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UW student seeks to create dialogue through controversial video as campus community remains divided on method

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 7:09pm

University of Wisconsin junior Eneale Pickett is no stranger to backlash.

Tuesday, he released a 10-second preview of his video which sought to promote his new line of clothing from Insert Apparel and bring about discourse surrounding issues of systemic racism and police brutality. The complete line and full version of his commercial became available Friday afternoon.

UW student prepares to release latest clothing line confronting police brutality, racismAfter creating a national uproar over his controversial “All White People Are Racist” hoodie, University of Wisconsin junior Eneale Pickett Read…

The initial announcement garnered nationwide attention, including that of a Wisconsin lawmaker.

State. Sen. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, condemned his work in a press release as a “clear threat” to police officers and called for an investigation against him and involved students.

UW officials also commented on his clothing line, saying it was not affiliated nor endorsed by the university. In a press release, UW said Pickett exercised his right to expressing his political opinions, although they disapproved of the violent images shown in his video.

Sen. Nass criticizes UW for hosting student’s graphic videoAfter Eneale Pickett announced yesterday he was releasing a new line of clothing and a commercial, Senator Steve Nass condemned the Read…

In the video, graphic images of a bloody pig’s head wearing a police hat, the hanging of a student with an American flag and a scene where two people wearing pig masks are chased by a student with a weapon are displayed.

Pickett said the commercial was inspired by a dream he had several months ago — of six students laying down with one standing in the middle holding petals, symbolizing black bodies. This scene is replicated in the video.

He was also driven by President Donald Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville riots to create the video.

Throughout the commercial, soundbites of Trump’s speech on Charlottesville and chanting such as “White Lives Matter” and “Jews will not replace us” are heard. Instead of using music, Pickett said he chose to use Trump’s words to avoid diluting the message and highlight the president’s reluctancy in denouncing white supremacists.

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“These are the words of the president of the United States. This is who people elected, who people wanted to run the country and he won’t even denounce white supremacists,” Pickett said. 

The students in the video are shown in masks, with hashtags painted in white to illustrate how hashtags are ephemeral and never fully formed, Pickett said. Some are painted lopsided to represent how hashtags always come and go, he added, including the names of those who lost their lives in police shootings.

The most controversial image in the video is the depiction of the pig masks and the bloody pig head wearing a police officer hat. Pickett said he took inspiration from the Black Panthers in the ’70s, who often referred to officers as “pigs.”

“The police are thinking, ‘If I have a family to feed and I have to give you a ticket or I have to profile your black body, I’m profiling your black body because I need to eat and my family needs to eat’,” Pickett said. “Look past the blood on the pig’s head and look deeper inside yourself.”

Courtesy of Eneale Pickett

UW student receives death threats after debuting new clothing lineEditor’s note: This article contains racially charged language that might be offensive to readers.  University of Wisconsin sophomore and First Read…

Pickett noted this new line of clothing is the most aggressive. He uses strong images to draw emotion and reactions out of his viewers.

“You would never talk about something unless it hit you in your heart, in your face,” Pickett said.

Ultimately, Pickett wants people to critically analyze the criminal justice system, and the disproportionate targeting of black and brown bodies by the police.

His goal, he said, is not to change minds, but to make people aware of critical issues and create discussions around it.

“Some people say ‘Well if they did nothing, why did they run?’ If you walk up on me and you got your hand on your gun, I’m running, because at the end of the day, you could kill me just to kill me,” Pickett said. “So I’m not just going to stand there and get shot. Imma do what I have to do to survive. And if that means I have to run, I will run.”

The student unquestionably has the First Amendment right to engage in hateful speech like this. 2/

— WI AG Brad Schimel (@WisDOJ) September 21, 2017

Despite highlighting issues specifically pertaining to the black community, Pickett reiterated the line is for all people — including people who do not identify as black.

Other members of the campus community, however, are concerned about the violent images displayed in the video.

While Jake Lubenow, chair of College Republicans, said he understands the message Pickett is trying to bring forward, he ultimately disagrees with the way in which Pickett went about bringing about those issues to light in the video.

“[The video] is very disturbing. I understand the message of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the issues it brings up, but it is concerning for aunts and mothers who have students that go here and the message it brings about police officers now,” Lubenow said.

Nolan Ferlic/The Badger Herald

On a similar note, Abigail Streu, chairwoman of UW’s Young Americans for Freedom, also understands the message of Pickett’s video and believes he brings up valid points of issues such as police brutality.

Ultimately, though, Streu is concerned with the message the video contains against law enforcement.

“He has every right to say what he wants, I think that he’s going in the right way — Eneale wants social change and he’s attempting to do that,” Streu said. “My personal problem with the video … I see what he’s doing and saying with the bloody pig head, but I just don’t think that the video is great in the sense that a lot of people took it as inciting violence against officers.”

When asked how he hopes white students respond to this video, Pickett advised them to explain the meaning of the video to their peers if they understand it.

Pickett noted the power of hearing information from people you relate to or share the same identities with, rather than someone of a different race or identity.

“If another cisgender heterosexual white man tells another cisgender heterosexual white man ‘I think the police is corrupt,’ right then and there you’re gonna be like ‘tell me more,'” Pickett said

Pickett plans on releasing a video explaining the meaning of his video Monday to avoid misunderstanding with his intent — this wait was intentional, so as to ensure viewers could process and form their own opinion.

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Categories: Local Media

Leadership organization focused on team building workshops receives SSFC eligibility hearing

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 9:32pm

Student Services Finance Committee met Thursday to discuss eligibility for Adventure Learning Programs, a leadership organization designed to challenge people through adventure based activities and through adventure based learning.

ALPs co-student directors Elizabeth Hayes and Cooper Beckwith said one of the goals of the team building workshops is to encourage people to discover themselves and understand those around them. ALPs also looks to provide the most “effective experience” for its participants.

“Adventure learning is a type of experiential education, which is also known as learning by doing,” Hayes said.  

Beckwith said 87 percent of beneficiaries are University of Wisconsin students. Hayes explained if 75 percent of a group is UW students, then there is no fee and the group doesn’t have to pay to participate. If the group is less than 75 percent of UW students, then the group has to pay for the workshop.

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Multiple SSFC representatives raised concerns with UW students paying extra, or nonstudents being covered by segregated fees.

Rep. Zaakir Abdul-Wahid asked how students would know if they’re supposed to pay or not.

“If a bunch of different students and nonstudents sign up, is there more a concise way to let students know in advance that if you do this program you might have to have to pay in addition to the segregated fees,” Abdul-Wahid said.

But Beckwith said ALPs has never seen a situation where it’s been a mix of students and nonstudents.

Typically, the organization’s groups are either 100 percent students or 0 percent students, Beckwith said.

“We don’t typically have groups where it’s a few students here and a few members of the Madison community,” Beckwith said.

Rep. Jeremy Swanson, and others, raised the concern that the numbers presented by ALPs during the presentation were not matching up with the numbers they provided in their student served tracking form.

The eligibility for ALPs will be decided during a later meeting.

SSFC also voted to extend eligibility for Greater University Student Services in a 10-0-1 vote and for Sex Out Loud in a 9-0-2 vote.

The finance committee will reconvene Monday.

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Categories: Local Media

Gov. Scott Walker signs biennial budget into law

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 6:03pm

After a two month delay, Gov. Scott Walker signed the 2017-19 biennial budget into law Thursday at an elementary school in Neenah. 

Walker said in a statement the budget’s priorities fell into three categories — student success, accountable government and rewarding work.

“After listening to families and hardworking taxpayers across our state, we built this budget based on the people’s priorities,” Walker said. “I thank the Legislature for keeping the core of our budget in place which includes historic K-12 education funding, property tax relief, and more funding for broadband and worker training.”

The $76 billion budget narrowly passed the state Senate in a 19-14 vote and was more than 10 weeks overdue due to disagreement in the Legislature about education and transportation funding.

State Senate narrowly passes biennial budgetAfter hours of debate and uncertainty that Republicans had enough votes, the Wisconsin State Senate narrowly approved the $76 billion Read…

Provisions from the state budget include a tuition freeze for University of Wisconsin System in-state undergraduate students, $636 million increase in state aid for K-12 schools and $5 million for Wisconsin Technical Colleges to help train students for high-demand fields.

State Rep. Patrick Snyder, R-Schofield, praised the budget, especially the investment to K-12 education.

“The budget signed by Governor Walker today strongly invests in the future of our children while holding the line on taxes for our hard-working families,” Snyder said in a statement.

Democrats, including state Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, however, have been concerned the budget favors the wealthy.

“As Wisconsin working families continue to pay more for less, the Republican budget further rigs the economy for the wealthy,” Shilling said. “This budget was bad from the start, and with his veto pen Gov. Walker managed to make it worse by cutting more funding from Wisconsin schools while keeping a tax break for 47 millionaires.”

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Before signing the budget, Walker issued 98 vetoes to various parts of the budget Wednesday.

State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, had concerns regarding Walker’s veto to a portion of the budget that would have increased funding for low-revenue schools.

“I am severely disappointed in Gov. Walker’s decision to reject an opportunity to correct a long-term inequity in our K12 funding system,” Nygren said in a statement. “The veto will continue this funding imbalance and have lasting impacts on the quality of education available to some of our children.”

Despite criticisms of the budget, Walker is “optimistic” about the future of Wisconsin.

“I have never been more optimistic about the future of our state,” Walker said. “We are working and winning for Wisconsin.”

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Categories: Local Media

Food justice activist places communities of color at center of agriculture narrative

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 12:01am

After spending five years traveling 15,000 miles, Author and agriculture advocate Natasha Bowens has finally completed her journey across the country collecting stories from farmers and food growers of color.

Her purpose was to understand why she saw so few black and brown farmers working alongside her on the farm.

Bowens comes to UW as part of the Nelson Institute Everyone’s Earth lecture series, which is intended to promote intersectional dialogue about race and the environment.

“There was a general consensus that environmentalism, or concern about the environment… was pretty white, pretty male and pretty middle class,” Nelson Institute Paul Robbins said. “We just made that our highest priority for speakers [to] bring people to campus who would change the face of environmental studies.”

When Bowens was first starting her organic farm work, she found it liberating to be out on the soil because it felt like she was engaging in the agricultural tradition of her ancestors.

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Bowens soon began to feel out of place, however, as she began to notice that she was the only woman of color on the farm.

“I loved that special connection with the land, that personal connection that I [had] when my hands were in the soil,” Bowens said. “But I felt it fading very quickly as I didn’t see my face in the movement around me, I didn’t see my people represented in the movement around me.”

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation only two percent of Americans live on farms. Within that sliver of the population, almost 96 percent of farm operators are white and 86 percent are male, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

While the traditional imagery of an American farmer is largely white and male, Bowens learned there were other black and brown farmers like her who felt equally frustrated and alone in their efforts to grow their own food.

As Bowens dug deeper into all of these issues, she learned food insecurity and farm ownership issues were prevalent not only throughout the African American community but also through the Latin American, Asian American and Native American communities as well.

Agriculture experts attempt to dispel myths, inform public on GMOsUniversity of Wisconsin students, faculty and community members gathered to discuss agriculture’s most controversial topic: genetically modified organisms and crops. Read…

The litany of historical evidence from sharecropping, US tribal land assignments and the USDA’s discrimination of black farmers compelled Bowens to believe the entire food system was suffering from racial inequity.

Even within her D.C. community, Bowens said farmer’s markets were popping up in neighborhoods everywhere but in communities of color.

“The folks that were showing up… to lead the conversation on food access and food security were led by white folks that were not from the community nor often even working with the community members,” Bowens said.

Outsiders who come into communities to “help,” Bowens said, are excluding the community from participating, and those suggested changes will not often take root within the community.

The larger food justice narrative can only be fixed by working together with local communities and building those connections, Bowens said. Making efforts to recognize voices within communities of color will be an essential part of the growing food movement.

“If we want to truly change our food system, we have to do better, we have to fight harder, we have to dig deeper,” Bowens said.

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Categories: Local Media

Go Big Read pick sparks discussion of poverty in America

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:48pm

Community members discussed University of Wisconsin’s Go Big Read pick, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis,” during a book discussion at the Madison Public Library Wednesday.

The memoir by J.D. Vance has ignited conversations on campus about various social issues including poverty and access to resources. Telling a story of Middle-America and struggles faced by those in the Rust Belt, Vance describes his ascent from poverty in Middletown, Ohio to Yale Law School.

Discussion among book club members ranged from criticizing Vance’s depiction of the white, working class to praising him for being a self-made man.

Molly Warren, the discussion leader, started the conversation by asking what will happen to Middle America when industry dries up.

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Laurel Fletcher, Department Administrator at the Nelson Institute, expressed disappointment towards the memoir, claiming it didn’t meet expectations of previous Go Big Read picks.

“I don’t think he had a depth of knowledge, and he seemed to be making a lot of judgments based on small pools of data, rather than someone like the ‘Evicted’ author,” Fletcher said.

“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond was last year’s Go Big Read, and received the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction.

Lisa Mettauer, a retired librarian, agreed with Fletcher’s sentiments. Mettauer claimed Vance’s story made broad generalizations about society.

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In contrast, several discussion participants said Vance provided valuable insight on class, culture and family in Middle America.

According to the New Yorker, Vance has become an unofficial spokesperson for white collar Americans. Discussion participants noted that “Hillbilly Elegy” may have been picked to help explain the political situation in the country.

Further discussion of “Hillbilly Elegy” will continue at the Go Big Read panel facilitated by a group of experts. This conversation is scheduled for Oct. 9 in Shannon Hall.

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Categories: Local Media

Berquam meets with Muslim students to discuss visibility, safety on campus

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:28pm

After receiving a letter from Dean of Students and Vice Provost for Student Life Lori Berquam, Muslim student leaders have pushed for further action from the University of Wisconsin to make their community more visible on campus.

In the letter, Berquam informed the members of the Muslim Student Association of the recent work she has undertaken to improve the experience and visibility of Muslim students on campus.

While more still needs to be done, Razan Aldagher, president of the MSA, described the letter as a “great step in the right direction.”

Aldagher said UW law professor Asifa Quraishi-Landes set up a meeting with the Division of Student Life after the Presidential election last year.

The meeting, Aldagher said, was about the treatment of Muslim students and other minorities on campus after the election. After the election, many Muslim students felt unsafe on campus and the reporting of hate incidents increased.

“Since Trump’s election, we’ve faced a lot of incidents where Muslim women have faced racist comments, hate and bias,” Aldagher said. “Our main goal was to address where to move on from there.”

Students on UW campus wear hijabs for a dayAs a part of Islam Appreciation week, female students across campus became hijabis for the day — stepping into the shoes of Read…

Berquam was eager to meet with Quraishi-Landes and the MSA after their first meeting with the DSL, Aldagher said, because she was “concerned, especially about Muslim students.”

From these discussions, Aldagher said Berquam committed to making real changes for Muslim students on the UW campus, most importantly involving the mental health of Muslim students who have reported hate and bias incidents.

One of the most important outcomes from the initial conversation, Aldagher said, was a commitment by Berquam to hold a meeting with the MSA to make clear what resources are available for students who experience hate or bias incidents.

Aldagher pointed to “Let’s Talk,” a walk-in mental health counseling service within University Health Services, as an example of one of these resources. She said the program is a great way to “divert from the stigma attached to mental health.”

“Lori was really excited, and her goal was to increase visibility of Muslim students on campus,” Aldagher said.

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One way to increase the visibility of Muslim students, Aldagher said, would be to include them in advertising and marketing campaigns on campus.

This means including more women in hijabs, more people of color and more Muslims in marketing and advertising campaigns on campus so all students know Muslim students exist on campus and play a role in decision-making, Aldagher said. 

Increased visibility for Muslim students can also come in the form of additional and more clearly marked prayer and reflection rooms for Muslim students, Aldagher said.

Currently, Aldagher said UW has several “hidden” prayer/reflection rooms for Muslim students around campus, located at Union South, the Multicultural Student Center, Nancy Nicholas Hall and College Library.

Dema Jaber, a Muslim UW student, cited the lack of spaces for Muslim students to pray as a huge issue for the UW administration to rectify with the Muslim student population.

“Something that we Muslims need is a much larger safe space area,” Jaber said. “The amount of prayer areas that we have is not enough.”

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Jaber expressed frustration with the few number of prayer areas, and said the far distances between the prayer areas that do exist make them hard for students to use effectively.

The mosque in Madison is too far for use by students throughout the day, as it lies a half hour away from campus, Jaber said.

“If I walk one block, I’ll find three [Christian] churches,” Jaber said.“When I look at campus overall, we have one mosque and I think that’s very sad to hear.”

While Jaber thanked Aldagher for her efforts in engaging Berquam and the university administration in a discussion about these topics, she also urged Muslim students on campus to continue the conversation and demand actual action from the university.

Aldagher said the meetings between the MSA and the DSL will be continuous, and another meeting will occur in late October.

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Categories: Local Media

Madison law firms receive grant to hire additional immigration attorneys

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 10:42pm

Local law firms received a grant from the Vera Institute of Justice on Tuesday to fund attorneys defending immigration cases.

The Dane County Immigration Coalition announced the Immigrant Justice Clinic at the University of Wisconsin-Law School and the Community Immigration Law Center received the Safe Cities grant.

The grant totaled $100,000, and Dane County was one of 12 locations across the United States to win the grant, according to an article from The Cap Times.

Grant Sovern, president of the board at CILC, said this money will help these local organizations hire more immigration defense attorneys to represent people facing deportation hearings.

“If they don’t have money, they don’t get a lawyer,” Sovern said.

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Before the grant, there was one part-time immigration attorney providing services pro bono, Sovern said. Since deportation hearings are civil matters, defendants don’t get a public defender.

CILC will be able to hire a full-time immigration attorney, with more help from the UW law clinic, Sovern said. The new partnership with Vera will also provide technical assistance, data collection and training for other attorneys.

Vera’s website stated their mission is to urgently build and improve justice systems that ensure fairness, promote safety and strengthen communities.

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According to the executive director of Centro Hispano, Karen Melendez Coller, many immigrants travel to Chicago or Milwaukee for help with their defense.

The Vera grant is one of several pushes by the county to support its immigrant residents, according to The Cap Times.

Sovern said that a defense attorney does not guarantee that the clients will not be deported, but studies have shown that defendants who have a lawyer have a much better chance.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said local leaders do not agree with the actions being taken by the federal government.

“In Dane County we welcome you, we respect you, we stand with you, we’re here to assist you during these challenging times,” Parisi said.

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Categories: Local Media

Sen. Nass criticizes UW for hosting student’s graphic video

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 10:33pm

After Eneale Pickett announced yesterday he was releasing a new line of clothing and a commercial, Senator Steve Nass condemned the University of Wisconsin for hosting Pickett’s video on “UW-Madison Box,” a cloud based drive the University uses.

Pickett’s commercial for his clothing line addresses police brutality with controversial imagery, such as a bloody pig’s head wearing a police hat.

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Nass posted the video on his website with the title “UW Madison Students Police Beheading Video.” Nass condemned Pickett in a statement for posting a video that is “clearly a direct threat to the brave men and women that serve behind the badge.” He described the commercial as “vile,” “racist” and “anti-police.”

Sen. Stephen Nass calls on @UWMadison to take action against @Eneale_Pickett for his controversial video. Read more: https://t.co/WVBe3uqCb5 pic.twitter.com/1kDZcOJsQi

— Alice Vagun (@a_vagoon) September 21, 2017

The video depicts the hanging of black students with a noose made out of an American flag. The commercial also shows eight students wearing Pickett’s clothing while carrying weapons and chasing after two people in pig masks with police hats. The masks are later shown bloodied, as if the heads of the police-like figures had been cut off.  

Nass criticized the University for having the video available on their online platform and said it violates the purely academic intent of the platform.

In the statement, Nass said the video incites violence against police officers and called on the university to take action on the students involved in the video, who he says promote hateful actions.

“UW-Madison must immediately hold these students accountable and that should include an investigation by the local police and the Wisconsin Department of Justice,” Nass said in a press release.

Pickett, however, anticipated criticism on his work and responded with this:

“I anticipate very harsh, very swift criticism directly like, ‘Why are you provoking or inciting violence against police officers and cities’ and all that other foolishness,” Pickett said. “My thing to them is that police officers terrorize black and brown communities everyday. The reason why you would have to critically think, why would someone would create a line like this, why would they have a pigs head dripping with blood, is so I draw emotion out of you.”

This video is the most aggressive artwork Pickett has produced but is also the most truthful because he lets everything out, Pickett said. He wanted to do a commercial so viewers could get the full picture and spark conversation on the corruption in the criminal justice system.

Pickett said he hopes the commercial will spark conversation about the corruption in the criminal justice system.

“Look past the blood on the pig’s head and look deeper inside yourself,” Pickett said. “Because if you feel outrage with the blood on the pig’s head and not Mike Brown laying on the ground for two hours without help, then we need to have a deeper conversation about humanizing black and brown bodies.”

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Categories: Local Media

Campus leaders condemn swastika vandalism near synagogue

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 9:56pm

After vandalism involving swastikas was discovered on a site near a Jewish synagogue, organizations on campus were quick to respond and condemn the act.

The vandalism, which the Madison Police Department said occurred late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, involved paintings of swastikas along with messages that read “TRUMP RULES” and “ANTIFA SUCKS” on a memorial for international volunteers in the 1930s Spanish Civil War.

The memorial lies close to the Gates of Heaven Synagogue, a Jewish place of worship. Due to the anti-Semitic history associated with swastikas and the proximity of the vandalism to a synagogue, the Madison Police Department has kept the Jewish Federation of Madison updated as their investigation of the crime continues.

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Greg Steinberger, a spokesman with the University of Wisconsin Hillel Foundation, said in an email to The Badger Herald that given the approaching Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah the act is “especially painful.” Steinberger said he hopes the community can make efforts to move past this “act of bigotry.”

“We are saddened to learn about this cowardly incident,” Steinberger said. “During these days we, as a community, reflect on who we are, where we have been and where we are headed as all in our community make a commitment to make the world a better place.”

The original Gates of Heaven synagogue, built in 1856, is the eighth oldest synagogue in the United States, Steinberger said.

The Shaarei Shamayim Jewish congregation of Madison, which now uses a different synagogue, still uses the original building to celebrate high holy days, Steinberger said.

“The UW Hillel Foundation has a long history of supporting the community that meets to celebrate the Jewish holidays in that historic space,” Steinberger said.

Steinberger also reaffirmed Hillel’s commitment “to fight hatred, racism and xenophobia.”

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Though President Donald Trump was praised in the vandalism, College Republicans Chairman Jake Lubenow condemned the graffiti, saying that it doesn’t contribute to a “welcoming environment or productive discourse” on campus.

“The College Republicans absolutely condemn vandalism in any respect, even when trying to function as speech,” Lubenow said in an email to The Badger Herald. “Productive discourse is ultimately the goal of our organization and this is not in the slightest bit productive.”

Jewish students have been targeted by both white supremacists on the far-right and Antifa activists on the far- left, and this vandalism perpetuates that “horrific treatment of Jewish students on our campus,” Lubenow said. 

In a joint statement by Associated Students of Madison Chair Katrina Morrison, Equity and Inclusion Chair Alexandra Hader, Vice Chair William Welsh, and Outreach Director Yogev Ben-Yitschak, ASM called the vandalism “deeply disturbing.”

“The Associated Students of Madison stands in strong opposition to such discrimination, and asks that students, staff, faculty, and other campus units alike stand up against bigotry,” ASM said. “Intimidation directed at specific communities is wholly unacceptable. We must be united, and we must hold true the values of equity and inclusion for all.”

Shortly after its discovery, the vandalism was removed from the site.

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Categories: Local Media

Rep. Hintz becomes Wisconsin’s new Democratic Assembly minority leader

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 6:00pm

Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, replaced Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, as Wisconsin’s Democratic Assembly Minority Leader Tuesday.

In a statement, Hintz, a member of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee, urged his party members to unite against “harmful policies” of the Republican party and Governor Scott Walker.

“Assembly Democrats have a tremendous opportunity to lead,” Hintz said. “With my colleagues’ support, we will tackle the challenges ahead and move forward as a unified caucus. What I can promise is responsive leadership that is unafraid to make the tough decisions.”

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Barca, who served as minority leader for the past seven years, congratulated Hintz in a statement and said he is looking forward to working with Hintz to expose Walker’s “misaligned priorities” and build a better economy.

A member of the State Assembly since 2006, Hintz has been an outspoken critic of Walker and the Republican Legislature’s resolution to road funding, K-12 education and tax policy.

Hintz has been criticized by Republicans for a 2011 citation he received at a massage parlor in Appleton, Wisconsin for sexual misconduct, according to a press release by the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Hintz also yelled at former Rep. Michelle Litjens, R-Winneconne, “you’re f—ing dead” during a debate over Walker’s collective bargaining measure known as Act 10.

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In a statement, Alec Zimmerman, spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said Wisconsin Democrats are in disarray.

“Wisconsin Democrats are not only standing against family-supporting jobs but letting Gordon Hintz bring his personal war on women to the leadership of their caucus,” Zimmerman said. “Wisconsin families can’t trust that Hintz even respects them, let alone that he’ll fight for them.”

Hintz acknowledged the incidents on Tuesday and apologized for his past actions, emphasizing that he never stopped doing his job, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

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But Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, expressed support for having Hintz as the Assembly minority leader, in a statement.

“I look forward to working with Rep. Hintz as we look to expand economic opportunities, invest in local communities and create a level playing for everyone in Wisconsin,” Shilling said.

Hintz begins his new position Oct. 1.

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Swastika graffiti discovered near synagogue

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:22am

A memorial close to the Gates of Heaven Synagogue was vandalized with swastikas early Wednesday morning.

The memorial, dedicated to the international volunteers who fought in the 1930s Spanish Civil War, lies in the 300 block of East Gorham Street, close to the Gates of Heaven Synagogue.

Photo courtesy of Madison Police Department

The vandalism was discovered around 8:30 Wednesday morning. The crime is believed to have been committed in the late hours of Tuesday night or early hours of Wednesday morning.

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According to a Madison Police Department incident report, the words “TRUMP RULES” and “ANTIFA SUCKS” were painted in red on the memorial. Several swastikas were seen on the side of the memorial as well, which is shaped in the form of a large rock.

Because of the proximity to the Gates of Heaven Synagogue and the anti-Semitic history associated with swastikas, MPD is sharing information on this case with the Jewish Federation of Madison.

The graffiti has already been removed from the monument, according to the Cap Times.

The swastikas and "Trump Rules" graffiti have already been removed from a monument at James Madison Park near Gates of Heaven synagogue. pic.twitter.com/bbNE7PzTBv

— The Capital Times (@CapTimes) September 20, 2017

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City Council discusses programs to serve marginalized communities in Madison

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:53pm

A City Council meeting was hosted at Madison Municipal Court Tuesday night to focus on homelessness and civil rights in Madison.

Ald. Samba Baldeh, District 17, addressed the general body and started the meeting by calling through the items on the agenda.

Two public hearings were presented to the council members on two separate plans, focusing on resources for translation services and homelessness in Madison.

The Language Access Plan was presented by Department of Civil Rights Director Norman Davis, Contract Compliance Specialist Kate McCarthy and Affirmative Action Specialist Kristen Vanderscheuren. This plan aims to provide residents and visitors of Madison with both written and oral translation services.

“We want to recognize all individuals, as they should be able to access all the services this city can offer,” Davis said.

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Based on the focus groups and a staff survey which reached 500 participants, the Department of Civil Rights concluded the top four languages in Madison after English are Spanish, Hmong, Chinese and ASL.

McCarthy suggested the city should offer a 24-hour service line offering multiple language options and translation for important legal documents.

“More importantly, the city should increase the access to multilingual emergency responders,” McCarthy said.

The speakers, however, believe the funding for the LAP program is inadequate. The council agreed, and the Department of Social Justice will request an increase in funding from Mayor Paul Soglin.

Linette Rhodes, the grants administrator from the Community Development Block Grant, addressed chronic homelessness within Madison and Dane County. She presented the council with data demonstrating the decreasing number of veterans who are homeless, the chronically homeless and homeless families from 2016 to 2017.

“We aim to engage individuals who are experiencing homelessness or are formerly homeless, the officials, housing and service providers, advocates, landlords, developers and funders,” Rhodes said.

