An ad-hoc group will study the Black experience at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and recommend steps the campus community can take to positively impact that experience. The group was formed after a viral video of a UW-Madison student in May using racial slurs and threatening the lives of members of the Black community caused days of protests on campus.
The Ad-Hoc Study Group on the Black Community Experience on the UW–Madison Campus, which will be under the direction of UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin, is composed of UW students, staff and faculty, as well as members of the community. They began meeting on Aug. 24 and are expected to report back to Mnookin in January.
“Black students, faculty and staff at UW–Madison have long experienced a campus climate and environment that can, at times, meaningfully inhibit a sense of belonging and the ability to flourish,” Mnookin said in a statement. “Most recently, a video on social media last spring in which a UW–Madison student used vile, racist language had a significant and harmful impact on our Black campus community and beyond. While we have, over recent years, spearheaded a variety of efforts to support underrepresented minority members of our campus community, we recognize we still have much work to do.”
The group was formed in response to the circulation of a video made by Audrey Godlewski, a UW-Madison student who made racist comments about Black people and wished for a return to slavery, among other harmful remarks.
The study group is co-chaired by Dr. Angela Byars-Winston and Dr. Rev. Alex Gee. Dr. Byars-Winston is a professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine within the Department of Medicine and the inaugural chair of the University of Wisconsin Institute for Diversity Science. Dr. Gee is the founder of the Center for Black Excellence and Culture, president and founder of the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development and lead pastor of Fountain of Life Church on Madison’s South Side.