Letters to UW-Madison

jaLogoNovember 4, 2016
Dear Chancellor Blank and Athletic Director Alvarez,

I am adding my voice to the many voices you have heard in recent days calling for stronger policies to prevent or to stop racist acts like the one that occurred at Camp Randall during the UW football game.

I understand the tensions around freedom of speech – a value I hold dear. I understand the complexities now after the fact of identifying those whose actions so posed a threat to people of color, and of holding them accountable if they are not students or staff at UW.

But I also understand the pain of those who witnessed this, the anger at the initially tepid response, the discouragement of those who have worked so long and so hard to make UW a place that is welcoming and safe for all.

We – I am a UW alum with a BA and an MA from this great university – we can do better. We look to you to make that happen with stronger statements, but even more important, with stronger policies to prevent or stop anything like this in the future.

Thank you for the work you are doing with the leaders of color in our community. Please hear them, please here all of us, so Wisconsin can go On to be what it is supposed to be.

Rev. Phil Haslanger, ’71 and ’73
Fitchburg Wis.


November 2, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank and Director Alvarez –

As a parent of a current UW-Madison student and a person of white ethnicity, I am writing out of serious concern for the racist incident at the recent UW-Madison football game involving the patron wearing a President Obama costume with a noose around his neck. While I wish he had been immediately escorted out of the stadium, I understand the complexity of immediate decisions involving policing behavior and potential mob rule. I respect the intensity of the moment.

However, I am deeply disappointed in the university’s rallying applause of this patron’s “free speech.” This is clearly hate speech, and allowing this behavior sends a terrible message to your student body on what is acceptable and protected on your campus. This was an amazing opportunity for the campus to take a stand (and actually educate) on the difference between true free speech so cherished in our society and speech that will not be tolerated. Instead, the university chose a damaging narrative path, one that aligns with voice of the oppressor while belittling the voice of the oppressed.

Free speech allows each American the right to challenge the government, proudly take a position that is in the minority, and empowers its citizens to say bold things in light of current culture. Free speech, however, should not be a facade used by the university to hinder taking a stance of protecting its students and creating an environment that allows for healthy, diverse exchange of ideas. There are times and places where speech can happen without creating a scene of fear and hate. You have this power, and in this case I am not impressed with the position taken by the university.

Sincerely,

Matthew Rust


November 4, 2016
Dear Chancellor Blank,
I don’t want to speak down to you by stating the obvious – that you are in a position of great power and prestige – but I do feel compelled to remind you that your position demands so much more than a deer-in-the-headlights “free speech” explanation concerning what the world witnessed at Camp Randall on Saturday, October 29: the full-frontal public display of everything not in the spirit of promoting a campus environment where all people feel valued, safe and able to thrive.
And just to be clear, I am with M. Braunginn and The Reverend Gee when they call the spectacle at the UW Badger/Nebraska Cornhuskers football game hate speech. It was brutal and despicable.
That said Chancellor, you are in the position to name the behavior and frame the dialogue that must happen in response to the spectacle. Please don’t run from the difficult task. Too much is, too many are, depending on you to do right by this circumstance. If you truly want the institution you lead to be an environment where all people feel valued, safe and able to thrive there is much work to be done.
And to do that work you need to be brave enough to listen to anger, to pain, to righteous indignation, even to blame from the community of color, be they faculty, staff, alumni, students and/or community members. You need to be courageous enough to be in close working relationship with people who are different from you – yes, people of color who will push you to the limits of what you know and understand, and then beyond those limits to what you need to learn in order to truly be able to create a campus environment where all people feel valued, safe and able to thrive.
It’s a very noble cause, that. Please be big enough to actually strive to make it so. It’s not easy work, obviously, or we would be much further along as a nation in this quest for equality and justice for all.
Please be big enough, strong enough, brave enough, wise enough, humble enough to take hold of the beast that is the bigotry and hatred that those two young men so vividly exhibited amongst thousands of silent witnesses. Take hold of it, wrestle with it, make progress against it. You are in a position that gives you the privilege and the demands of the task.
Again, please be big enough.
Sincerely,
Mary Kateada

November 2, 2016

Good morning Chancellor Blank and Athletic Director Alvarez,

I know you are receiving many emails today so I will be brief. I have an undergraduate degree with dual majors in Philosophy and in English – Creative Writing, and am a communications professional at a contemporary art museum. I am a champion of free thought and free speech, greatly value robust dialogue and creative expression. A university must be a bastion for these if it is to serve its students and the larger world.

There are times that yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater is an act of public good and times when it is a crime; times when saying that a person is a criminal is journalism and times when it is slander; and there are times when showing an African American man in a noose is creative expression and times when it is hate speech.

The climate at University of Wisconsin Madison for many African Americans, Latinos, and individuals with mixed heritage is often one where they feel unseen, unwelcome, and unsafe. Beyond looking at policies at Camp Randall, I challenge the university leadership to confront and reduce hate speech while maintaining free speech. You are the arbitrators of campus culture, you are responsible, you define what is acceptable on campus. So, does free speech cover all? Or sometimes, is a threat of violence, a threat of violence? And if so, what then? We will be watching for your response.

Best,

Erika Monroe-Kane

Madison, WI


November 4, 2016

Dear Chancellor,

I am writing to you, not only as a concerned citizen and resident of Madison, Wisconsin, but as well as a retired educator from Madison East High School and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. I also hold two graduate degrees from UW-Madison. The incident at UW-Madison’s football game, and your response to it are deeply troubling to me. It is wrong for me to remain silent and not express my opinion.

I understand that your role as UW-Madison’s Chancellor is highly complicated and that your opinions and decisions will not be met in favor by everyone. But, you are also viewed in high regard and your words carry much weight. You are a community and state leader. And now, our nation’s eyes are upon you. Please use this as a most teachable moment and take a higher moral road.

The image of our African-American president as an effigy with a noose around its neck, surrounded by an all white crowd at a UW-Madison Badger football game frightens me, brings tears to my eyes, and makes me so very angry. The fact that this occurred on the grounds of an institution of higher learning makes it all the more troubling and deplorable. Is this really happening in 2016? Is this really only seen as “free speech”? No! This was a blatant display of racism and hatred. The noose is the most heinous  symbol in American history.

We are at a pivotal moment in our country’s history. Tensions are high and divisions are great. I cannot say the words better than Rev. Alex Gee in his open letter to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so I will quote him here:

“It was not consistent with the Wisconsin Idea to offer such a watered-down response to such a nationally embarrassing act. Badger students, faculty, staff and alumni deserve better. Hasn’t America — and UW-Madison — had enough of masks and hoods? How do you think the African-Americans on the field and sidelines felt Saturday night? Understood? Heard? Represented? Respected? Do you think they’re going to tell their siblings and friends back home to come here for college? I don’t think such a free speech act was free at all. It was very costly. Even exorbitant!”