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Rhodes shared with the council strategies to end veteran homelessness such as diverting veterans from the homeless system, implementing bridge housing systems, coordinating efficient services and maintaining stakeholder engagement. The council responded to the report with applause.

The council adjourned after a few more hearings regarding sustainable energy, sidewalk conditions, possible park facilities improvement and the nonprofit art program “CommUNITY Arts.” The council will reconvene next on Oct. 3.

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UW speaker discusses complex role of millennials in national politics

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:27pm

The Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education hosted a lecture featuring a University of Wisconsin alum on Tuesday on the topic of how public universities and students can help restore the governing system, through civic engagement and active involvement in the community.

The talk was led by UW alum Steven Olikara, the founder and president of the Millennial Action Project, which focuses on overcoming partisan gridlock in the government by empowering millennial policymakers.

One of Olikara’s main points was the role institutions of higher education play in impacting the millennial generation.

“The most important thing is that colleges and universities are training the next generation of leaders,” Olikara said. “This is a living laboratory for leadership.”

Olikara said these institutions should create spaces to model constructive civil discourse, such as public forums held on campus and political debates within the student government.

College campuses are centers for public discourse where people can argue ideas in a constructive manner by voicing their own opinions while listening to contrasting views, said Olikara.

“It’s very important that we have a variety of views represented on campus… When you hear another viewpoint, you are sharpening your own view,” Olikara said.

Another key point of the lecture centered on the impact of the media in politics. Olikara said media allows more individuals to participate in civic engagement in less time, because technology accelerates the pace of change.

Olikara believes social media allows people to communicate and crowdsource ideas, but that it may also lead to an echo chamber of rigid or biased beliefs.

“It’s hard to receive the truth today because everything seems to have a slant or a bias,” Olikara said.

Olikara also discussed the rise of millennial independence in today’s political atmosphere. Young people now have an “a la carte” view of politics, meaning they pick and choose ideas irrespective of party lines.

During a tumultuous moment in U.S. government, Olikara believes millennials are disaffiliating themselves from major political parties and seeking an alternative.

“No affiliation is now the fastest growing political affiliation,” said Olikara.

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ASM passes legislation encouraging widespread e-textbook usage

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 10:41pm

Associated Students of Madison passed legislation Tuesday evening in a 21-0-2 vote, encouraging an online textbook pilot program to reduce the cost of textbooks for University of Wisconsin students. The pilot program would ensure that all professors provide an online option for the textbook required for their course. 

The legislation hopes to reduce the financial burden of purchasing textbooks, ASM said in a news release. Projected potential savings are between 60 and 80 percent per textbook. Each e-textbook will be available to students via Canvas.

ASM hopes to have textbooks billed in tuition through the Bursar’s office so financial aid can apply, the news release said. 

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“Be it resolved that the Associated Students of Madison Student Council encourages students and faculty to support the online textbook pilot program,” the official legislation read.

Representative Denzel Bibbs voiced concerns that the mere adoption of this legislation was too lenient. Instead, he posed to Representative Alex Hader the possibility of making it a requirement.

“This whole piece of legislation came about after our discussion with Steve Cramer, the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, and he’s completely on board with making this a requirement for professors,” Hader said. “We changed the wording to ‘encouraged’ because of academic freedom.”

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Despite this e-textbook initiative, hard copies of the books in question will still be available as they currently are at the University Bookstore. Additionally, through the new pilot program, students may request printed copies of the textbooks for $10 in case their classes have a no-devices policy.

Another section of this legislation mandates that professors must alert students of course material cost before class registration opens. 

ASM is hoping to work with the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning’s office to pilot the online textbook initiative for spring semester of 2018.

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Dane County teams with national initiative to support immigrants, provide legal counsel

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 10:30pm

Madison officials and the Dane County Immigration Coalition convened in Madison City Hall on Tuesday morning to announce the award of a $100,000 grant from — and partnership with — the Vera Institute of Justice, to better assist immigrants.

The coalition wants to provide immigrants with better access to legal resources, especially for immigrants who fear deportation, through a plan called the Immigrant Assistant Fund. They reiterated on Tuesday that immigrant communities are vital in uniting the Madison community.

“Let us not forget, we need them as much as they need us,” Parisi said.

The grant is a part of a greater national initiative run by the Vera Institute of Justice called the Safety and Fairness for Everyone cities network. SAFE strives to offer legal representation for immigrants threatened by deportation.

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Dane County officials discussed the importance of being a unified community, especially in times of increasing hostility towards the immigrant community.

“[We are] one community made up of many. While we are diverse, we are also one,” Parisi said.

The officials hope that by increasing funding for immigration programs in the area, the quality of life for immigrant populations will be improved.

Both Dane County and the Immigration Coalition believe even if an immigrant must be deported, they deserve fair legal representation while residing in the U.S. If granted permission by the U.S. government to stay, Dane County and the Immigration Coalition want to help immigrants gain citizenship and avoid discrimination.

“We are sending a clear message that we care about our immigrant community and that we stand with them not only in word, but in deed,” Parisi said.

The $100,000 grant will be given to the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Immigration Justice Clinic and the Madison Community Immigration Law Center, who will together provide immigrants with vital legal advice and representation so their future and legal decisions are under their control. Dane County was one of only twelve jurisdictions nationwide to receive the grant.

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Other community members showed up to the meeting to show their support including executive director of Centro Hispano, Karen Menendez Coller, who voiced her support for the immigration grant.

“What will be most important to us today and always is that our families are protected,” Coller said.

The funding is scheduled to arrive from the Vera Institute of Justice by next month. Private donors are encouraged to donate at www.madisongives.org/immigrantassistance.

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Charlie Sykes meets with students, faculty to discuss journalism, conservatism

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 9:46pm

Charlie Sykes hosted a meet-and-greet for students Tuesday at Vilas Hall, and answered questions for students regarding his spectrum of experience in the media industry, and providing political and journalistic insight.

