Tag Archives: UW

130 UW students hurt by Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban

Immigration and civil rights advocates in Wisconsin spoke out yesterday against President Donald Trump’s travel ban affecting seven mostly Muslim countries, while the University of Wisconsin urged about 130 affected students not to leave the country because they may not be able to return.

Word of people trying to come to Wisconsin from other countries who have had their plans derailed — including a Sudanese victim of torture and a UW student ‑ also began to surface.

Gov. Scott Walker broke his silence on the ban, saying that “we should ensure we are doing everything possible to put the safety of our citizens first.” Walker had opposed Trump’s call as a presidential candidate in December 2015 to ban all Muslims from entering the country.

Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, of Green Bay, said the travel ban “could have been better handled” by the Trump administration while all others in the state’s congressional delegation praised it or said nothing.

Gallagher, a U.S. Marine veteran, said Trump should have worked closer with Congress to ensure those who fought with the U.S. in Iraq and legal permanent residents were not affected.

Critics, including every Democrat in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, denounced the travel ban as un-American.

“This goes against everything our country represents, going back to our founder’s conviction in the United States as a nation where the government does not discriminate against any religion,” said Emilio De Torre, youth and program director at Wisconsin’s American Civil Liberties Union, at a news conference at the Islamic Resource Center in Milwaukee.

Travel ban affects real people

Trump has insisted that the order he signed is not a ban on Muslims entering the country but is instead a measure designed to keep the country safe. Trump’s order includes a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program.

A 24-year-old man escaping violence and torture in Sudan did not arrive in Wisconsin as scheduled yesterday due to the temporary immigration ban, said Mary Flynn, program director of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. The man’s case had been expedited because he was a victim of torture, Flynn said. Six other individuals who were to be helped by the group in the next few months have had their cases cancelled as of Monday, Flynn said.

Fessahaye Mebrahtu, executive director Pan-African Community Association in Milwaukee, said many of the Iraqi, Somalian and Sudanese refugees his organization worked with have been waiting for family members to arrive. The executive order now puts those plans on hold, he said.

There are about 130 UW students statewide affected by the travel ban and they should not leave the country, President Ray Cross said in a message to the campuses. UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said university officials were working with one student whose plans to return to the U.S. may be affected by the order, but she had no further details.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank called for Trump yesterday to reconsider the travel ban, saying it affects “real people — researchers, scholars, students and staff — who are essential to our goals of providing a world-class education.”

Associated Press writers Ivan Moreno and Cara Lombardo contributed to this report. Moreno reported from Milwaukee.


With first votes looming, Republican opposition to Walker’s budget has hardened

The first votes on Gov. Scott Walker’s two-year state budget will come this week, but the most difficult decisions, including whether to reduce cuts to public schools and the University of Wisconsin, aren’t expected to be made until later in May.

Far from sailing through the Republican-controlled Legislature, key portions of Walker’s budget have met with stiff bipartisan opposition as the Republican governor ramps up his likely presidential bid.

The $300 million cut to UW, a $127 million reduction in K-12 funding the first year and $1.3 billion in borrowing for roads are the most frequently mentioned of Walker’s proposals that Republicans say they want to change.

But none of those are on the agenda for the first meeting of the Joint Finance Committee on Wednesday.

Its work instead begins with debate over further cuts to funding and the responsibilities of the secretary of state’s office, transferring control of the independent commission that investigates judicial misconduct to the Supreme Court and eliminating a council that advises policy makers on court policy and other issues.

Most of the public attention, and opposition voiced at a series of public hearings and listening sessions the past two months, focused on different issues, many of which Republicans have said are dead on arrival.

Rep. John Nygren, co-chair of the budget committee, said last month that Walker’s cost-saving proposal to force those in the popular prescription drug program SeniorCare to first enroll in Medicare Part D, where they would likely pay more for their medications, won’t pass.

Walker’s $220 million borrowing plan to pay for a new Milwaukee Bucks stadium is too rich for most Republicans, who are working with Walker on other less costly state financing plans.

Other problem areas include: taking policy-setting power away from the Department of Natural Resources Board; replacing the system that provides long-term care for the elderly and disabled with a new model under which the state would contract with large insurance companies; and paying for expanding the private-school voucher program by taking money from public schools that lose students.

Republicans have also sent strong signals that Walker’s plan to give the UW System independence and autonomy from state laws won’t pass as proposed. Instead, the Legislature is looking at reducing the size of the budget cut while granting UW some flexibility from state oversight to help it save money.

Both sides are anxiously awaiting updated tax collection forecasts, expected early in May, which will then largely dictate how dramatically Walker’s proposed cuts to schools, UW and elsewhere will be scaled back.

“So much is really waiting on those revenue numbers, it’s hard to know” how much Walker’s proposals could change, said Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos last week.

Republican leaders have repeatedly said their top priority is to reduce Walker’s proposed cuts for K-12 education and UW. Under Walker’s budget, public school districts would be left with about $135 less to spend per student over the next two years.

