Shouting Out Significance: On What Matters at UW-Madison

By MSC Student Life Intern, Hiwot

Like so many places at UW-Madison, the Kohl Center holds a special type of significance. It is a place where Badgers of all walks of life come together. Each August the new class fills the stadium for convocation. Here, new students are welcomed to UW in a place that serves as a point of pride for Badgers around the world.

Sports play a huge role in the culture of UW-Madison, whether we’re reveling in a victory or mourning a loss, like the one that pulled us out of the Final Four.

from Madison.com; UW’s loss to Duke

The Kohl Center has also been a gathering place for people experiencing loss off of the basketball court. In December, more than 300 people had silently and peacefully gathered after news of the non-indictment of officer Daniel Panteleo, the NYPD cop responsible for the July 2014 choking death of Eric Garner.

That same freezing December night, the inside of the Kohl Center was flooded with Wisconsin Red. Students, parents, and fans gathered to support the team in its game against Duke University. The mourning crowd had been met by a different set of reactions as folks exited the stadium. While some heckled those standing in silent solidarity, scoffing at the signs that read #BlackLivesMatter, others signaled their support, raising their hands and even saying “thank you” to the protesters.

One of the most powerful moments of the evening was when someone walked straight from the doors of the Kohl Center into the crowd, joining the protesters in solidarity. I wonder, what would’ve happened if more people had joined? So often issues of racism and concerns with justice are silenced and minimized, preventing people from creating a socially just world where we can all be seen, valued, and honored. One heckler expressed this sad fact best by saying, “This is America…if you don’t like it, leave.”

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Those few people who did cheer on the protesters after cheering for the Badgers proved that though this campus can be divided, it doesn’t need to be. This is a place that should belong to us all. Why not wear Wisconsin red while holding a sign that asks Whose Blood is On Our Streets? Yelling “Go Badgers!” is something we’re all expected to do but the declaration that Black Lives Matter is met with disinterest, even disbelief. What would happen if the two were seen as mutually acceptable? When students are worried about their finals AND racial issues at the University, do they lose their right to be a Badger?

click image to read more about #blacklivesmatter on campus

Photo by Nate Moll. Click image to read more about #blacklivesmatter on campus

This is to say that it should be possible for someone to be a Badger, a person of color, a sports fan, a scholar, an activist, and any and everything else that makes them who they are. What would campus be like if we were able to openly call out microaggressions the same way we call out fouls in sports?

Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students Lori Berquam was one of those silent supporters on that cold December Night. In a piece in the Wisconsin State Journal Berquam wrote that, in spite of the cruel and racist remarks aimed at the vigil, students maintained a level of “dignity and grace.” Berquam went on to say that they “clearly displayed the values this university holds dear.” She lauded students for organizing the protest, noting that “our students are scholars, they are problem-solvers, and they connect their passion with their purpose.”


This has been a trying year in regards to police brutality and race relations all around the U.S. and with the local death of Tony Robinson it is clear that Madison, Wisconsin is not bereft of these complicated truths. Through it all, students of color and allies alike have studied and come to class, and many will be graduating in a little over a week. Throughout this basketball season it has been clear that the highly successful team is a cornerstone of UW-Madison. There is no question that those athletes “matter.” Here’s to the hope that all badgers—on and off the court—can be seen, valued, and kept safe as we pursue degrees and strive to live full and free lives.

 Congrats to the Class of 2015

#BlackLivesMatter

The Benefits of Taking up a Leadership Position in a Student Org

by MSC Student Life intern, Maikoau


Many students walk into college not expecting to get involved in student organizations. Of those that do get involved, only few take up an executive board, or e-board, position within their org. Of course, with this responsibility comes dedication and time commitment but it is definitely worth it. Whether you are involved in a student organization or Greek organization, you can make a difference within your org and on campus just by contributing your time and dedication.

Here is a list of benefits from holding an E-board position within your organization.

  1. Sense of self/belonging

Being involved in an organization helps you find your place on campus. Because our campus is so huge, it is often difficult for students to find where they fit in. But as part of the e-board for an organization, you are able to find yourself as well as establish a purpose for yourself. A student organization provides you with a support system and a close bond with many others who may share the same aspirations as you.

