of the alleged issues that have occurred on Yik Yak, such as one comment that criticized an African-American student for claiming to be oppressed despite attending the university on a full scholarship.
“I am seeking a partnership with students, faculty and staff who have ideas and initiatives that address cultural and behavioral change…” Blank concluded. “It is very clear that we still have much work to do in our community.”
Tom Ciccotta writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta.