UW administration aims to create diverse campuses

By: Kelsey O’Hara

In recent months, diversity advocates expressed concerns about the UW System’s approaches in improving the experiences of minority students and Wisconsin’s educational disparity between white and black students.

Members of the UW administration recognized the need for overall improvement in students’ experiences and the achievement gaps separating students of color from white students.

The administration remains committed to modelling inclusive behaviors through programs and services offered on UW campuses.

UW System President Ray Cross met with the United Council of Students late last month, and discussed the criticisms and challenges faced by minority students.

“It troubles me,” Cross said in a statement. “And that’s why I’m glad all of us in the UW System continue to work on important, very tangible action items to ultimately improve the experiences of all students, staff and faculty members. Can we and should we do more? Yes, and I have asked the students to help us in that effort.”

Cross said faculty members across the UW system want to open the dialogue for minority students to discuss challenges that stem from educational disparities and injustices within society.

“We need to remember that many UW System students of color at the institutions throughout our state have not had the time or space or platform to share their experiences, be they good or bad,” Cross said. “We need to listen to their issues carefully and thoughtfully.”

Faculty on the UW-Madison campus are proactive about recruiting and retaining a diverse student body through programs that forward working across differences.

Aaron Bird Bear, UW-Madison’s Interim Assistant Dean for student diversity programs, said UW institutions understand the lack of opportunities for certain groups of students and therefore use programs like POSSE or First Wave to deal with educational inequality.

“Equity has to acknowledge the differentials in opportunities for success that people have been born into,” Bird Bear said. “Equity is the focus of how we trying to figure out how to continue support and sustain diversity at the institution.”

According to the Academic Planning Institutional Research office, there is a significant difference between Wisconsin’s non-minority and minority high school graduates in “preparedness” for UW-Madison courses.

In 2010, 25 percent of white high school graduates fit the “well-prepared” category, while only 2 percent of black graduates were well-prepared, according to the APIR pipeline update.

Despite racial disparities among students, diversity programs offer pre-college, undergraduate and graduate programs to help underrepresented students connect with faculty and other peers to build a network of support.

Bird Bear acknowledged the upcoming social movement from the eroding race relations in the United States.

He said it is important to focus on commonalities instead of differences as the administration continues to improve the experience of minority students on campus.

“Students of color, without expressing that they’re dissatisfied with the relationships and experiences they are having, are humans within our community,” Bird Bear said. “And one of our roles [as faculty] is to make sure students feel supported.”

*View the original article at the Daily Cardinal*

Spring Break, Wisco Style

By: Kelsey O’Hara

Spring break is typically associated with sandy beaches, cocktails with tiny umbrellas, clear skies and warm sunshine. Unfortunately, it’s also associated with money.

As broke college students, it’s unlikely that we can all go to Daytona or Key West with our friends, especially with the tuition, rent and credit card bills built up in the mailbox. But that doesn’t mean students can’t have a great ‘staycation’ in Wisconsin and save a few dollars in the process.

There are a few ways to enjoy spring break, right here in Cheesehead territory.

1. Volunteer

Madison, along with other cities in Wisconsin, offers plenty of opportunities for students and residents to give back to the community and spring break is a great time to volunteer do to the extra amount of free time we have and help the community that we live in 9 months out of the year. In Madison, people can look for volunteer opportunities in theMorgridge Center for Public Service and the WUD Spring Break Alternatives website.

2. Get in touch with nature

We’re blessed with easy access to beautiful natural parks and lakes that surround our campus. Spring break can be a time where students can get back to their natural roots and enjoy relaxing time in nature. It can be as simple as walking to picnic point with some friends or taking a trip to the Arboretum to explore trails and the wildlife preserved in Madison. A popular location that requires a short car ride is Devil’s Lake that offers swimming, wildlife and hiking trails over the bluffs of the lake.