With all due respect, I implore you to reconsider your stance and send a more thought provoking and firm message. Again, this is a most teachable moment and this nation and history are watching.

Sincerely, Monica Urbanik

Retired Educator, Madison, Wisconsin


November 4, 2016
Dear Chancellor Blank,
I am writing in response to the horrific event the world witnessed at the October 29 UW/Nebraska football game. I think your response to that event in which you stated that the halloween costume of Donald Trump holding a noose around the neck of President Barack Obama was a matter of free speech shows a lack of understanding concerning the role lynching has played in American History.
Let me turn to last year’s Go Big Read book Brian Stevenson’s  JUST MERCY: A STORY of JUSTICE and REDEMPTION to frame my thoughts. In the book Stevenson puts forth the reality that: “Slavery didn’t end: it evolved.” In the decades that followed the civil war the nation’s “belief in racial hierarchy took new expression in convict leasing, lynching and other forms of racial terrorism” and “racial subordination was codified and enforced by violence in the era of Jim Crow and segregation.”
Given this context, any reference or action that depicts the lynching of a Black person in this country is not simply an expression of free speech. It falls squarely into the category of hate crime.
That said, you have the opportunity to create a project that helps change the way we talk about racial history and contextualizes contemporary race issues. The University has a great teachable moment here. In JUST MERCY Stevenson introduces his Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and along with it the notion of restitution as a way “to deepen the national conversation about the legacy of slavery and lynching and our nation’s history of racial injustice.” I am advocating that you become familiar with EJI’s reports and materials and use them to frame a series of campus wide conversations. I’d also like to suggest that in the spirit of redemption and restitution donations be collected for EJI’s Museum and National Lynching Memorial.
I look forward to witnessing how you are going to turn this horrific event into an opportunity to effectively teach UW Madison students about power, privilege and systematic racism.
Sincerely,
Anne Egan-Robertson

November 4, 2016
Dear Chancellor Blank, Director Alvarez and Chief Bridges:
When hate speech or racist or sexist cartoons or other visual materials create a hostile work environment for employees of color or women employees, the employee can file a discrimination complaint with the government at the local, state or federal level and seek back financial compensation from the employer for the harm she or he has suffered.  But to my knowledge, there is no way for a UW student of color or a female student who is forced to study in a hostile campus environment to seek financial or other compensation when they see a someone dressed in costume as a Black president with a noose around his neck at a UW football game.  In fact, there is no remedy at all for students who complain, under current university rules, especially when the chancellor excuses this violent threat, this hate crime, as being “free speech”, and therefore encourages more of the same behavior in the future.  It is rightly called “institutional racism” when the institution does nothing concrete to stop it from recurring.
As a UW-Madison alumna, it pains me very deeply to see the incredible insensitivity of University leaders when they label threatening, hate-filled incidents on campus as protected free speech, while ignoring or marginalizing the serious levels of anxiety, fear and trauma it has on all students of color.  As a mother of two Latino/a children who are now adults, I can tell you that these incidents create a devastating, direct threat to students of color, as well as depression, constant anxiety on campus and very low self-esteem.  Having gone through this with my Latino/a children, I know that for every one reported incident, there are many more anxiety-producing, painful incidents that go unreported.  If you are just looking at these vile, racist incidents as a legal issue for the University, whether intentionally or not, you are perpetuating the racism on campus and traumatizing students of color at the University of Wisconsin. You are allowing them to receive daily messages, subtle and not-so-subtle, that they don’t belong at the UW.
From what I’ve heard from the students themselves, the University is making it extremely difficult for students of color to focus on studying when their lives have been threatened by the depiction of a Black man in a noose, when going to their classes or to the library or even back to their dorms is filled with fear, pain and dread on a daily basis.  Instead of denying that they have every right to feel this way, the University needs to accept that the fear, pain, anxiety, dread and trauma they experience are legitimate and real, and then it needs to include UW students of color and leaders of color in the greater Madison community in all conversations and in the decision-making process itself as it addresses how to stop this oppression and discrimination.
The UW needs to listen deeply to students and leaders of color without going into denial or a defensive mode, without assuming, based on white people’s experience, that they are “over-reacting” or “over-sensitive”.  These students are being forced to endure a cruel and hostile work and study environment every day, due to the cumulative impact of these vile, racist actions and events.  It would be no wonder if some of these students living with daily anxiety attacks and emotional stress were to just give up and drop out.  If we can’t walk in their shoes then we need to start accepting as real their traumatization from these incidents and the negative impact on their studies, even if these incidents just occur once in awhile.  Regardless of their frequency or intent, these incidents have a serious, cumulative impact on students of color that create continuous barriers to their rights to a higher education.
I strongly urge you to meet with and listen to UW students of color and Madison community leaders of color, especially those from the Black, Latino and Muslim communities.  Listen to the impact of these displays of racism on their ability to get up in the morning and go back to face that hostile environment every day, without any serious support from the UW, and knowing that the perpetrators will not face any consequences for their hate-filled actions.  Listen to their ideas on what the UW should do to resolve this very serious, systemic problem with racism on campus.  Ask them what they need to feel truly safe on campus.  Be open to creating consequences for the culprits who prey on them.  Instead of going merely by what the law requires you to do, I urge you to act with your hearts as well as your minds in finding real solutions to the growing racism on the UW campus.
Sincerely,
Leila C. Pine
UW Class of 1971
UW Law School Class of 1981

November 4, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank-

Although the UW is correct that the football fan who portrayed himself as Barack Obama with a noose around his head was within his first amendment rights to provide such a distasteful display, I was hoping for a firmer response from the University.   To not make a strong statement about the inappropriateness of this person’s message of hate dilutes the University’s diversity efforts and makes it appear that these programs are simply symbolic or just “window dressing”.   What do these programs really mean when we as a University miss such a wonderful opportunity to step up and strongly voice our University’s stance against hate speech and intolerance?
I am not a person of color and at times struggle with what I can do as an individual to reduce or eliminate the hostile attitudes that people of color face in our community.   I am deeply disappointed in the UW’s response to this incident and hope for a stronger statement of our values in the future.
Thanks,
Jeff Charlson
UW Alumni and UW employee
Madison, WI

November 3, 2016
I think this incident was appalling and disgusting. It offends me as a white woman who calls Madison home. I think you should have shut this down using the strongest language possible. Set an example. Do not tolerate this!
Anne Hart

November 2, 2016

Dear Chancellor,

I appreciate that your job is highly complex and that whatever stand you take in matters such as Saturday’s UW football game will not please everyone.
But true leadership requires taking the high road.
I am a teacher at Sandburg Elementary School here in Madison.  This is my tenth year teaching public school and, in that role, I am privy to injustices that I’d never seen before in a city as segregated as is Madison.
You must, WE must, take a strong stand against such blatant visual imagery of lynching–not to mention the oblivion of a sea of white spectators.  How do you think our black youth feels inside when they see images like this in the paper and learn that our “leaders” call this “free speech?” It is not “free” nor is it as benign as a “Dump Trump” poster.  What message does that send to them?  How are they supposed to be inspired to go to college when this is the social climate that awaits them?
I went to see Alex Gee on Oct. 8 at the Fountain of Life Church to learn about recent initiatives that his coalition, Justified Anger, has launched.  I went there in a moment of despair after a very rough day of teaching.  He is a kind and benevolent man and he inspired me to dig deeper.
His open letter to the UW-Madison was bracing, and justifiably so.  But I know that if you met with him, you would come away inspired and with a real sense of purpose. Madison is in the midst of real social change and Saturday offered a profound teachable moment.  I implore you to reconsider your stance.
Sincerely,

Lisa Hepburn


November 3, 2016

Dear Ms. Blank,
“To those who have spoken out about this, we hear you and we thank you for your feedback and concern. Together, we will continue to strive to make UW–Madison a place where all Badgers can thrive.”
That is excellent. I’d like to suggest:
1) a campus-wide close reading of Gloria Ladsen-Billing’s thoughts on the matter.
2) A review of the Race to Equity report
3) Attending Justified Anger meetings:
We all make mistakes. Madison needs strong leadership, here. You have an opportunity to model for an entire academic community what self-reflection looks like.  I’m on that path myself.
Sincerely,
Lisa Hepburn (a white 4th grade teacher who desperately hopes Gloria Ladsen-Billings doesn’t leave the UW)

November 2, 2016

Chancellor Blank,
There is no reason why security staff at Camp Randall on Saturday should allow someone with a rope to attend a game. Putting aside for a moment the obvious racial issue, what is the common sense safety much less sensibility to allow someone into the stadium with a rope? 80,000 excited and excitable fans do not need more tools to make life and safety more tenuous. It should never have happened, not because the UW is censoring free speech but because it is a safety issue. A trained and focused UW Police force would recognize legal reasons to have stopped this actor at the ticket gate and certainly after going into full attire once inside the stadium.

Putting common sense and safety issues aside, where is the racial sensitivity for UW Police? The horrors of the American Black experience came rushing into a national focus at Camp Randall on Saturday. This was a Big Ten football game and not a Presidential Pep Rally, where this type of behavior is becoming too commonplace.

The PTSD that affects many Black Americans was triggered for both current and future students and their families. So much was thrown away for the recruiting and diversity plans for the UW. The best students and athletes considering UW are certainly looking elsewhere after this event.

Where is the groundbreaking UW school that helped spark ideas that changed American life with great social science thinkers? This is a problem that needs fixing with big ideas and big thinkers. I suggest you find them and get them engaged to break the practice and the image that was allowed to become a part of UW history.

Gathering a group of Black community leaders to win PR acceptance that the UW is doing the right thing is doubling the burden on our Black citizens. Long term institutional change starts at the top, today! Let’s take this horrible experience and turn it into an opportunity to make the change that we all know is needed.

UW Police and stadium security need a wakeup call. When will UW Athletics, Police and Administration make a proactive supportive rather a reactive statement to the Black students, parents, professors and citizens and their right to enjoy a creative safe environment on campus?

I am saddened by this but hope to see new ideas put to work because UW has figured it out on so many other social issues and must do it again.

Ron Konkol


November 3, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank and Coach Alvarez,
I am writing as a white person asking you both to please issue an apology for the university’s lack of a response on Saturday night when a racist, hate filled ‘costume’ appeared at the football game.  I am heartened to hear of your letter indicating policies will be reviewed to ensure this type of thing will not be allowed in the future.  But damage has already been done and I do hope that a full apology will be made if it has not already.  As a white person I am working on understanding the unearned privilege I have in our society.  It is important for me to also help my young children learn to identify and name their privilege and the racist actions and systems around them.  This incident is a problem that creates an opportunity for the university to dig deep and address the issues that plague the university and our wider community.  I hope I will be able to draw my children’s attention to both of you and the university’s response and actions moving forward as the way to face and begin this difficult work.  Please rise to the challenge.  Our black leaders are working tirelessly to address the racial disparities and institutionalized racism in our community.  We need to do our part in this work.
Thank you,
Beth Esser
Monona, WI


November 3, 2016

To Chancellor Rebecca Blank and athletic director Barry Alvarez

It is beyond comprehension to me how the UW can condone the action of this past weekend.  The noose around the neck of a black president is not free speech, it is racism, hate speech.  The UW should have taken a strong stand against this.  I am glad that I am not a UW alumnus, it would be an incredible embarrassment. But I am a resident in Fitchburg, and a white woman.  There are many white people who stand with our black friends and neighbors. We are trying to change our community so that the norm is respect for each other, to stand up and say enough to treating our black neighbors as lesser human beings.  We are trying to take an honest look at our personal biases and addressing those biases.  When an incident like the costume this past weekend occurs it is a huge blow to building a different kind of community. The noose is a clear image of racism going back to slavery when black people were routinely hung.  It breaks my heart that such bigotry still exists. We must be better than this, we must honestly look at what kind of a community, state, country we want to be.
UW has an obligation to take a stand against this overt racist action. It owes the black people in our community an apology. But frankly that is not enough at this point because you had to know that this action was offensive and racist.  You need to ask yourself how you could have condoned this. Quite frankly one of the greatest presidents of our time has been Barack Obama. You have joined your voice with the many racists across this country. You should feel only shame.


Nancy Arnold


November 3. 2016

Dear Chancellor:

I am a white, 55 year old graduate of UW-Madison. I hold two B.S. degrees and a Masters Degree (84, 90, 08). I love the UW and have lived near campus for most of my life.

In my private life, I work to build relationship among diverse groups of people by using nature. I work primarily with African-American churches to do this. Over the past 3 years, I have learned a lot about race and racism and I’ve made many friends who are people of color.

This incident impacts people that I know and care about and I must stand up for them. And, I must hold my beloved Alma Mater to account.

I was so disappointed by the UW’s response to the noose clad costume wearer at the Badger game. I felt like I was being assaulted by double speak. You basically were saying that at UW Madison, we’re supposed to be okay with someone walking around on campus dressed as a black person in a noose (because it’s free speech), while at the same time believing that the UW is creating a space where diversity is valued.

What?

That’s impossible and that’s why I’m writing.

You can’t do both. A black man in a noose is a powerful, hateful and violent image that can only be seen as an aggressive attempt by the wearer to frighten others.

For a second, I wanted to believe that you meant well. I quickly tried to find other images on the web of people in nooses and sure enough I did find a George Bush and a Donald Trump in a noose. So, is that what you were thinking? That somehow it’s okay to wear a noose because the president is a public figure?

It simply is not. A black man in a noose is never okay.

Then I thought, were you just worried about being sued? The statement was so carefully worded. Did you think that the person in the costume was planted there by a well-funded donor just to force a lawsuit. Is that why you did what you did? To avoid a lawsuit?

Or, maybe it really was how it looked, that the UW simply made a mistake about free speech and what the really means. But how could that be?

Since when did free speech ever mean you could walk around as a black man in noose in a public space on campus and get away with it? I’ve been around long enough to remember when a campus frat held that now infamous slave auction. I’m pretty sure that they were shut down. I don’t see the difference between that incident and this incident. If that was wrong, then this is wrong.

The bottom line for me is this: the person in the costume should have been removed immediately and probably questioned by the police.

I hope that you will take this to heart and make some changes at the stadium and around campus. It sounds like that is happening.

I would also like to see a public apology to the student body about this incident. I also suggest that you visit a black church, like Christ the Solid Rock or Fountain of LIfe Covenant and experience what it’s like to be a minority. Feel it in your gut what it must be like to face racism like this every single day of your life. Feel the pain of being misunderstood just because your skin is dark. Become aware of your implicit bias and feel the pain that goes with that awareness.

It is not easy to have real conversations about race because it requires white people to shut up and listen. It requires us to feel uncomfortable. It requires a level of humility that can only happen by being in the presence of others who are not white.

And so Chancellor Blank, I respectfully leave you with a great challenge of righting a wrong and turning this travesty of justice into something worthy of a world class university.

Teach Wisconsin how to have real courageous conversations about race. Teach us what it means to be Badger. Teach us that we can be truly welcoming of all people.

That’s the essence of the Wisconsin Idea.

I will support you all the way.

On Wisconsin.

Diane Schwartz, Founder

Outdoors 123!


November 3, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank, Athletic Director Alvarez and Police Chief Bridges,

I wanted to take this time to voice my concern for the pride and integrity of the UW-Madison.  I am a proud alumnus of the University of Wisconsin for the many reasons.

My grandfather attended UW-Lacrosse in the early 1900s with the dream of becoming a teacher.  The son of a Cornish immigrant, he and his siblings worked their way out of the iron mines of northern Michigan.  He still holds a place in the Kenosha Coaches Hall of Fame for his exemplary service to the community.  He talked frequently of his childhood experiences with poverty and discrimination.  He believed completely in the importance and necessity of the principles of public education.

My parents both attended UW-Madison in the 1950s, and spent their lives teaching.  They proudly participated, with me as a small child, in the march from the WI Capital, honoring Martin Luther King’s life in the 60s. My father taught high school at Lafollette during the Vietnam war and watched as many of his students were maimed or killed.  He actively marched and protested for peace.  Our house not only believed in free speech, we actively exercised our right to it.

My husband graduated from UW – Madison Med School and then the Family Practice Residency in Madison in 85’.  He has been named in the Madison Magazine Top Doc year after year.  He credits this accomplishment to the mentoring of his small-town family doctor.  He taught him to care “completely, equally and always.”  He has done just that while practicing in Madison’s South Side.  I earned my Physician Assistant degree at Madison, and worked in Women’s’ health for years in the same Southside location.  Later, while raising our family we continued to answer the UW-Madison’s call to service and volunteerism, through years of Scouting, coaching, PTO, and other community leadership roles.

Our oldest son just graduated this spring from UW-Madison, with Honors and distinction, from the Biomedical Engineering program.  While on campus he cofounded the Advocates for Diverse Abilities, a disabilities awareness group on campus.  He overcame the obstacles of dyslexia and is now at MIT, on a full academic scholarship, working toward his doctorate degree so that he can help others with disabilities overcome their own obstacles.

Now you may understand, at least a little better, how proud I am to be a BADGER and how everyone in our family has tried their best to live up to the expectation of the UW – share your gifts with the world and make it a better place.   I represent the teachings of four generations of proud Wisconsin Alumni.  Our family has taught us the rights and responsibilities of free speech.  However, we believe that with the right to free speech, we must not dishonor and disrespect the safety and dignity of our fellowman.  We feel that the event that occurred at the Nebraska football game last weekend needs to be denounced by the University and not allowed to happen again.

The person in costume had a mask on, and was therefore not taking responsibility for his actions (free speech/expression).  I believe this event was like cyber bullying, where the person escapes taking direct responsibility for his/her words or actions.  The offender should have been required to take off his mask and face the public, instead of being allowed to hide behind a mask and remain at the game — only being asked to remove the noose, and then being allowed to remain at the game with the noose available to be used again.  This was not reasonable or acceptable.   If he wanted to carry his right to freedom of speech/expression, he should have had to take it to a public park or other public area, not inside an event were people had paid to sit and enjoy a school function.  If this can go on at Camp Randall during a football game, then what is stopping it from happening during a lecture or at any other campus events, such as the Engineering Expo.  I do not believe this is what our forefathers meant by freedom of speech, and I certainly don’t want it associated with my Alma mater.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Amy Hermus


November 3, 2016

Chancellor Blank, Director Alvarez and Chief Bridges … This is not a complaint but a suggestion.  The unfortunate problems that are occurring on Campus, in the Stadium and in Madison are surely a symptom of the very deep and increasingly dangerous polarization and anger in the country.  Students and the University are not immune from the tensions  that afflict them and all of us.  The ‘pranks’ take on the qualities of life around them, and the bad behavior of their elders … made especially potent in the ‘heat’ of the endless angry ‘Campaign’.

You have made it admirably clear that the bad behavior is unacceptable and damaging … especially to minority students who are finding it difficult to adapt to and find their comfortable place on campus.  Racist misbehavior must of course be confronted and ended.  Rather than ‘punishment’ however, perhaps it could provide an opportunity to create a ‘truth and reconciliation’ process, that gave the persons who have acted badly the opportunity (and expectation) to acknowledge their mistakes and offenses to a group of their peers including members of the group(s) hurt by their behavior.

The problem with punishment is that it almost insures an outcome in which the persons punished only become more angry at the ‘other’, and whatever else is done to assist, comfort and reassure the victims of the bad behavior.   We need to find a way to break the cycle.

With appreciation of the very difficult and important responsibilities that you hold.

Marc F Hansen MD
Professor of Family Medicine and Pediatrics, Emeritus
UWSMPH


November 3, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank,

I am writing to express my extreme disappointment in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s response to the noose costume response of this past weekend and the corresponding statement given.

I am a first year law student at the University of Wisconsin and finished my undergraduate degree here as well, in 2014. I am proud of my school and the ways in which it stays at the top of research and holds a high standard of academics. Our position among universities and our reputation as an institution is valuable and something to be proud of.

