Diversity for me, but not for thee?
A residence hall employee at the University of Wisconsin Madison is in hot water after allegedly telling the occupants to ‘not bring too many white students around’ to the Multicultural Learning Center for Witte Residence Hall.
Spokesperson Meredith McGlone has since announced that the employee, Chuefeng Yang, has been suspended and placed on paid leave after the racially charged comments were confirmed.
“We want to be clear that neither race nor any other form of background/identity shall be used as a basis to determine who residents may invite to visit them. Discrimination is counter to our values as an institution,” McGlone said.
Yang, who considers himself a community leader who is vocal about racial issues, stated that “It’s not to say white students are not allowed here. But it’s just to say, ‘Let’s make sure we’re protecting the intentionality of this space.”
Several students spoke up about this blatant racism, and the University issued a statement pointing out that discrimination is counter to their values, and race or identity will not be used to decide who the students invite into their dormitory.
Yang attempted to point to a more significant problem looming on the horizon by stating that students of color are not listened to in the same capacity as white students. He goes on to say that minorities have been ’emailing,’ ‘begging,’ and ‘complaining’ about their needs to administrators to no avail. Yet apparently, when white students brought these comments to the University’s attention, they were heard right away.
Yang continued to accuse the white students of being the problem.
“Is it truly that they’re so uncomfortable around me they don’t feel safe,” he asked, “or is it just that they’re uncomfortable because for the first time in their life, their whiteness and their white privilege is being challenged?”
According to the school website, the Multicultural Learning Community’s aim is to create safe spaces for diverse groups of students, to foster an understanding between people with different beliefs, and to teach students about social justice. This comes only weeks after the University issued an apology over the homecoming video that featured too many white students. Activists are concerned that minorities do not feel safe and welcome on campus despite the numerous resources and housing options that cater specifically to their needs.
Race relations appear to be going in the wrong direction at our schools and universities. Diversity only works when all are included.
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