Walker is prioritizing cutting property taxes. He does that by giving schools more aid, but not increasing the revenue limit so they can spend more, which has the effect of lowering property taxes. Under Walker’s plan, property taxes on the typical home would go down an average of $5 a year each of the next two years.

Rep. Gordon Hintz, a Democrat from Oshkosh who is on the budget committee, argued it’s not worth gutting public schools’ budgets for just $5 a year in property tax relief.

Sierra Club makes Earth Day plans in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter marks Earth Day with a celebration of John Muir’s 175th birthday.

The celebration takes place in Muir Park in Marquette County on April 21. Muir grew up in that area and went to school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Plans include a clean up in the park, followed by a hike and then music by the Sweet Earth Band at the nearby Moundville Church.

Also, the chapter is commemorating a 50th anniversary at UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery with national Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune and former state Rep. Spencer Black on April 20. The anniversary event includes proclamations, a social hour and tours and speeches, including a keynote address by Brune.

“The Sierra Club’s motto is explore, enjoy and protect the planet,” said Brune. “It’s not just about problems. This is an organization that’s equally determined to protecting the planet’s last, best places and to having a great time exploring and enjoying those places. A love of nature helps inspire us to do what we must to save it.”

Chapter director Shahla M. Werner has praise for people who commemorate Earth Day and also do what they can to protect the environment and minimize their impact on the Earth.

Said Werner, “There are so many things that people can do on a personal level for climate change: walking, riding a bike or taking transit when they can instead of driving; weatherizing their homes, using more efficient appliances and turning down their thermostats to maximize energy conservation and efficiency; installing solar panels or participating in utility green power pricing programs to support renewable energy over coal and natural gas.

“We all have a role to play, but we won’t be able to effectively address climate change unless we also get good state and federal policies to address the problem – everything from higher renewable energy requirements to a carbon tax to better nationwide transit support and high speed rail to a national energy efficiency standard.”

On the Web …


LGBT health conference set for Madison

The LGBT Intergenerational Health Conference will take place in May with support from the OutReach LGBT Center in Madison, New Harvest Foundation, UW-Madison and other entities.

The event includes a free showing of the film “GenSilent” at Market Square Theatre at 7 p.m. on May 4, followed by a discussion with producer Stu Maddux.

Plans for May 5 include an all-day conference at Agrace HospiceCare,
5395 E. Cheryl Pkwy., Madison that coincides with the introduction of OutReach’s Share the Care Station to help care for people after surgeries or living with chronic illness. Workshop topics cover prevention, treatment, caretaking, legal protections, medical costs, insurance and government programs.

For more, including registration details, go to www.lgbtoutreach.org.

Report alleges UW athletic official grabbed student’s crotch

A University of Wisconsin student alleged that an athletic department official grabbed his crotch at an alcohol-fueled party during the football team’s trip to the Rose Bowl, according to an independent report released by the school on Jan. 24.

According to AP, the report says the student alleges former senior associate athletic director John Chadima put his hand down the student’s pants at the end of a party in Chadima’s suite at a Los Angeles hotel on Dec. 31.

The student – identified as John Doe in the report – said he was “shocked and frightened” and slapped Chadima’s hand away.

Chadima was put on administrative leave on Jan. 6 and resigned the same day. He previously had issued an apology for a “lapse in judgment” and issued another statement through his attorney this week.

“I make no excuses and have come to the realization that over the past few months, alcohol had controlled and consumed my life,” Chadima said. “I am taking steps to correct that problem in my life at this time. I will take full responsibility for my lack of judgment and actions that evening.”

The report said its findings were based on interviews with 23 people, including students and professional staff – but they were “not able to arrange an interview” with Badgers football coach Bret Bielema.

Three student employees of the athletic department declined to be interviewed.

The report also reviewed information from Chadima’s office computer and school-issued cell phone.

Chadima declined to speak with the panel.

The report said Chadima hosted a bowl game party for staff and student employees for at least the past four years. The most recent party began Dec. 30 and lasted into the early morning hours of Dec. 31, at Chadima’s hotel suite. According to the report, Chadima provided “alcohol, beer and mixers” and guests were invited to serve themselves. Some of the guests were under age 21.

Sometime between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m., the alleged victim was leaving along with the last few people left at the party when he said Chadima asked him to “stay here and have a drink with me.” The alleged victim said he and Chadima both had several more drinks and “probably were intoxicated,” but were coherent and in control of their physical movements.

According to the report, Chadima then said he thought the student was gay, and said some of the other student employees thought he was gay. The student said it made him “uncomfortable and defensive.”

The student then said Chadima reached over and removed the student’s belt, putting his hands inside the student’s pants and touching his genitals. The student said he slapped Chadima’s hand away and swore at him.

At that point, the student said Chadima said he thought the student liked it, asking, “What are you going to do about it?” and saying, “I could have you fired.”

The student said he quickly left the room, and Chadima seemed to want to gloss over the incident as “just joking around.”