This reputation is greatly threatened by the recent string of events that demonstrate a lack of diversity, a lack of response to racist attacks, and a general ignorance towards racial issues that our community faces.
I am a white student. I am not the direct victim of the dorm room graffiti, the direct subject of the noose costume, or the recipient of slurs while walking down Langdon. However, I will not stand complacently on the sidelines as these events occur.

It is not enough to say that the events at the football game do not align with University values. It is not enough to have select faculty of color express disdain. It is not fair to make the same students of color shout to make their voices heard over and over, year after year. It is time for those who are in a position of power to stand up and make clear that they value the diversity of our campus, regardless of their own skin color. Nothing on our campus will change until it is unequivocally clear that hate speech and racist acts, of any shape or form, will not be tolerated.

I urge you to condemn not only the recent events, but the general unsafe climate of our campus. We look to you, the Chancellor, as a leader who can set the tone for change at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Please do not provide excuses such as “free speech” for those who act in racist, bigoted, and ignorant ways while on our campus. Live out our Wisconsin values and set the standard for everyone who is privileged to be member of our UW community.

Thank you for taking the time to hear out my concerns.

Respectfully,

Charis Zimmick


November 2, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank and Athletic Director Alvarez,

I graduated in 1980 from the UW with a BA in Sociology and in 1983 with a law degree. I am a civil rights lawyer in private practice in Madison and, in my practice, I represent plaintiffs in First Amendment free speech cases.

I am very disappointed by the UW’s response to the appalling incident in which persons wearing costumes depicting the lynching of President Obama were permitted to remain and roam about in costume at the last Badger football game. The UW’s formal statement pleading impotence due to First Amendment constraints is deplorable. Given the history of the lynching of African Americans in this country and the reign of terror that manifested it, the message conveyed by the costumed game patrons can only be construed as hate speech and even as a terrorist act. Neither hate speech nor terrorist acts are protected by the First Amendment. Moreover, Camp Randall Stadium during a football game is not a public forum or dedicated for purposes that would require the University to permit this sort of offensive message, even it were considered to be speech.

I hope, expect and insist that the UW take a strong stance and assure we the alumni and the citizens of Wisconsin and the nation that it will not tolerate such hateful and terror-provoking demonstrations in the future.

Sincerely,

Steve Porter


November 3, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank and Director Alvarez-

My name is Erica Halverson and I am a Professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. This is my tenth year serving as a faculty member and I have held a range of roles including teacher, federally funded researcher, advisor, faculty chair of the Teaching Academy, member of the Social Studies Divisional Committee, and I have run my own outreach programs into Madison Public Schools. I am deeply invested in this university and I work extremely hard in all to fulfill all of my responsibilities across research, teaching, and service. Chancellor Blank, we met briefly this summer. I was a speaker at the All Ways Forward event in Minneapolis; I spoke to 300 or so of our most dedicated alums about my contribution to Wisconsin.
I typically don’t reach out in this way – in fact, this is the first time I have ever written a letter like this – but I just read Reverend Gee’s open letter on Madison.com where he called for “white people to talk to white people about what’s going on” and I felt motivated to speak up.
I am deeply disappointed, bordering on appalled by the University’s response to a fan’s choice to wear a “costume” representing President Barack Obama hung from a noose. This is an act of hate – it’s not funny, it’s not play-acting, it’s not freedom of expression, it’s hate – plain and simple. Yes, Presidents are threatened all the time and yes, a person has a right to protest our leader. But we all know that’s not what this represents. An image of a black man hanging from a noose is loaded with so much socio-historical baggage that to hide behind a “free speech” explanation seems like we as a university are completely ignorant to that. The symbolic representation of lynchings should be reason enough to remove this person from the stadium and condemn their actions, stating unequivocally that we do not support racism and hate anywhere on our campus.
But it’s worse than that. Given the number of racist acts and hate crimes against African American and Latinx students that we have experienced on this campus in the past 2 years, our lack of action is even more disturbing. Students are being spit on, arrested, assaulted, and being given the message everyday that “we don’t want you here” or that “ it’s fine if you come here, but watch yourself”. We could have done a lot by publicly standing up for the community of students who are directly threatened by an historical act of violence against African Americans by harshly condemning such an act.
As a person who is generally happy to be part of an institution I’m really struggling with how to stand up for our university. And, like Reverend Gee, I don’t think diversity forums do the trick. We need courage, not meetings.
Please consider making additional remarks that clearly and bravely state that acts of hate and open displays of racism are never acceptable at UW Madison and that we regret not acting more quickly and with more conviction.
I would be happy to discuss these issues with you further and I look forward to your response.
Sincerely,
Erica Halverson, Professor
Department of Curriculum & Instruction

November 3, 2016

Chancellor Rebecca M. Blank
161 Bascom Hall; University of Wisconsin
500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI    53706

Dear Chancellor Blank,

I am a white 58-year-old alumna of this great university (Ph.D., History, 1991), a decades-long lecturer for UW Continuing Studies, and a current undergraduate in the Art Department. My husband and I choose to live close to the university. We are UW supporters and sometime season-ticket holders.

I write concerning the football stadium noose incident on October 29. I read and I appreciate your November 1 letter denouncing the perpetrators and the message they sent to the nation. It is a deep shame upon all who love this university, this city, and this state.

You well know that this horrific occurrence is only the most recent in a painful series of bigoted events on campus. Racist graffiti, public ethnic slurs, digital and verbal threats against minorities, and lopsided UWPD action (April 2016).

A UW culture problem:  Students simply **would not** costume themselves like an imprisoned Obama with a noose unless they **knew** they had a culture of some support around them.

A UW values problem:  Undergirding a Culture Problem is a much more serious Values Problem. Do our students, faculty, staff, and administrators know right from wrong?   Will we uphold “all are created equal”?  And will we with white skin try a lot harder to imagine what the noose says to our black friends? How the racial slur feels?  Do we white alums and students have the spine to stand up when we are less affected?

With sincere respect, Madam Chancellor, clear statements are not enough. Students, faculty/staff, administrators, and city leaders must carve out strong creative initiatives to turn this around. Can the University of Wisconsin become a national flagship for acknowledging, addressing, and reversing its racist trends?  Can we restore our pride in this great university and community?  Yes, it will be hard.  And legislators may make it harder.  But can we do the right thing?

If you need a volunteer, I am at your disposal.

D. Eugenia Sherman Brown


November 3, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank, Director Alvarez and Chief Bridges,

I’m deeply saddened by the black eye that has been imparted upon my alma mader and what many of us to know as an amazing institution of education and employment for all. While I entirely respect the UW’s desire to uphold the first amendment, I think some clarification needs to be instilled systemically throughout the organization on what constitutes free speech versus hate speech.

Increasing diversity efforts at UW-Madison has been an initiative since I attended in the mid-90’s, but, do you think protecting hate speech is going to help bolster those efforts? I do not. I urge all departments of the University, including the athletic departments, to take a stand against hateful acts that erode the work that’s been accomplished in making UW a more diverse and inclusive institution.

