Our university has made great strides over the years to become more inclusive — recruiting students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds while empowering them to exercise their gifts and talents within our community. Nonetheless, our work continues.
As we strive to promote a sense of belonging for all community members, we practice respect for their beliefs, backgrounds and ways of being. Inclusion makes for a great university; engagement with each other capitalizes on the potential that inclusion promises.
The information on this page does not capture the totality of campus climate enhancement efforts for this academic year — it is merely an update on some upcoming initiatives and others currently in progress.
This summer a Campus Climate report will be compiled, which should give us deeper insight on our climate enhancement efforts and help us identify areas that need bolstering.
On October 16-20, 2017, UW-Whitewater will host the annual Campus Diversity Forum. This year's focus is on enhancing campus culture and building community through the arts. Extensive evidence shows that arts participation strengthens and transforms communities by fostering civic engagement and cultural vitality.
Engaging in the arts exposes individuals to diverse viewpoints and lived experiences by teaching empathy and understanding. When the arts are integral to public spaces, they can redefine and enliven the public realm. Research studies show that art energizes public spaces with creative spirit and joy.
The goal of our campus diversity forum is three-fold: (1) to strengthen the connection between the UW-Whitewater campus culture working group and individual faculty, staff, students and community members, (2) to bring diverse groups together for dialogue and perspective-taking, and (3) to use the arts performances and projects that are part of the forum to create a heightened awareness of diverse cultures and of diversity issues impacting the world today.
On Monday, Oct. 16, the forum will open with an afternoon "Diversity and the Arts" festival on Wyman Mall. Performances will include UW-Whitewater choirs, artists, photographers, musicians and much more. That evening, Young Auditorium will host a free performance of "One Drop of Love," a theatre piece that explores mixed-race identity and experiences in the U.S.
On Oct. 17-19, workshops, exhibitions, lectures, and performances will take place, culminating in a free performance by the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and the UW-Whitewater music department on Thursday evening. On Friday morning, campus faculty, staff, and student leaders will have an opportunity to reflect on the forum and on campus culture in general at a luncheon hosted by the College of Arts and Communication diversity forum planning committee and the Young Auditorium.
The need has been stated numerous times that international students, transgender individuals, and others who prefer to use a middle name or nickname (versus their legal names) to self-identify is critical to enhancing campus climate. UW-Whitewater is committed to fostering an inclusive campus that respects and values self-expression.
The Chancellor's Committee on LGBT* Issues is providing leadership on this proposed policy. They are currently gathering input from all of the campus' governing bodies and the policy will ultimately go to the Chancellor's Cabinet for approval, with implementation tentatively scheduled for fall 2017.
Succinctly, the policy would state that: It is the policy of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater that students may choose to identify themselves within the university community with a preferred first and/or middle name on all college records that do not require a legal name. The preferred name will appear alongside or instead of the person's legal name in university-related systems and documents where it is technically feasible, except where the use of the legal name is required by university business or legal need.
As a community, enhancing campus climate is everyone's responsibility. Moreover, in efforts to prevent sexual assault, acts of racism, and other egregious behavior, personal action on the behalf of community members is an important part of the solution to an inclusive campus.
Toward that end, several individuals (Sarah Suter, Jan Bilgen, Tyler Henderson, Karina Tomei, and Erica Fischer) are working on one mechanism to bolster individuals' capacity to intervene: a Bystander Intervention Training Video.
This team is conducting research, writing a script, and producing the video using the real-life experiences of UW-Whitewater students. This training video will be used extensively in fall of 2017. The intent is to use the American University video as inspiration and expand it to include topics such as racial discrimination, sexism, hate speech, hazing and alcohol abuse.
University Housing has enhanced the campus climate through a variety of social justice initiatives, policies and programs this academic year. More than 1,300 students completed the Boxes and Walls interactive program that gives the participant the opportunity to experience what it is like to be an underrepresented student on our campus.
Diversity Advocates performed more than 40 programs this year in the residence halls on a variety of social justice topics, and offered many Safe Zone Certification trainings to residents. The Residence Life staff all chose two undergraduate students from underrepresented groups to mentor throughout the year. The staff also served as liaisons to most of the campus student organizations for underrepresented groups such as the Black Student Union and Impact. These liaisons provide support, serve as a resource and conduit of information and give these groups a direct link to University Housing.