3. Pick up a hobby

The beauty of free time is that we can take time for ourselves and do things that we enjoy. And this free time can be used to try a new activity and develop a new hobby. The Monona Terrace offers afternoon yoga for any level or take swing dancing lessons at Jumptown. Putting yourself out there can help you find new activities or hobbies that we can continue. Or if you try something that you don’t love, at least you experienced something new and possibly met new people from it.

4. Go to a concert

If you saved some money or just love music, it’s easy to take a trip to Milwaukee to see big name artists like Adam Lambert or Mayday Parade. Or if you want to stay local, Breaking Benjamin and Cole Swindell are visiting Madison later this month. If they don’t fit your music taste, check out madison.eventful.com to see more concerts available in Madison or in any Wisconsin area.

5. Road Trip

Even if we can’t travel to Florida or the Bahamas, we don’t have to stop our inner explorer. Chicago is about a three hour drive from Madison, and the perfect place to visit for a day trip. Minneapolis is a four hour drive that is upcoming in terms of restaurants, businesses and nightlife. And the city itself can be relatively cheap if you prefer to stay the night in either of the Twin Cities. Either way, rent a car, find a map and drive somewhere that you want to go. Have a great adventure.

6. Explore Madison

If you can’t leave the city, it can be fun to explore and find hidden gems within Madison. Never actually been inside the Capitol? Take a tour. Want a laugh? Hit the Comedy Club on State street. Find new restaurants that you wanted to try or hit the Lake Mendota for volleyball or just strolling the beach. Try to fulfill one new thing each day of Spring Break, and you’ll have engaging stories to tell your friends when they return to Madison. Plus, you can recommend new places for your friends to try on the weekend.

7. Take a Break

The point of Spring Break is to take a break from school! Make sure to relax and enjoy the time usually dedicated towards work or school to do something you love, whether it’s a road trip, a concert, a hike or sleeping in. Trust me, enjoy it before you come back to the usual midterm stress.

*View Original Post on the Odyssey*

To Donald Trump: An Open Letter

Mr. Trump,

You’re quite the personality, probably one of the most captivating candidates throughout past elections. You create headlines simply by walking into the GOP debates, and you use your charisma to present yourself as the alternative the American public wants, the one they need.

But you’re not.

You are a reality star, a failed businessman, a bigot and an unqualified presidential candidate.

I’m honestly terrified by the amount of supporters you’ve gathered through your hate and ignorance, and how that will skew who will sit in the oval office after the upcoming presidential election.

Let me lay out all my reasons behind why you will never receive my vote.

You’re unqualified.

Unlike every other president that served the United States, you’ve never had a single day of public office or military experience. I’m sorry to inform you that hosting “The Apprentice” and running a real estate business is not the same thing as running an entire country and leaning on your decisions to run smoothly.

If this were any other job, no one would hire you without previous experience in the industry; so for president, a reality star and former real estate mogul with no governmental/military experience shouldn’t run a country on his own.

I want someone that I can trust to hold the codes of the US nuclear weapons and understand the consequences of their use for our country and the world. And the public needs someone that comprehends the problems and limitations in the governmental system and can make the appropriate choices when the country in is a crisis.

You’re ignorant about national issues

You’ve publicly admitted to being ignorant of issues dealing with nuclear weapons and the current nuclear tests in North Korea to causes of autism to the effects of your tax plan on the deficit and much more.

Why should I give to my vote to someone doesn’t even care enough to prepare himself properly for GOP candidate debates? Do you think that makes me want to vote for you, someone who doesn’t even inform himself on issues that are critical to our nation’s public interest?

You’re ridiculous.

It’s governmental officials’ duty to stay informed of the public interests and create a dialogue that improves our country’s policies, not spew hatred to the minorities that make up our populations. All your ‘policies’ and plans are based on bias opinions and faulty evidence instead of facts.

You pass yourself as someone who is challenging the system and creating discourse for the republican party, but you’re actually just uninformed about how politics work.