Sykes began his career by writing for his weekly college newspaper, and was later hired by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The New York Times and other major publications.

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Sykes is well-known for his role as a conservative talk show host on WTMJ, a Milwaukee radio station, a role which he left in 2016.

A common misconception is that his departure was due to his anti-Trump rhetoric, Sykes said. In reality, he decided to leave because his “true passion” is being author.

Despite being on the other side of the political spectrum, some Democrats and those in the left wing camp have used his stances against Trump to help push their messages. One student asked if Sykes believes this method has been used by the Democrats to enhance their message. In response, Sykes said the media often makes his opinions and statements much bigger than what they are intended to be.

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While journalism professors often emphasize the importance of being unbiased, University of Wisconsin journalism student Gia Dinon asked Sykes how he built his career from his opinions.

Sykes said while he offers his personal point of view, it’s important to him to include facts for the audience to form their own educated opinions. A level of professionalism is also necessary.

The media often influences the opinions of the public, Sykes said. The media provides so much information in a short period of time that it’s difficult for an audience, who “picks and chooses what to believe and stop caring about the truth,” to organize their thoughts.

On the subject of Wisconsin, Sykes said he no longer considers Wisconsin a “fly-over” state because of it’s important role in politics in D.C.

“We have one of the most liberal U.S. senators, Tammy Baldwin, and one of the most conservative U.S. senators, Ron Johnson — which of them represents who we really are?” asked Sykes. “I don’t know. We’ll find out.”

Sykes discussed his passion for writing and is now focusing on finishing his 10th book, “How the Right Lost Its Mind,” which will be released on Oct. 3.

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UW experiences campus-wide intermittent wireless internet outages

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 9:21pm

The University of Wisconsin campus has been experiencing intermittent campus-wide outages of the wireless internet system for the past week.

The source of the outage was a random connectivity issue, according to the Division of Information Technology’s outages information updates. The most affected places are buildings with classrooms during high traffic times of the day.

Residential areas were affected first, with an initial report on Sep. 7 at 12:30 p.m.

“Many users in Chadbourne and Witte Halls have been reporting wireless connection issues, either inability to connect or connection drops. Techs are looking into it,” the website said.

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The issues in the residential areas were later connected to a campus-wide issue.

The initial report on the campus-wide outage was made on Sep. 11 at 10:00 a.m. stating almost every building on campus had issues connecting to the internet.

On Sep. 14 at 5:00 p.m., an update stated the wireless connectivity problem had been solved and systems were “fully operational.” On Sep. 15 at 11:20 a.m., there had been continuing issues with the internet, according to the DOiT website statement.

Throughout the week, updates were posted on the DOiT website as UW network engineers worked with the internet vendor to solve the problem. On Tuesday morning, technologists took the first step in addressing the issue.

“DoIT Technologists installed new code for the UWNet and Eduroam Wireless Services at 5:00 A.M. [Tuesday] morning as the first step to addressing the Campus Wireless issues,” the website said.

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Students and faculty have been experiencing frustration in classes during the first week.

The first couple weeks of classes are a stressful time for students because they’re just getting back into the flow of things, UW sophomore Katie Jakubowski said. “We shouldn’t have to worry about accessing online materials in class.”

“I have to go all the way back to my apartment in between classes just so I can get some homework done,” Jakubowski said. “In lectures, professors aren’t able to access some of the materials they need, like online videos, and it can be distracting during class.”

The issue is still considered “ongoing,” and DOiT is continuing to work toward fixing the outage, according to their website.

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Wisconsin resubmits school improvement plan for K-12 public schools

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 8:11pm

The state of Wisconsin submitted a revised school improvement plan on Monday to the Trump Administration.

State Superintendent Tony Evers said in a statement he wrote the plan after consulting with teachers, parents, school districts and Gov. Scott Walker’s office.

Wisconsin’s plan called for the state to increase graduation rates, improve teacher effectiveness and lower the achievement gap between minority and white students.

“It will increase accountability in our schools and maps out a real plan to increase graduation rates and improve proficiency in literacy and math,” Evers said in the statement.

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind, each state is required to submit an accountability plan in order to continue receiving federal funding for their K-12 public schools.

Under the ESSA, states receive more flexibility in deciding how they want to reach certain goals, address failing schools and provide necessary support. The law also requires states submit data on graduation rates and student achievement.

Walker, however, did not sign the draft ESSA plan because it did “little to challenge the status quo for the benefit of Wisconsin’s students,” he said in a September letter to Evers.

In the letter, Walker urged Evers to submit a proposal that included “bold reforms” similar to what other states had proposed.

“We urge you to take this opportunity to make Wisconsin a reform leader yet again and resubmit a new proposal that allows our schools to innovate and students to succeed,” Walker said.

Evers, who is also running for governor in 2018, said in a statement that Walker is putting his re-election campaign before the students of Wisconsin.

“What’s particularly sad is that now he put his reelection campaign before Wisconsin’s kids and if there’s one thing we should be able to agree on, it’s putting our kids first,” Evers said.

The final plan submitted Monday was similar to the initial draft, but included changes as to how the lowest-performing schools will be identified and addressed, according to U.S. News.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has four months to approve or reject the plan.

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UW student prepares to release latest clothing line confronting police brutality, racism

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 6:02pm

After creating a national uproar over his controversial “All White People Are Racist” hoodie, University of Wisconsin junior Eneale Pickett is debuting a new line of merchandise alongside a short commercial at the end of this week addressing police brutality. 

A First Wave scholar from Chicago studying elementary education, Pickett is centering his new line of clothing around the criminal justice system in America.

Well known for the controversial messages depicted in Pickett’s October 2016 line, which included hoodies and crewnecks reading “If I Encounter Another Cop with a God Complex I’m Going to Have to Show the World That They Are Human” and “All White People Are Racist,” Pickett was motivated after President Donald Trump’s response to the white supremacy rally in Charlottesville to address the recent rise of the KKK.

