Community, UW campus leaders meet to discuss racial climate

Community, UW campus leaders meet to discuss racial climate

University of Wisconsin-Madison campus leaders responded to community concerns at a forum Monday night following incidents of racial discrimination culminating in campus protests over the past few months.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW Police Chief Sue Riseling joined community leaders and residents at the Urban League of Madison, answering questions and acknowledging problems plaguing campus in recent weeks.

Among those problems is the arrest of a student for graffiti last week, when police officers removed him from his class on campus.

“I’m hoping that all of you give me the benefit of the doubt, that [I’m not defined] by one moment in time where people that work for me made a mistake,” Riseling said of the incident.

For their part, the UW leaders largely kept quiet, only speaking to respond to questions.

“I’m here tonight to listen to all of you,” Riseling said. “Tell me what you want, so that I can make it better or as best as I can make it.”

“We’re at a point where I hear from some students that they don’t feel safe on campus,” Blank said. “I find that incredibly sad but also a real motivator to say, ‘We have some changes that we’ve got to be about doing on campus.'”

Around 100 people packed the room to listen to the conversation and voice their own concerns.

One participant asked what’s being done to ensure her children are safe on campus. Others asked about the next steps to changing the climate there.

“Including the whole community in the conversation is important, and in any situations it starts with one group and then starts outward,” Blank said.