The report said the student then went to the hotel room of his immediate supervisor, whose name is redacted in the report, and related the incident. The student said at the time he didn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize the team’s Rose Bowl preparations.

The student then told a consistent version of the story to three fellow student employees. The report says the student was “pleased and satisfied” with the supportive response he received from the supervisor and fellow students.

The student traveled on the team charter flight back to Madison on Jan. 3.

According to the report, the two unidentified officials called UW police lieutenant Jason Whitney on the morning of Jan. 4; Whitney had traveled with the team to the Rose Bowl.

In a meeting that afternoon, Whitney presented a Dec. 13, 2011, memo from UW-Madison police department chief Susan Riseling which emphasized that any employee witnessing or receiving a report about a sexual assault is required to report it to the Dean of Students office. According to the report, Whitney emphasized the importance of acting promptly.

But the report said the unidentified officials felt “uneasy” about reporting the incident without alerting officials in the athletic department. They described the incident to Holly Weber, the athletic department’s human relations director.

Weber said she would discuss it with senior university legal counsel John Dowling, and asked them to wait until she got back to them to contact the dean. That meeting happened Jan. 6, where the unnamed officials who called Whitney were told to stop the athletic department’s investigation of the incident and that the chancellor’s office would decide how to proceed.

According to the report, the chancellor and Athletic Director Barry Alvarez determined Chadima would be placed on administrative leave. The chancellor decided to appoint a committee to conduct the investigation.

Chadima did not specifically address any of the report’s allegations in his statement.

“I have learned a very hard lesson through this process, am paying a difficult price for my actions, and I hope that a lesson can somehow be learned by all from this situation,” he said. “I also hope that my apologies will be accepted, and forgiveness given.”

Source: AP

Students protest hate incidents at UW-Platteville

More than 200 UW-Platteville students walked out of class and marched on campus during finals week to protest 25 reported incidents of racially motivated hate crimes on campus this semester, according to Channel3000.com.

Those incidents include graffiti, threats and vandalism.

“I’m ashamed. Flat out, I’m just ashamed. I think people who tend to want to brush the events under the rugs aren’t really walking the footsteps of students of color on this campus,” graduate student Kate Bucko was quoted as saying.

“We have to stand up. We have to tell people how serious this is,” Quincy Buffkin told the crowd.

Students told Channel3000.com that the march was a call to start a conversation about the issue. Some said the conversation should have begun long ago.

UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields told students the real problem was that no one had come forward with information on who is responsible for these acts.

Graduate students organized the rally via Facebook and word of mouth. It event comes a week after university faculty and staff held a similar march to bring awareness racist acts.

UW-Whitewater has also been plagued with a series of hate-motivated incidents this semester, including two attacks based on perceived sexual orientation.

Police investigate new hate crimes at UW-Whitewater

Police are investigating more hate crimes at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater – this time involving vandalism to the cars of three black students.

The university said someone slashed the tires of the cars and spray-painted “KKK” on the doors and hoods. The incidents happened between 11 p.m. on Nov. 8 and 10 a.m. on Nov. 9.

The reports of vandalism follow closely on the heels of a Nov. 7 incident in which a freshman walking on the north side of campus was approached by two white males, one of whom pushed her into a fence and held her there. He let her go after making a derogatory remark about her perceived sexual orientation.

In September, a woman was punched in the face near campus while wearing a T-shirt that said “Legalize gay.”

The State Journal reported earlier that police do not believe the two assaults are linked.

UW-Whitewater Chancellor Richard J. Telfer issued a statement following the second assault saying that bullying and hate crimes would not be tolerated on campus or in the local community.

“UW-Whitewater is a place that values all people,” he said. “This incident goes against everything that we stand for as a campus.”

In addition to conducting an exhaustive investigation, UW-Whitewater police will provide an increased presence on campus, Telfer said.

The university plans meetings to discuss how to stop such incidents.

Police investigate another possible hate crime at UW-Whitewater

Police in Whitewater are investigating another possible hate crime on the university campus.

Authorities said a female freshman was walking on the north side of campus on the evening of Nov. 7 when two white males approached her. One of them pushed her into a fence and held her there. He let her go after making a derogatory remark about her perceived sexual orientation.

The report follows another recent incident in which a woman was punched in the face on campus while wearing a T-shirt that said “Legalize gay.”

The State Journal reported that police do not believe the two assaults are linked.

UW-Whitewater Chancellor Richard J. Telfer issued a statement saying that bullying and hate crimes would not be tolerated on campus or in the local community.

“UW-Whitewater is a place that values all people,” he said. “This incident goes against everything that we stand for as a campus.”

In addition to conducting an exhaustive investigation, UW-Whitewater police will provide an increased presence on campus, Telfer said.

“I am also working with student leaders and faculty and staff to develop strategies for combating this type of behavior,” Telfer said. “I encourage all students, faculty and staff to be proactive in putting an end to this type of hurtful and destructive behavior.”

The Walworth County Sheriff’s Department has created a composite picture of the attacker in the Nov. 7 incident.