You’re a narcissist and a bigot.

You commend yourself for your excellence in business and in extremist approaches to politics. But someone that holds the highest position in our country shouldn’t rely on just himself and his opinions to make choices for an entire country full of different ethnicities, races and opinions.

You’ve made it clear about your intolerance towards Mexicans, Muslims and women despite their integrated role within our society. And you are building a huge wall of hatred around yourself, based on narcissism and an appeal to the Christian white man.

You need to get over yourself and respect the people that make up our country if you want to hold any true leadership within our government because people want someone who is a role model that kids can look up to and someone they can lean on for leadership, not someone who solves their problems with walls and inconsistent polices.

Honestly, there are many reasons why neither republicans or democrats should support your current campaign. But for anyone supports you, I just hope they see past your charisma and extremist speeches to see what’s best for them and our country.

It doesn’t even have anything to do with your party; it’s about you.

Like President Obama said, I believe that the America will see past your gimmicks to know what it really takes to be the leader and president of the United States of America.

If you really want to change America and our governmental system, use your fame to promote positive change through public instead of this insane crusade for a position you aren’t ready for.


A concerned citizen

*View Original Post on the Odyssey*

Body Shaming and Why it Needs to Stop

by: Kelsey O’Hara

As Taylor Swift celebrated another Grammy win on Feb. 15, comedian Amy Schumer posted a playful photo alongside friend and fellow comedian Bridget Everett on Instagram. Schumer stood behind Everett on a beach, with her hands thrown up and legs separated. Her caption said, “Taylor that’s not a thigh gap. This is a thigh gap.”

Schumer’s Instagram photo.

Some fans defended Schumer through claims that it’s how she embraces her own body, or it’s a part of her comedic style and it’s just a joke.

But where’s the line between a “joke” and outright body-shaming?

As an advocate for defying beauty standards in Hollywood, Schumer has expressed the struggles of being “outside” the typical hollywood appearance.

“It’s been a struggle for me my whole life, especially just being in the entertainment industry, standing on a stage in front of people,” Schumer said in a previous interview. “I can’t perform my best or be confident if I’m not sure, if I’m pulling at something. Sometimes I would just want to throw in the towel and say, ‘I’m not going to do stand-up tonight.’”

Schumer, along with other celebrities, has tried to shift the perception of beauty throughout the media to include women across a spectrum of size and color.

But fans of both Schumer and Swift argued that shaming other women’s physical appearances is destructive to self-esteem and hurtful to all women.

“Calling women out for being fat or thin is body shaming and is not OK or funny. Let’s just all support each other. Not shame each other,” drsylviemom commented on the Instagram post.

“You could say the same about your friend Jennifer Lawrence? I thought we were past taking down other women for what is or isn’t a ‘real body’? Disappointed in you Amy,” ajlovesbbq said.

Though Swift hasn’t commented about the post, fans and women across the country are concerned about the battle between embracing your body and tearing down others.

But why does it have to be one or the other?

Schumer’s post could’ve easily captioned with something equally as funny that promotes her own beauty instead of focusing on Swift’s physical appearance.

I understand that it was sarcasm and meant to be funny. But as someone who struggles with her own body, I don’t understand how pointing out and shaming someone else for their body as “funny.”

Honestly, we need to cut that sh*t out.

Body-shaming someone for being too fat or too skinny is not only hurtful to them, but also hurtful to everyone who is embarrassed about their thigh gap or their love handles. Self-esteem impacts everyone, whether you notice it or not.

The media will never change how it perceives women if we can’t stop analyzing and judging the women around us and start supporting one another. Once we can respect ourselves, society will start to respect a wider definition of beauty.

Whether you’re a size 18 or a size 00, we all deserve respect, not just for our looks but for who we are as people. No need to compliment every woman you meet unless you want to, but be aware of how your words, or jokes, could impact someone’s self-worth.

*View original post on the Odyssey*