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UW-Whitewater officials to investigate racist incidents

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater officials said in mid-February that a committee on race relations will shift focus from gathering information to taking action after a handful of racially tinged incidents on campus.

Tom Rios, vice chancellor of student affairs, said the group would soon present new ideas to UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper. He said it’s too early to talk specifics, but he wanted to improve faculty and staff diversity.

Rios said the committee formed at the start of the semester to get in front of potential racial tensions that have triggered protests across the nation. The incidents have occurred since then.

They included a photo of two students in exfoliating masks, posted to a social media site, that some people took as blackface. The students said that wasn’t their intent.

The Black Student Union also reported a racial slur was written on a black student’s door this semester and white students posted a video using the same slur.

“As with most issues, what comes to light is only the tip of the iceberg,” Whitney Supianoski, the group’s faculty adviser, said.

The group has called for multicultural education and additional minority-focused programs and services on campus.

Rios emphasized the school want students to be part of any potential solution.

“If you want to grow, you have to take a hard look at yourselves,” he said. “People here at UW-Whitewater, they care. They care deeply.”

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