Please take action now.

Sincerely,
Kristie Schilling

Executive Director,  Monona East Side Business Alliance


November 2, 2016

To the UW chancellor and athletic director:

I, too, am outraged that you called the “costume” of POTUS with a noose around his neck “free speech” rather than hate speech or a call to violence. I would have called the Secret Service for threatening POTUS.

Any such speech, be it anti-black, muslim, jewish, whatever should be confronted and dealt with as what it is–hateful, dangerous, and inappropriate, especially in an educational institution.

Judy Stone, MD

Contributor, Pharma and Health, Forbes

Author, Molecules to MedicineScientific American Blog Network

Author, Conducting Clinical Research: A Practical Guide for
Physicians, Nurses, Study Coordinators, and Investigators

www.conductingclinicalresearch.com


November 3, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank,

As former Dane County Executive, I am very aware that the greatness of our community is based on our shared values. Reverend Alex Gee, and many of our other community leaders, have stepped up to protect values of greatest importance to us. Please hear their voices and answer their call. Your November 1 statement was an encouraging start. I know of your commitment to social justice and I am very hopeful that the University will take a strong and unequivocal stand against racist behavior at our University. As County Executive, I represented the University and, in addition, received my BA and JD from the school I love. My daughters attended the University of Wisconsin and we carry great pride in our family history with the school.  The University has a long history of fighting for civil rights. Please protect that important legacy.

-Rick Phelps


November 2, 2016

Dear Chancellor,

On this morning’s news I was mildly relieved to see you had revisited your initial blase response to the act of racial hatred so freely exhibited at Camp Randall this past Saturday.  Noting your joining in Barry Alvarez’s response, I couldn’t help wondering if you waited so as not to make waves with the famed and monied athletic department.  It is times like these when leaders such as yourself are most needed to illuminate a path for others.  The path you illuminated was the path of least resistance, a meaningless statement meant to not ruffle white feathers.  My white feathers are ruffled to the point of falling out.  Please take a serious stand against racism, specifically this horrifying noose incident, on the UW campus.  Your lack of such to this point is a painfully strong stand of its own.

I spent six years preparing high school students of color to be successful on UW’s campus and often had an uneasy feeling about what their experience would be.  I know first hand of the heartbreaking experiences of exclusion for many of them.  I had to trust UW Madison to take care of children I knew and loved.  It wasn’t easy then and I really don’t feel good about it today.

Make a difference, Dr. Blank.  Make it matter.  This is your chance.  Take it.

Sincerely,

Michelle McKiernan
Formerly of DoIT’s Information Technology Academy


November 3, 2016

Chancellor Blank, Athletic Director Alvarez and Chief Bridges:

I am emailing you today to express my dismay and disgust with the actions of the UW-Madison Athletic Department, allowing two attendees to remain at the Badger football game dressed in an offensive and dangerous costume. As a UW-Madison alumnus (’87, ’97), and Madison resident, I am hurt and surprised that my alma mater can justify allowing such a racist display demeaning our President remain at the game using the excuse of it being an expression of “free speech.”

I strongly encourage you to lead the University in requiring:

  1. A change in policy that will forbid the entry of students with racist, or otherwise offensive costumes into UW-Madison sponsored events, including sporting events.
  2.  Training for all athletic department staff (and any others involved in the decision to allow the two attendees to remain at the game) in the history of racism, how to identify it and the consequences of not addressing it.
  3.  An apology to UW-Madison students, staff and Wisconsin community members for allowing this situation to occur.

I have been a proud UW-Madison alumnus and academic staff employee in the past; please work to ensure I can be proud of my school again.

Thank you.

Eva Kubinski


November 2, 2016

Good Afternoon,

While I did not attend UW, I live in this city and am a white woman who is completely fed up with the racial injustices in our community. I echo Pastor Gee’s sentiments in his open letter regarding the Obama costume incident during the NE game last weekend. What message are we sending to our brown and black neighbors? What message are we sending out to the rest of the world? You have the opportunity to help set that message straight. We (Madisonians, UW Badgers) will not stand for it.

What is your plan? What are you going to do to help ensure all races feel welcome and safe in our city and on the UW campus?

I appreciate your time,

Marisa Potter


November 3, 2016

Chancellor Black and the UW-Madison administration,

I may not be a Wisconsin alumnae, but as a Madison resident for years now I have enjoyed taking part in UW events and cheering for UW athletics (as long as they aren’t playing my own Illinois teams, of course). I’ve appreciated the school, and that’s why the response to an individual’s offensive costume at Saturday’s game saddened me.

I’m glad officials took action when attention was drawn to the individual, but it did not go far enough. The school should condemn the action for what it rightfully was, hate speech against a race of people, rather than avoid the situation by claiming free speech.

The history of our country surrounding the lynching of black people means that this costume, lynching a black man, cannot be seen as only a political viewpoint. The demographics of Dane county as well gives further weight to the argument. In a place where the Black community is more marginalized than nearly anywhere else in the country, the UW has an opportunity to speak out in solidarity with their students of color. Not only current students and alumni, who feel this disappointment, but on behalf of future students as well, who will not wish to come to a school that allows such blatant actions against them without consequence.

Please reconsider your response. Your position as the flagship school will have repercussions that will be felt by many.

Respectfully,

Anonymous


November 2, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank,

I am a proud double alum of the University of Wisconsin and an adjunct faculty member.  The behavior that I saw displayed at the football game last weekend did NOT make me proud of my university. That individual should have been evicted from the game. You may say it is free speech, but the reality is…it is hate speech.

We need to make a strong statement that this will not be tolerated at our University.

Elizabeth Neary, MD, MS


November 3, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank, Chief Bridges and Director Alvarez,

As an alumni with two degrees from the UW-Madison, I am writing to say that today, I am not proud to be a Badger. I cherish free speech as much as you do, but it should as clear to you as it is to so many in the UW community and elsewhere that the overtly racist display at Saturday’s football game is hate speech and deserves no protection or place on this campus.
Over the past year, there have been so many disturbing reminders (the arrest of Denzel McDonald, white supremacist graffitti, #TheRealUW) that students of color, and especially black students, do not feel safe and welcomed at the UW. And now this. As I’m sure you are aware, this event has been covered by the national press – Huffington Post, The Root, Sports Illustrated, CBS News, Washington Post and USA Today, to name a few. Your response is limp and embarrassing. Worse, it does nothing to make black students, staff and faculty feel that you have their best interests at heart. Or that you even care to understand their lives, their history and their experience at the UW. In fact, it provides further confirmation of Denzel McDonald’s message: “Racism in the air. Don’t breathe.”
I’m sure it felt great for you to welcome Bryan Stevenson to campus for Go Big Read and give him a platform to discuss his groundbreaking project to shed light on the history of lynching in the US. It takes a bit more courage to stand up to a crass depiction of lynching on your own campus. You utterly failed to offer a brave and just response to this incident. It’s not too late to make amends for this failure. Please stand up against this act of hate speech, sanction the perpetrators, and renew your commitment to racial justice at the University of Wisconsin.
Ann Brickson
BA 72, MSSSW 83

