A student in the University of Wisconsin’s PEOPLE program found a profane and racist note slid under her dorm room door Thursday, provoking the strongest reaction to date from a UW official.
University of Wisconsin’s Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity Patrick Sims posted a video on Facebook Thursday night reacting strongly and angrily to the latest in a series of racist incidents victimizing students of color on campus.
A visibly shaken and emotional Sims read the text of the note — “When you f— with Bucky, you f— with us. F— you, n—– b—-” — and declared “enough is enough,” imploring students to get involved and help put an end to the racial tension.
“This is not the UW that I agreed to teach at. This is not the forward-thinking institution that i thought it was,” Sims said in the video. “When our students hide in anonymity and present … I want to say punk-ass. I guess a vice provost isn’t supposed to say that, but that’s what it is.”
In the nearly nine-minute video, Sims challenged students to work to end “the cowardly acts that hide behind racism, that hide behind xenophobia, that hide behind homophobia, that hide behind the level of hatred that we haven’t seen since Jim Crow.”
“Say something. Speak up. Don’t sit by silently and let this define us,” he said. “We need to stick together. We need to work together. You need to be part of the solution, whether you want to or not. No struggle, no progress has ever been made without the voices of students involved. Check your history.”
Sims acknowledged that some students and university community members have criticized the administration’s response to racial incidents as slow or ineffective.
“Our letters can’t protect you. No letter from the provost, that chancellor, or the vice provost for diversity is going to stop this from happening,” Sims said. “I’m here. I am. You don’t see it. You don’t know the fights we’re having behind closed doors. You don’t know the conversations that are being had on your behalf. They are. They really are. I know we’re hurting right now. I know you’re tired of us talking. You’re tired of us trying to listen. You want to see action. I’m with you. I want action just as badly as you do. But let me be real with you. Anything that we put up overnight in one day can be taken away overnight in one day. You don’t want that. You want to leave a legacy that will be long-lasting and sustainable.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to change, to fight for change. Whether you feel like I’m fighting the way you want me to or not, know I’m fighting for you,” Sims added.
Addressing the perpetrators, Sims said, “I refuse to believe that this is you. Your mom and dad probably taught you better than that. And if they didn’t, you’re here now. And you’re gonna learn now.”
Neither University Police nor University Communications immediately returned calls and emails seeking information about the incident. We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
The video is below. It contains some explicit language.