Associated Students of Madison’s Diversity Committee hosted the second annual Diversity Day Tuesday, featuring workshops, performances and seminars by groups on campus to address topics related to diversity.
Groups like Students for Education and Climate Equality and the UW Law Restorative Justice Program, among others, spoke to students about social and cultural issues the UW-Madison campus deals with on a daily basis, especially given the recent local and national climates as they pertain to race and racial disparity.
Deshawn McKinney, as part of Students for Education and Climate Equality, spoke about the lack of multiculturalism on campus and expressed the need for inclusiveness among students.
Referencing the “Black Lives Matter” campaign, McKinney offered the idea that what the title means to say is “all lives matter,” mentioning the participation of all races in last semester’s protests.
“Saying that black lives matter is not to say that other lives don’t matter,” McKinney said. “You can’t talk about diversity without talking about inclusivity.”
But McKinney worried about possible repercussions Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts would have on diversity at UW-Madison, saying the campus’ already-lacking multiculturalism would suffer even more at the hands of the cuts.
Diversity Committee Chair Dolly Wang echoed these sentiments, saying she had recently asked the Interim Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate Patrick Sims whether or not the university will make a sincere effort to preserve diversity programs. Her query reportedly yielded no definite answer.
Wang confirmed, however, that UW housing will not have diversity squads in residence halls next semester. These squads work to implement inclusive diversity programs in resident halls and facilitate conversations among students who live in the same building.
Instead, the university may “re-organize” the residence halls’ diversity programs to operate under Sims’ office.
But many groups remain optimistic about diversity efforts at UW-Madison and around the state.
Law student and Clinical Intern for the UW Law Restorative Justice Program Sarah Zwach hosted a “diversity dialect circle,” in which participants shared points of their identity and discussed how they have experienced pride or pain in identifying with them.
“I felt like [campus] really needed some sort of dialogue, especially with everything that’s happened in the nation this year,” Zwach said. “By recognizing [how our identities are ignored] I think we can repair a little bit of harm.”
In a welcome to attendees, Deputy Director Samuel Kastner, of event co-sponsor Society and Politics Committee, commended the groups coming together to celebrate diversity and starting these essential conversations.
“Diversity comes in many forms, and I think it’s important to take opportunities like this to recognized that they combine and form our daily experiences,” Kastner said.