Comment sparks controversy: UW-Madison students protest house fellow’s leave of absence

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison protested the leave of a house fellow on Monday, after the fellow reportedly made racist comments last week. The students said the fellow didn’t do anything wrong.

House fellow Chuefeng Yang was working at Witte Hall’s Multicultural Learning Community when they asked that a student limit the number of white students that are brought into that community. White students complained to UW-Madison, saying they felt unwelcome.

“I think what Chuefeng was trying to say is that, when you bring people to this space, you really need to be intentional of who you bring, so that they don’t harm other marginalized students on the floor, so that they don’t re-traumatize students who are basically just trying to live and survive,” said UW-Madison student Lisa Yaj.

Two hours after the university received the complaints, it put Yang on a paid leave of absence.

On Monday, students protested Yang’s removal from the dormitory. They said that the university is much more likely to respond to complaints from a white student, compared to complaints from a student of color.

Students argued that the MLC is meant as a safe space for students of color and while white students are welcome in it, they have vandalized it before.

University Communications responded to the protest in an email, part of which said, “Residents have the right to invite whatever visitors they wish, regardless of their background/identity.”

Students said they’ll continue to make sure that their voices are heard, equal to those of white students.

“We want people who will fight for us,” Yaj said, “We’ve been crying about it for years. Nothing happens.”

Students will give the university a list of demands, which include that the university issues a formal apology to residents in the MLC and offers the space additional resources.

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