10 Ways the Multicultural Student Center Can Support Your Student Org

MSC Student Life Intern, Eric

Being part of a Student Organization can be one of the most meaningful experiences for students on campus. Student orgs are a wonderful place to make friends and professional connections. Whether you are a general member of a student org or serve in an administrative role chances are that you sometimes feel like you need a little extra help. Luckily, that’s where we can come in.

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Here are some ways the MSC can help your Student Org

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#uwvoices #aboutraceuw #blacklivesmatter Workshop on Feb. 26th

Image via the Badger Herald

Image via the Badger Herald

As momentum builds across the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have seen an increase in student action and dialogue here in Madison. The Eric Garner verdict brought a vigil at the Kohl Center, hundreds of students marched to College Library in December and community members gathered in January with UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank to engage in dialogue. As more and more people find their place in the movement and wish to stand in solidarity, there are many asking what can I do or how can I do more?

The Multicultural Student Center social justice education team will host an interactive workshop on February 26th at 5:30 in the Multicultural Student Center to continue conversations around #blacklivesmatter, #aboutraceuw, and #uwvoices with an emphasis on strengthening the student movement for racial justice at UW Madison and continuing the momentum for taking action.

Participants will break into race-alike caucus groups to discuss how their personal identities impact their experience of the movement and will explore tactics for effectively standing in solidarity with other people fighting for racial justice. After the breakout sessions, participants will come back together for a group dialogue and an opportunity to make community commitments.

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This event will be co-facilitated by the professional social justice educators on staff at the Multicultural Student Center. Their team collectively holds a wealth of knowledge on community organizing, allyship development across race, and social justice principles that they will share in an effort to raise up student efforts and strengthen student’s capacity to make a strong impact on the UW-Madison community.

The event will be a chance for students to strategize with their peers and connect with their supporters and allies. All are welcome. Please contact MSC Associate Director Alice Traore at alice.traore@wisc.edu or 608-265-2513 for more information or to request accommodations. Click here for more information.

Black Girls in Education

MSC Student Life Intern, Cheyenne

From the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to increased discourse about the criminalization of Black boys it is safe to say that conversations about African-American males in the school system have been abundantly abuzz. However, the unique challenges that Black girls face in America’s school system are often subsumed by those of their male counterparts, leaving their needs unattended to. Although it is assumed that girls generally fare better than boys in school, much of the data that supports this fact fails to dis-aggregate data by race, which would reveal that African-American females are actually doing worse than the national average for girls on almost every scale of scholastic achievement.


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In response to the persistent underachievement of African-American girls, groups such as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Women’s Law Center, and the African-American Policy Forum have released reports that comprehensively demonstrate how the gendered racism, combined with poor school resources cause Black girls to experience higher disciplinary, suspension and expulsion rates than any of their other female counterparts. The release of such data has shed light on how America’s educational system has historically underserved Black girls and has emphasized the importance of policymakers, educators, and school administrators paying attention to girls of color.


Stereotypes and Discipline

Similar to Black boys, Black girls have also suffered the burden of negative stereotypes that cast them as aggressive, angry, promiscuous, and hyper-sexualized. Despite statistics that show that African-American girls tend to have higher self-esteems than their White counterparts, the racialized and gendered perceptions that their teachers may use to analyze and understand their behavior in the classroom can negatively impact their educational experiences and cause them to feel less committed to continuing their academic journeys in the future. Oftentimes disciplined for behavior that does not conform to white middle-class norms of femininity, the dispositions and attitudes of Black girls that may demonstrate academic engagement and excitement are instead coded as “disruptive” behavior, thus showing how the educational potential of Black girls is often limited due to their failure to conform to the norms of the dominant culture. Thus, Black girls face a “Catch 22” situation in which in they are either unnecessarily disciplined for being “too assertive” or forced to conform to Eurocentric standards of girlhood that encourage passivity and quietness and therefore deprive themselves of educational opportunities.