University Housing also offers gender-neutral housing to students - which allows students of any sex or gender to room together, including students who do not wish to be identified by any gender and students who feel that they would cooperate better with a roommate of the opposite gender. More information and the Gender Inclusive Application can be found at: http://www.uww.edu/housing/assignments/gender-inclusive-application
University Housing also makes it a priority in their staff recruitment and hiring process to hire staff members that are representative of all of our students.
Marketing and Media Relations is currently working on a student voices video that reinforces the positive actions of students, faculty and staff that help create a sense of community. Student Voices is also the focus of UW-Whitewater viewbooks, including the Spanish-language and international versions. We believe we are the first UW System campus to have a Spanish-language viewbook.
Marketing and Media Relations is in the initial phase of assembling a Spanish Language Resource Team that will determine best practices and a style guide for developing Spanish-language content on campus and will serve as an ongoing resource. Current members are Dulce Danel Uribe (Admissions), Sonia Gambsky (Registrar's Office), Lisa Huempfner (Languages and Literatures), and Kristine Zaballos (Marketing and Media Relations). Other groups who will be invited to send a representative: Latinos Unidos (student organization), LLAVE, University Housing, Financial Services, etc. The goal is to have the best practices and style guide completed for the fall 2017 semester.
Marketing and Media Relations has joined a team of campus colleagues investigating food insecurity at UW-Whitewater and looking into the possibility of starting a campus food pantry. Team members include Choton Basu, Andy Browning, Kathy Dreshsler, Wes Enterline, Sarah Hessenhauer, Kim Nesting, Seth Meisel, Kristine Zaballos and members of Enactus and SAGE. The team is currently working on drafting an application for a startup grant.
This recent event was sponsored and coordinated by the Admissions Office. This was the first year that the event was hosted by Admissions. In the past, LLAVE was organized by Julie Minikel-Lacocque and the College of Education and Professional Studies.
The Admissions Office's goal was to grow the event, streamline it, and have it be as much about community outreach as it was about university promotion. Another goal was to provide as much of the event in Spanish as possible to make the families feel comfortable and welcome. The main admissions recruiting piece, the viewbook, was translated completely into Spanish for this event.
Working closely with grassroots organizations and educators to spread awareness, the event drew more than 70 people. Participants were provided bus transportation to campus from Madison, and the majority of families took advantage of this free transportation. The event included a student-led tour of campus; presentations on college admissions, financial aid, the Center for Students with Disabilities; an information fair with representatives from every College and other constituent groups from campus; and question and answer panels with an immigration lawyer and current UW-Whitewater Latino students.
The overwhelming response from the families was gratitude to the university for providing not only an event, but also a safe space where questions could be answered in their native language without the fear of judgment. It is the Admissions Office goal to continue this event and grow it year by year.
The Pride Center hosted two trainers from The Safe Zone Project to revamp safe zone offerings on campus and build a larger network of facilitators. During a two-day workshop, 25 people were trained as Safe Zone facilitators, and have since led four workshops (with 60 participants total). The LGBT* Coordinator, Stephanie Selvick, is co-facilitating a workshop with each Safe Zone facilitator in order to amplify their comfort with the material.
We've made two significant changes: (1) We are continuing to revise the Safe Zone content to best suit our campus's needs, and (2) We are offering monthly "drop-in" Safe Zone workshops, as well as workshops by request.
The Chancellor's Committee for LGBT* Issues will have a 2017-18 schedule for those monthly drop-in workshops so that campus members can plan accordingly. We are also open to all suggestions for additional outreach. For instance, various departmental orientations seem to be missed opportunities.
UW-Whitewater students played in integral part in the planning, preparation, promotion and implementation of the Purple Perspectives event that was held on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. The purpose of Purple Perspectives was to bring together Warhawk family members to share the diverse perspectives of students, faculty, staff and administration through open dialogue, shared stories and activities.
Participants reflected on the past and shared their thoughts for shaping the future — what we desire to see in relation to enhancing UW-Whitewater's campus culture and building a stronger Warhawk family.
This was an all-day event from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. in the University Center's Warhawk Connection Center. Fifteen student leaders, faculty, staff and administration served as hosts for the event throughout the day. Approximately 55 students participated in the event at various times.