- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Students, faculty and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are proposing everything from mandatory diversity classes to a board game to address issues of race and discrimination on campus.

University officials solicited the proposals amid a semester marked by racially charged incidents and an increased push from students for inclusivity. The 107 proposals, released Thursday, focus on diversity training, increased mental health and mentoring services for minority students and building connections with the broader Madison community. There’s also a push in the proposals to increase understanding about what types of issues minorities face on the predominantly white campus.

“My view of them is they are a beginning,” said Greg Steinberger, executive director of the campus Hillel center and a member of the committee reviewing the proposals. “They can only be helpful, but they are only a beginning.”

A committee of students, faculty, staff and community members is reviewing the proposals and planned to send recommendations to UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank by the end of the semester, which was last week. University spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said the committee is still working on its recommendations and should have more information in a few weeks.

Many proposals call for a one-credit class or freshman training program to address race and bias, while others want to increase staff support to diversify STEM fields. Some proposals want to find ways for students to share their experiences through writing or art, using a blog or booklet or even a board game meant to present players with situations that sensitize them to cultural differences.

“I think that the proposals that I’ve heard about so far are frankly really good and it’s just in the hands of the administration to follow through,” said Betty Nen, a freshman who proposed the “Birds of Paradise” blog.

Steinberger said many of the proposals will need to be fleshed out before they can be implemented.

Other proposals could be incorporated into efforts that are already under way, McGlone said in an email, while others will be recommended as priorities for new start-ups.

“We want to give the committee the time it needs to figure out how to make use of as much of this feedback as possible,” McGlone said.

About 76 percent of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s undergraduate population is white, making it the second-whitest campus among the 14 universities in the Big 10 conference. It also has the smallest percentage of black undergraduate students, at just over 2 percent.

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Follow Bryna Godar on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bgodar


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