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Black Girls and Leadership

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Despite the fact Black girls are more likely to consider themselves leaders, express a desire to be leaders, and already have leadership experience in comparison to their White counterparts, America’s public school system seems to present scarce opportunities for Black girls to hone their leadership skills, with only 12% of 12th grade African-American girls reporting “considerable” or “significant” participation in student government according to the report created by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and National Women’s Law Center.

Although Black women and girls have been on the forefront of movements to fight against racial inequality in public schools, organizations and initiatives designed to foster the leadership and self-confidence of Black girls are scarce in America’s public schools and may further reinforce the academic struggles of African-American girls along with long-held stereotypes.

Black Girls and Educational Disparity

Untitled1 Despite the groundbreaking ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education that deemed the “separate but equal” doctrine unconstitutional in the racial segregation of schools, African-American students are still enrolled in schools lacking adequate resources, qualified teachers, college-prep classes, and diverse extra-curricular activities at higher rates then their white counterparts. Data shows that the access and retainment of these resources are key to student success and although statistics on the impact of school disparities on students is not dis-aggregated by gender, school resources (or the lack of) serves as an important factor in considering the status of Black girls in education. In comparison to their peers from other racial and ethic groups, both African-American boys and girls are more likely to attend racially-isolated, high-poverty schools which are socioeconomically isolated and have a lower proportion of highly-qualified teachers. These disparities begin as early as pre-school, thus showing how the academic inequalities Black students face to be cumulative.


Although Black students may share some similar challenges in education, recent data and statistics clearly demonstrate that African-American females face very unique situations in public schools distinctly separate from their male counterparts. If policymakers and educators are serious about increasing the academic achievement of Black students, they must be willing to challenge and take into account societal norms that marginalize the life opportunities of Black females in order to truly increase the effectiveness of public school education.

Honoring Muslim Lives at UW Madison

Students gathered in the Multicultural Student Center Lounge in the Red Gym last week to discuss the recent shooting of 3 Muslim students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as well as the implications of this event on the UW-Madison campus. The event, hosted by the University of Wisconsin’s Muslim Student Association, served as an opportunity to discuss the the media coverage of this event as well as the daily realities of potential misconceptions or fear of discrimination that Muslim students face on campus.

Image via the Badger Herald

Image via the Badger Herald

Students who identify as Muslim were joined by allies and supporters who attended in solidarity. The gathering allowed students to voice their personal experiences, particularly around what it is like to feel isolated on campus due to their religious identity, stereotypes and misperceptions of their culture. Due to biased media coverage, a growing anti-Muslim sentiment across the US, and a general lack of knowledge or awareness about Islam students on campus may face harrasment or discrimination because of their faith practices.

Assistant Dean and Director of the Multicutural Student Center, Joshua Moon Johnson, was present at the event to hear and attend to the needs of the MSC community. The diverse group voiced a collective appreciation for the space to dialogue in community and left the room with a wide array of emotions. Johnson encouraged students to report any incidents of hate or bias that may occur on campus to the hate and bias incident reporting form to the Dean of Students Office. According to a statement from Dean Lori Berquam:

“A bias incident is an intentional threat or act of harassment or intimidation — verbal, written or physical — that targets a member of the UW community or the general public because of an actual or perceived characteristic of that person. (Expression of an idea or opinion that a person finds offensive does not, per se, constitute an act of bias.) To read the full policy on bias incidents, click here.

From research and personal interactions, the university recognizes that many incidents, large and small, can go unreported. Someone who experiences or witnesses an incident may feel uncomfortable discussing it — or even feel that doing so may threaten their safety. Even if an act itself is unintentional, it can negatively affect others — regardless of whether those others were the intended audience.”

If you have witnessed or experienced a bias-related incident, you can either submit a form electronically to the Dean of Students Office, or you may report an incident in person (click here for a list of office locations). You can come in person to 75 Bascom Hall and ask to speak with the on-call dean, or call 608-263-5700 to make an appointment.

