WMSN FOX 47
 

FOX47 NEWS - UW Diversity Efforts

Jeff Angileri
Mar 3, 2009, 10:55 PM


The UW System wrapped up its 10-year plan to increase diversity on campus with mixed success.

Plan 2008 was meant to attract more students of color to UW campuses through recruitment, scholarships, retention efforts, and diverse coursework.

A new report says Wisconsin made progress, but much work remains to be done.

Even in 2009, students say it isn't easy being a black student at a predominately white university.

There's a lot of times where you can go to class and be the only person of color in the class, or be the only colored person walking down the street for that matter, said Roxanne Watts, who is president of her black sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.

The UW's chief diversity officer says the UW campus is a microcosm of the broader challenges throughout the state of Wisconsin.

What happens in the city of Milwaukee, what happens in Racine, what happens in Madison, what happens in Oshkosh -- as a result the university as a whole is a reflection of those things, said Damon Williams, UW vice provost for climate & diversity.

A new report says the plan made strides to confront those challenges. Minority enrollment is up 64% since 1998. Retention also improved -- 75% of freshman minorities continued to their sophomore year. UW employees of color also increased 64%.

Students say more work needs to be done on a personal level.

Often times, student organizations shoulder the responsibility of helping minority students connect socially and academically.

Being in a sorority helped me find a sisterhood and family that I could always rely on, said Davina Tolbert, member of Delta Sigma Theta.

Having diverse course work and a multicultural center helps, students say, but in the end, it's up to everyone on campus to make a concerted effort.

So, it's not just the multicultural students together all the time, Tolbert said. So, if more people are willing to cross those lines just to integrate.

Watts said she woudn't be at UW-Madison had it not been for the Plan 2008 diversity efforts. She came because of the PEOPLE program, which recruits minorities to UW, starting in middle school and high school, and helps students and their families make college a priority.

The UW System board of regents will discuss the next steps for diversity during a meeting Thursday.

Delta Sigma Theta is hosting a Women of Wisconsin Community Collaborative Event March 20 -21. The purpose is to build bridges between organizations, and is open to everyone. Registration ends March 8th, 2009. Send an email to 2009CLC@gmail.com to request registration forms or for more information.

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