Nolan Ferlic/The Badger Herald

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More broadly, Pickett intends to spark a conversation about the disproportionate targeting of black and brown bodies by the police.

“This line is by far the most aggressive, it’s by far the most in your face. And it’s by far my most truthful line,” Pickett said. “I say truthful because I let everything out. I knew I needed more media this time — and not just photos, but a commercial, so people can see the full picture.”

Along with a new line of clothing, Pickett is also releasing a commercial on police brutality which was filmed, produced and casted by fellow UW students. The inspiration for the nearly two minute video came to him through a dream three months ago, and he has been working on it since then.

Pickett is expecting harsh and swift criticism as a result of the vivid imagery used in the commercial, but is determined to bring to light how “the police terrorizes black and brown bodies communities.”

Nolan Ferlic/The Badger Herald

“Once you add a visual that’s so daring, so intense, it forces you to talk and to say something. Now I have to give attention to this issue because [offending police], to them, is unacceptable. But my body all over social media, dead, is acceptable,” he said.

Last October, Pickett received death threats from across the nation after adding the “All White People Are Racist” hoodie to his line, Insert Apparel. Shortly after making his merchandise available via Etsy, the site removed his postings in response to several users reporting the page.

Police brutality has been a major subject in the city of Madison, particularly following the fatal police shooting of Tony Robinson in March 2015. A few of the pieces in Eneale’s new line feature hashtags as major design elements.

“The reason why I chose students [to act in the commercial] is because the majority of people seen in the media dying by the hands of police officers are young people,” Pickett said. “The reason why some hashtags [on the clothing] might not be fully formed, or are lopsided is because hashtags form so quickly that one cannot fully form before you’re onto the next one already. And you completely forget about the person you saw last week.”

Pickett emphasizes that his goal is not to change minds, but rather force people to have important conversations about institutional racism and white privilege. Still, he anticipates backlash from the university administration and others who he believes will misunderstand his message.

We’re not affiliated with this apparel, nor do we endorse the message.

— UW-Madison (@UWMadison) October 7, 2016

The line includes two hoodies and three crewnecks, which include the following phrases:

  • “Fuck the police, they the biggest gang in AmeriKKKa”
  • “I would ask for justice but I know she’s helping the cops burn my body”
  • “No hashtag can ever bring me justice, I’ve seen my death way too many times to imagine myself different”
  • “Destroy the city that caused you to bury me”
  • “Justice over there acting like she don’t know us knowing damn well she hear us calling her name”

Courtesy of Eneale Pickett

Pickett hopes through his commercial and clothing, people will analyze the criminal justice system and the systemic oppression that black communities and other communities of color face.

“I don’t make my art for you to love me. I make my art so you can critically think. One thing you are doing now is talking about police, and the corruption in the police force, whether you like it or not,” Pickett said. “You’re defending the corruption or you’re against the corruption. But you’re still talking about it regardless.”

Pickett plans to release his full commercial at 1 p.m Friday, alongside the clothing line, which will be available at insertapparel.com.

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School of Education launches new program aimed at fostering productive discussion

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 10:00am

As a part of the University of Wisconsin’s commitment to create a welcoming campus climate, the School of Education developed a program to train faculty on engaging in productive discussion with students and creating a more inclusive learning environment.

The new program, called “The Discussion Project,” was first revealed in the fall campus climate report by Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

Dr. Paula McAvoy, the director of The Discussion Project, said the initiative was created with the understanding that students learn better when there is a sense of community in the classroom.

“Research on classroom discussion shows that students who experience high-quality discussion feel more engaged in classes and feel more connected to their learning and to the university,” McAvoy said.

Although it is important to foster discussion, McAvoy said instructors often do not get necessary training to lead a successful conversation. Providing this training is one of the main goals in The Discussion Project, said McAvoy.

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The program is particularly necessary, McAvoy said, because students miss out on important conversations if they only experience a conventional, lecture-style education.

“If students simply sit shoulder-to-shoulder in lecture halls taking notes, students miss the opportunity to learn about the experiences of others,” McAvoy said. “A classroom is also an important place to learn how to consider other points of view, build upon the ideas of others and to respectfully disagree.”

In 2016, McAvoy said the School of Education applied for funding from UW to launch the program. In January, faculty started developing the program, and with the help of a handful of graduate students and faculty members from the School of Education, the program was piloted this summer.

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The Discussion Project, which was included in Blank’s campus climate report, is “part of the university’s commitment to creating a more inclusive campus,” said McAvoy.

“Chancellor Blank is highlighting The Discussion Project in the university’s current campus climate progress report because of the contribution it is making to helping UW-Madison become a more welcoming environment for all students,” said UW Communications spokeswoman Meredith McGlone.

In that report, Blank brought several other initiatives aimed at inclusivity and campus climate improvement to attention, including the “Our Wisconsin” program with the Division of Student Life and the creation of the Diversity Inventory Project, an online database of all of UW’s diversity-based programs.

Additionally, Blank highlighted the first ever campus climate survey, which was sent out to all enrolled students at UW last year.

“Becoming a more welcoming and inclusive campus requires long-term engagement in a process of self-evaluation and change,” Blank said in the report.

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In conjunction with the Learning through Evaluation, Adaptation and Dissemination Center on campus, McAvoy said the School of Education will continuously evaluate the program as it progresses through the following semesters.

The Discussion Project hopes to convey to participants both the importance of discussion and efficient methods in facilitating productive conversations in a confident manner, McAvoy said.

“The main goals are to improve participants’ understanding of why discussion is important, teach them some basic principles for leading and evaluating discussion, and help them feel more confident facilitating discussion,” McAvoy said.

The Discussion Projects’s first cohort met in August of this year, signaling the official launch of the program on campus. The second cohort is set to meet at the start of the spring semester.

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