To learn more about MSA or the experience of Muslim students on campus, we recommend attending one of the many informative and amazing events hosted by MSA on campus. “The Muslim Students Association is a cultural, social, educational, and religious organization dedicated to learning, activism, and spirituality on campus. MSA is open to all UW and Madison community members. This organization provides you with a great environment to meet Muslims, learn from renowned lecturers, and practice Islam as freely as possible. The MSA holds numerous events every semester that range from socials, to volunteering opportunities, speaker events, interfaith dialogue, and many, many more.”

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ABOVE: Students pose following an event hosted by MSA. Click on the image to read about the Fast-A-Thon, an annual event held by the Muslim Students Association (MSA), that allows students of different backgrounds to come together to celebrate the culture of fasting in Islam.

02/12: Disability, Healing & Transformative Justice

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On Thursday, February 12th the Multicultural Student Center invites activist Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha for a day of personal expression, healing and inspiration.

3PM Workshop, MSC Classroom
Participants will write under-told, boundary-pushing, life saving stories from their bodies’ fierce wisdom and resilience, to create the deeply necessary stories we need to share the truths of how we’re keeping on living and the amazing lives we’re making. Space is limited! Secure your spot at msc.wisc.edu/register

7PM Performance & Talk-Back, MSC Lounge
Leah will share performance about queer femme of color survivorhood, transformative justice, and disability justice movement and radical healing.

Contact Chelsea O’Neil at chelsea.oneil@wisc.edu
for more information or to request accomodations.

Born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, Leah is a graduate of the Eugene Lang College of the New School for Liberal Arts in New York City in 1997. Since 1998, Leah has performed spoken word throughout the United States, Canada, and Sri Lanka. In 2001, Leah founded browngirlworld in order to facilitate a safe poetry and performance space for queer and trans* people of color. Although the event was originally weekly, it soon became a larger biannual poetry festival that welcomed various artists to Toronto in collaboration with the Toronto Women’s Bookstore. In 2004, Leah began her teaching career as a writing instructor to queer, trans, and Two Spirit youth at Toronto’s Supporting our Youth Pink Ink program. That same year, she also co-founded the Asian Arts Freedom School with Gein Wong, another spoken word poet.


  Asian Arts Freedom School Promo

Two years later, Leah wrote and performed her first one-woman show titled Grown Woman Show and later that year, along with Cherry Galette, founded Mangos With Chili, a Bay-Area based performance cabaret that showcases the performance art of queer and trans people of color throughout North America. Since it’s founding, Mangos With Chilli has spotlighted the work of over 150 queer and trans* artists of color.

She entered into the world of publishing with a poetry book titled Consensual Genocide in 2006, a work that chronicled her experiences as a queer diasporic South-Asian woman confronting mixed racial identity journeys, childhood abuse, and femme rebellions. In 2012, Love Cake, one of her poetry collections, received the Lambda Literary Award, which recognizes and honors the best lesbian,gay, bisexual, and transgender books of the year. Her work has been published in many anthologies including Dear Sister, Letters Lived, Undoing Border Imperialism, Stay Solid, Persistence: Still Butch and Femme, Yes Means Yes, Visible: A Femmethology, Homelands, Colonize This , We Don’t Need Another Wave, Bitchfest, Without a Nest, Dangerous Families, Brazen Femme, Femme and a Girl’s Guide to Taking Over the World.

In 2010, Leah was named was named as one of the Feminist Press’ 40 under 40 Shaping the Future and is also a member of the 2013 Autostraddle Top 105. In 2014, she successfully organized the Healing Justice for Black Lives Matter initiative, raising $28,000. This year, she plans to release another book of poetry titled Bodymap and her first memoir Dirty River.

Manikin: Play written & directed by UW Student and First Wave Scholar Natalie Cook

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February 1, 2015

4PM at the Play Circle Theater

“MANIKIN” is a play written and directed by UW-Madison Senior and First Wave Scholar, Natalie Cook. The play explores gender relations between black men and black women living in modern day America.

Starring Hiwot Adilow, Amani Breanna Alexander, Jahleigh Bullie, Obasi Davis, Eddie Ukoeninn, and Janetta Hill

Featuring a performance by The Bellhops

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