Update 5/4/17: It appears that the student body at The University of Wisconsin-Madison won’t let the institution move past its racist past so easily. Carmen Gosey, the outgoing president of the Associated Students of Madison, wrote a scathing letter calling the school out for its actions.
“This institution does not care about people of color,” she wrote. “This institution does not care about people of color.”
“I was operating in a white position as a person of color,” Goséy wrote. “Now I see the University was not designed for the success of minority communities; it was designed for white students to learn about my oppression while not having to participate in dismantling it.”
“I have struggled with the juxtaposition of my identity and representing a campus that does not look like me or remotely relate to my experience,” she continued
Original Story: The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been the home of multiple racist incidents that seemingly came to a head within the past year. Students have tried to start on-campus white supremacist groups and been allowed into football games while wearing costumes showing President Obama in a prison jumpsuit.
To combat what’s perceived as an unwelcoming environment, school officials plan to open The Black Cultural Center inside UW-Madison’s Red Gym, according to the Wisconsin State-Journal.
While Black students have long had unofficial meeting spaces, the new center will ideally become a sign that the school supports the community and the diversity it brings.
“It matters a lot for students—but specifically black students in spaces where we haven’t always been welcome—to have a community and a space where you can be yourself,” said Harvey Long, a doctoral student researching the school’s history of black enrollment. “I think it’s vital.”
The opening of the center will include performances and discussions on Wednesday, including a presentation from Long.
“The institution must continue to be aware of and fight for students of color,” Long said. “It’s a step in the right direction, and it’s a concrete example of what happens when students are engaged in activism.”