November 3, 2016

I write to express my disappointment in the handling of the recent hate speech boldly demonstrated in front of 80,000 Badger fans including my 12 year old “Little Brother” who is an African American/Latino young man I took to the Nebraska game.  Facts are still being discovered so I will reserve judgment about the fans that either tolerated or encouraged this despicable display of taunting that the noose on our first Black President represented.  However, sufficient facts are and were available to the Chancellor, the Athletic Director and University Policy to warrant more of a reaction then resort to the claimed nuances of balancing free speech rights.  This isn’t close to being nuanced or in need of balancing. It was hate speech and warranted immediate expulsion from the game with consequences that showed others that the University understands the pain and horror that these acts imposed on us all.

AD Alvarez welcomes input and dialogue from all affected.  OK as far as that goes.  But where is his outrage, where is his core repulsion that shouldn’t need dialogue and input to trigger?  There are so many of us who cherish UW, work hard for social justice here in Madison, and desperately want to right our ship that bigots and misogynists try to sink.  It’s a shame that a poor response to this event will overshadow so many of those efforts.

The concern for free speech on campus and balancing that precious right against excessive PC or trigger warnings does indeed warrant nuance and calibrated responses.  However, when we are confronted with unadulterated hate speech, a lukewarm or timid response just inflames the debate because it shows we have no bright or guiding principals, only the cautious, bureaucratic pablum of the fearful too timid to have the courage of their convictions.

Eric A. Farnsworth


November 2, 2016

To Chancellor Rebecca Bland and Coach Barry Alvarez,

Free Speech?

Really?
You Are Either Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem.

Our first Black president, a noose wrapped around his neck, dressed in prison stripes is far from free speech. This costume is hateful as well as spiritually and psychologically damaging to the university and to our community. The fact that you would tolerate such blatant, bigoted, violent imagery as freedom of speech shows you are either gutless or condone the sentiment. You have no excuse. The picture is worth a thousand words. The communication is definitely clear. As a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, a Wisconsin taxpayer and a member of the Madison community I am appalled that you allowed this to get by as free speech. Even if it had to go to court I would expect you to stand behind your claims of embracing diversity and take it all the way to the Supreme court if necessary. By doing nothing you said something louder than words.

Katharine Goray

November 3, 2016

I’m writing to express my concern over your  response to the anti-black hatred which was expressed at the recent football game. The noose costume was abhorrent, and although we live in a free country, the University can disallow students from events who express such vile and hateful viewpoints. Free speech is not without consequence, it’s just not illegal from within our government. Words and actions do have consequences and the University needs to stand up against these acts to show that they will not be tolerated on campus. I’m very concerned about the racial incidents that have been taking place on campus lately and we need to see our places of higher learning stand up for what is right.
UW Madison alumni,
Elizabeth Macasaet

November 3, 2016

Dear Ms. Blank
I am writing this in response to the lack of proper handling of the recent racist act at the badger football game.
I attended uw at one point of my college career & have always been proud of Madison, as a school & city.
The recent racists acts in the past year have changed that drastically.
This needs to be addressed & taken as seriously as it is.
If the person doing this at the game was wearing a KKK hood, would they be treated more seriously? Because they may as well have.
I will be a part of any conversation regarding this. As a lifelong resident of Madison, I am saddened & angered at this.

Take care,
Amy Vincent, MS,SAC
Lifelong Madison resident


November 3, 2016

Dear University of Wisconsin Leaders,

I’m writing this letter to express my personal outrage over the dismissive response, by University of Wisconsin athletic staff,

to the racist and oppressive message portrayed in a costume worn by a white Badgers fan depicting President Obama with a noose .

I stand with Reverend Alex Gee and others who not only understand, and feel, the horrific symbolism behind the image of a hanged Black man, much less our Black President of the U.S, but how it grows racism, hate and the very mentality that drove the enslavement of Black people and the Jim Crow era that followed (and continues). That this individual was allowed into a campus event (a game historically played by Black athletes and managed by a white system), or tolerated at any UW function under any circumstances, shows UW’s participation in the same systemically racist policies that unfortunately permeate our nation’s schools and institutions.

Even a tincture of tolerance of hatred on the UW campus shows the UW’s attempts at diversity and inclusion are failing.

As Reverend Gee has called for, I urge you to review this matter at the highest level and assure your community that systems have been seriously and intentionally put into place to prevent the tolerance of white supremacy on or as an outgrowth of the UW community.

Pat Dillon

Independent Writer

patjdillon.com


November 3, 2016
Good afternoon,
I am writing to add my voice to the public outcry  over the university’s use of the exercise of free speech as its response to the presence of A person in a Barack Obama costume with a noose around his neck.  I would like you to consider the following:
1.  You have, and will hear more, about the destructiveness of the image of a noose around the neck of a Black Man.  Of all of the symbols that could have been used to degrade, devalue and dehumanize Black folks, that is absolutely the worst.  I am white, but I would think twice – more than twice- about supporting a University that is attempting to become more diversified on one hand and responding to this sort of behavior with a classic “boys will be boys” response.  I am ashamed of you.  My letter will go to my Undergraduate School (Grinnell College) in addition to you as we send a great many graduate students your way.  Your actions are antithetical to the mission and vision of Grinnell so they need to know of this action on your part in order to counsel their students elsewhere.
2.   Free Speech.  That person could have walked the public spaces of this city all day and lawfully exercised his/her right to free speech.  Since the University is a public university, Camp Randall Stadium is, theoretically, public space.  However, you have defined certain fundamental rules for those who wish to attend events at Camp Randall   You have some basic rules of dress, behavior, basic civility (can’t yell at the referees), etc.  This incident falls under your own code of conduct for Camp Randall and you should have dealt with the situation immediately by asking them to leave as you would have anyone violating your basic code.
3.  The Office of the Presidency.  Finally, it is the duty of every American citizen to respect the office of the Presidency.  We are free to dislike, even hate, the person who occupies that office.  We are not free to totally disrespect the office.  Barack Obama is the sitting president.  When Jessie Helms called out then President Clinton, the senate censored him. His actions were trivial compared to these actions
I am reading that you will be putting new rules into place before the next football game.  Thank You.  On the other hand, how and why did you ever allow this to happen in the first place?   I am now ashamed to tell folks I live In madison.
Leanne Puglielli, Ph.D.
DemoSoph Enterprises

November 3, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank,

As a white alum of the UW Law School, I am horrified by your response to the use of racial terror by an attendee at a UW football game; it is totally unacceptable to frame this incident, where the attendee displayed an image of our nation’s first black president with a noose around his neck, as some sort of free speech issue.  Do you really think threatening and inciting racial violence is an acceptable behavior?