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  1. Professionalism

In the real world, it is important to be professional. But let’s talk facts; no one is born with perfect professional skills. You gain them through experience and practice. Holding an e-board position in an organization is a way in which you are able to practice your professional skills and get critiques on how to improve. The more experience you have in a professional environment, the more skills you pick up along the way that will prepare you for post-college.

  1. The Power to Make Big Change

An e-board position allows you to bring awareness to what you want to see change in the community and on campus. As an e-board member, you are able to guide your organization in the direction that will promote its existence.

  1. Give Back to Your Campus

One major gain you get from being on the e-board is the opportunity to make an impact. Your group will be assisting you as you work towards your organization’s goals and take action. Leading your organization to making a change on campus will not only benefit the student body but your organization as well because the impact that you leave will be remembered. You will develop many followers who look up to you and be a leader.

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I personally, have benefitted so much from my involvement in student organizations I can speak for any of these five benefits. One of my current positions as Treasurer of the Multicultural Greek Council has allowed me to network and improve on my leadership skills. Although this does take up a lot of my time, I would not do anything differently. I was challenged to manage my time which has taught me to prioritize and work on my organization.


Getting involved in leadership positions within student organizations have many more benefits than just the ones I mentioned. You also enhance your communication skills along the way as well as being able to inspire other students. And if you are not involved in any student organizations, I highly suggest you start exploring. One way to start is checking out the Multicultural Student Center which houses many multicultural student organizations. Feel free to visit our website for more information on how to get involved and check out CFLI, the Center for Leadership and Involvement, or log into WIN, the Wisconsin Involvement Network, and search through the different student orgs on campus.

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.

Present your work at the Undergraduate Symposium this April!

Are you engaged in research, service learning, fine art and performance? Present your work to the campus community and public-at-large! Last spring 630 students presented, displayed or performed their work for members of the University, the surrounding community, family and friends. The students were mentored by 345 faculty and staff.Interested in presenting your

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The Annual Undergraduate Symposium is a forum designed to showcase undergraduate students’ creativity, achievement and talent across all disciplines through oral presentations, poster sessions, exhibitions, film shorts (new this year), and performances. The Undergraduate Symposium is open to all University of Wisconsin – Madison students enrolled during the 2014-2015 academic year, including those who graduated in December.

This year’s Undergraduate Symposium will be held Thursday, April 16, 2015, in Union South. The schedule includes a film shorts session, a performance workshop where students can perform and discuss their creative process, and a reception at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The Undergraduate Symposium Web site is located at: http://www.learning.wisc.edu/ugsymposium/.  For more information, please contact Laurie Mayberry, Assistant Vice Provost, at 262-5246 or laurie.mayberry@wisc.edu.​

Calling All Young Artists! The Good Life Organization wants to hear your Voice!

The Good Life Organization, based out of Chicago and impacting cities across the nation, is putting out an open call to youth artists to share their voices, experiences, and art through a student organized, student led platform–The Youth Voice Nation Book.

What is the Good Life Organization? Watch and Find Out!

The Youth Voice Nation book was put together by Fulfill the Dream students as a means to showcase the work of young artists around the country. “Youth Voice Nation communicates a powerful message of hope as it accurately describes the harsh realities faced in communities around the nation, while also painting a picture of what is still possible.” The last edition of the Youth Voice Nation book had work from students all around the United States from cities like Los Angeles, CA to Providence, RI from Madison, WI to Cincinnati, OH. You can order the previous edition of the book or get the App in the Android and Apple Stores.

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If you’d like to contribute to the Good Life Organization’s next Youth Voice Book or know any youth looking for the opportunity to share their stories E-mail Marlon Salgado at m.salgado2013@gmail.com

Interested in learning more about The Good Life Organization? Follow their newsletter, Living the Good Life.

Check out The Ways: An Interactive Educational Experience

The Ways is more than an ethnic studies fulfillment and more than a simple website, it is an online home where stories from Native American communities all around the central Great Lakes area are gathered and shared. This ongoing series is produced by the Wisconsin Media Lab. The Ways offers access to educational media centered on incorporating Native American cultures, histories and contemporary narratives into curriculums in accordance to Wisconsin Act 31. This resource is described as being specifically geared towards 6-12 graders as a way to enrich their Social Studies learning experiences but the content is free, online, and available for people of all ages.

