May 4, 2023
Contact: Representative Hong, 608-267-9176              
               Alder Govindarajan, 608-509-9119
               Alder Bennett, 608-960-9063
RE: Joint Statement on Recent Racist Video Circulated at UW-Madison

A video recently surfaced of a University of Wisconsin-Madison student using racial slurs and describing her hatred towards Black people. As elected officials representing areas of the greater campus area, we fervently condemn such hatred towards the Black community and stand in solidarity with the Black students, alumni, faculty and staff negatively impacted by the video. 

Our commitment to the Black community is demonstrated through Representative Hong’s statement, "I am deeply disturbed by the racist, vile and threatening remarks made by a white UW-Madison student in a recently circulated video, that dehumanized Black people. The continued resilience, leadership and contributions of the Black students, staff, faculty and community leaders at UW-Madison deserves relentless support and celebration. The racist views expressed in the video have no place on campus or anywhere.”

We recognize that the video is yet another tangible representation of the racial discrimination, hatred, and exclusion that Black people at UW face daily. As District 8 Alder, MGR Govindarajan stated, “These actions go beyond just one student as shown by the laughing in the background. Us students of color know that this is one of many closed door statements that made its way to public light, and we are sick of it. If the University truly values what they preach through the Sifting and Reckoning Exhibit, we expect them to take immediate action to protect us and actually make us feel welcomed at UW.” 

The university has failed to take measurable actions to uplift Black students, beyond lip-service. UW-Madison has the lowest percentage of Black students out of all Big Ten colleges with only 1,756 Black students of the 47,936 students, as of 2021. The only dedicated space for Black students to gather on campus is one floor the Red Gym, crowded in with the many other multicultural organizations on campus. Black students regularly express feelings of isolation, tokenization, and exclusion during their time at UW.

District 2 Alder, Juliana Bennett issued the following statement, “Of the over 150 years of UW-Madison history, the university has made little to no effort to recruit and retain Black students, through making us feel safe, welcomed, and included. There is no surprise to see videos of students expressing hatred towards Black people. We cannot expect the entire student body to respect, welcome, and celebrate Black students, when the university as an institution has made little effort themselves.”

We call on the University of Wisconsin-Madison to do better. We believe the university can and should be a model of uplifting UW’s Black community to reach high levels of excellence. This can be achieved through engaging Black voices and instituting actionable initiatives that combat the racial disparities at UW-Madison. Our offices will continue to provide resources and foster needed conversations to uplift Black people and create safer spaces of radical inclusion.