I am so embarrassed by the UW’s continual blunders in dealing with racial hatred and the resulting safety issues for ALL of our UW students. Don’t think for a minute that only parents of black children have safety concerns–allowing the incitement of racial violence and terror with impunity causes a ripple effect that harms us all.  As a parent, I would not be comfortable sending my children to a school which doesn’t take a strong stance against displays of racial terror and violence because this shows that the school does not prioritize the safety and wellbeing of its students.

Your actions and inactions are causing irreparable harm to our cherished school, and I am deeply saddened by this.

Sincerely,

Anonymous


November 3, 2016

My Letter to the Chancellor and Barry Alvarez:

Look at this picture.  LOOK at this picture!
THIS happened less than a mile from our home, at beloved Camp Randall (on Hallowed Ground from the Civil War).
THIS happened during a wonderful game that everyone was so happy about – until this surfaced.
THIS happened not at a Southern, known for its racism campus, but at the University of Wisconsin-Madison!
THIS happened at a time when our city is still reeling from Tony Robinson’s death.
THIS happened at a time when the achievement Gap in Madison is causing so much soul searching.
THIS happened on our watch.
THIS happened on your watch.
THIS happened and was not stopped.
Why not? It is clearly hate speech, let alone threatening to our President. Were the Secret Service called?  Why not?
Plans to never let this happen again are of course essential.  But what about the people who did this? Who were they? Why were they allowed into the Stadium? Who let them into the Stadium? Why weren’t they thrown out? Why are they not being punished?
It’s TIME.  These people cannot be allowed to just get away with this.
I am “White”.  I went to the UW.  I live here.  I’ve been a Teacher here. I have taught Student Teachers from the UW. I am a Madisonian through and through and I have HAD IT! I’m sick of this “sweeping under the rug” in hindsight.  It’s time to stand WITH our black friends, neighbors, coworkers and students and demand actions. Not just words.
LOOK at this picture.

Debbie Simon Konkol


November 3, 2016

Chancellor Blank & Director Alvarez,

I am writing to express my great concern and distress regarding the systemic inequities & discriminatory privilege that have come to light recently at UW Madison.

As a white male, awareness of my privilege (and its impact on others) began with reading Reverend Alex Gee’s “Justified Anger” essay and attending the subsequent town meeting in February of 2014.  Numerous speaker forums, book discussions and film viewings later, I am stunned at the omissions in my education and aghast by how this country has treated & marginalized minority populations throughout our history.

The University of Wisconsin System is charged with serving all of the state’s constituencies–a responsibility even more highly scrutinized & criticized of late, despite the efforts of various diversity committees across the campus.  The underlying systemic barriers identified by multiple groups requires comprehensive re-engineering of the UW governance infrastructure, something another blue ribbon task force cannot accomplish.

Simply stated, leadership, vision and commitment from the top is required and now is the time to take action.  and make a real difference for everyone.

Rex Loker

Madison, WI


November 3, 2016

Dear Director Alvarez and Chancellor Blank,

I write to you today to address the response of UW to the incident involving a noose put around the costume of President Obama at the UW-Nebraska football game.  As a UW Alumni, I care very much about UW,  it’s reputation, and it’s many efforts to bring equity and diversity to the campus.

We all have a lot to learn, especially us white people.  This type of response must not happen again.  It is, really, outrageous and hurtful not only to black people, but also to all of us.

Thank you. I hope to hear more about how future incidents will be handled.

Sincerely,

Marian Fredal, MS

Class of 1981


November 3. 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank,

As an alumnus of the Wisconsin School of Business, I was horrified by the hateful conduct at the most recent football game. The racism expressed by having a noose around an effigy of President Obama cannot be ignored. We must address such bigotry as it occurs. I was deeply disappointed by the flaccid response from campus officials.

Furthermore, we need to be more proactive in preventing such flagrant displays of ignorance and hate. How can the university build a more genuinely inclusive community? I believe the answer lies in addressing the explicit and implicit biases of all those that belong to the university. It needs to be done in a systematic, ongoing, and compassionate manner informed by the latest research.

Please take action immediately to redress the causes of this hateful action. Let me know how I and other alumni can help in this effort, or at the very least, communicate your plans to us. Thank you.

Warm Regards,
Ed Maxwell


November 3, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank,

As an alumni of UW-Madison (BS ’97), I am absolutely disgusted with the treasonous and racist act portrayed in national media during a recent football game. I am also shocked at the lack of response from you and the University following this event. While free speech is an important Constitutional guarantee, hate speech is not protected free speech. By remaining passive in response to this act, the University is complicit in ignoring and perpetuating a history of Black oppression locally and nationally. While attending UW, I often found athletics (particularly football) to be at odds with the University’s scholarly mission. In many ways, the crowds that gather to drunkenly cheer on their team serve the lowest common denominator. Your lack of action does nothing to change my mind on the subject. I sincerely hope that more than just temporary lip service occurs as a result of this racist act, an act that is certainly not an isolated event at UW.

Respectfully,
Dan Beaman

November 3, 2016

Dear Chancellor Blank and Director Alvarez,

As a three degree University of Wisconsin graduate (BS, MS, PhD) I am very saddened to see my beloved university shown to the world in the light of the racist behavior at a UW football game. I am writing to implore you to seriously address racism in the university community. What happened at the football game was not freedom of speech, it was hate and racism. You know it, and I know it.

And if you saw it as freedom of speech, it could have been handled by using freedom of speech. In my fantasy, Barry Alvarez gets out of his seat, walks into the stands and personally uses his freedom of speech to confront the man wearing a costume lynching Obama. Also, I’m sorry we didn’t see a public shaming and booing directed at this man by fans around him, also exercising freedom of speech. 

Creating standards of behavior that will be enforced at public UW events is a good step. It isn’t enough. We need to see leadership from those who carry great influence over a wide range of people in Wisconsin. And that means leadership must come from the athletic department, from the visible coaches and athletic directors. You are known in the state and respected by folks from all walks of life, from all backgrounds. Please step up and show that this matters.

My mother did not finish high school. I grew up as a white person in Madison and was raised in a home that taught that all people are created equal, that racist remarks were never acceptable. My mother was a wise woman and had this to say about the McCarthy era. She said that President Eisenhower was so popular and had so much influence that he could have silenced McCarthy and his ilk early on, ending the terrible Communist witch hunt. I have never forgotten this lesson.

In the same way, those of you who carry this kind of influence must very visibly and wholeheartedly speak out against this terrible racist behavior. Use your freedom of speech to condemn it. Take action to prevent it. People will listen.

Sincerely,

Diane Weiner

BS 1973

MS 1984

PhD 1995