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Lady Thunderhawks is one of the stories featured on The Ways. The video follows Jessica House, a member of the Oneida Nation and the captain of The Lady Thunderhawks. The varsity basketball team is the first in Oneida Nation High School’s history to win a regional championship; the team’s success is a source of pride for the community and is also a source of inspiration for younger girls. The Thunderhawks’ dedication to culture and tradition mirrors the philosophies of the Oneida Nation school system which works to provide a common education while weaving Oneida cultural practices, concepts, and traditions into the general coursework.

Along with each video there is text, giving the viewer a more in depth look at the story being featured. In this case you can read more about the Oneida Nation school system, Jessica’s first experience with basketball, and the traditions that make the Lady Thunderhawks such an inspiration to those around them.

Outside of the beautifully composed videos, the site includes interactive maps where you can compare tribal lands to state lines. There are links available to related research and writings on the historical background of the land, relationships with the United States government, and options to share the maps on Facebook and Twitter.

For updates on The Ways make sure to follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.

To access more content from The Ways visit the website.

2014 MCOR Roundup

MCOR 2014 Poster_Final

Over the last weekend the MSC had the opportunity to host its annual, and heavily attended Multicultural Student Orientation and Reception (MCOR). On Friday September 5th, we celebrated all of our returns to campus in the original home of MCOR at the newly remodeled Memorial Union. The evening kicked off with a Campus Resource Fair in Tripp Commons at 5:30, where students were able to get information from several different Professional and Academic resources on campus about the services and opportunities that they offer. For even more pictures from the events and the performances, visit facebook.com/uwmulticultural

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Multicultural Student Center (MSC) Interns Eric, Hiwot & Daisy staffing the MSC resource table.

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MSC Intern Learesi discusses upcoming programs with two students at the student resource fair.

From there we took a trip into the newly remodeled Shannon Hall for a collection of performances by student groups with a wide variety of talents. From musical performances to cultural dances, the performances were impressive and well appreciated by the audience. The event was hosted by students Steven Rodriguez and Nailah Frye, and also included appearances by MSC Director Joshua Moon Johnson, Dean Lori Berquam, Vice Provost Patrick Sims, and University Chief of Police Susan Riseling.

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Students engage in an impromptu hip hop battle up on stage.

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The Wisconsin Surma dance crew performaing at MCOR 2014.

Below is a list of all the groups that performed:
• The BellHops
• Dancas Dance Club
• School of Bhangra
• University Gospel Choir
• REPLAY: HASA Dance Crew
• Wisconsin Surma

We left the performances hungry for more, and while the organized entertainment was over for the time being, guests had their appetites for more filled with the second best form of entertainment besides incredible performers. Food. The R in MCOR truly embodied the statement last but not least. As the last letter in the acronym one may think that it was less important than the other elements of the event. However, our guests were heavily receptive to the spread provided by the Wisconsin Union Catering. Lines stretched out the door and around the corner, all the way back to what else but more fun? During the reception our guests had the opportunity to dress up and get their photos taken in a photo booth with their friends, as well as explore the Great Hall and see all the tables at the Student Organization Fair. This event had an incredible turnout and was densely populated as students milled about learning more about Multicultural Student Orgs and how they can get involved in more communities on campus.

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A lively discussion at the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity booth at the Student Org Fair in Great Hall, Memorial Union.

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Student Org Fair in Great Hall, Memorial Union.

After food, friends, and entertainment there wasn’t much else we could ask of our guests except to dance their hearts out. From 10:30 to 1:00am in the new Playcircle Theatre we opened up the stage to some awesome First Wave performers and a DJ to allow the celebration to continue for those who wanted to burn the midnight oil.

Overall, the event was a great success and we anticipate a great year for all of our students and organizations. Be sure to come by anytime during our open hours to say hello or find a quiet place to study. And definitely take the chance to come to one or many of the plethora of events we will be putting on this semester!

The full calendar for MSC events, Fall 2014.

The full calendar for MSC events, Fall 2014.