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*

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Student organization workshops ways to prevent sexual assault on campus

By: Kelsey O’Hara

We’re Better Than That”-Men Against Sexual Assault kicked off Sexual Assault Awareness month April 3 with a video encouraging students to discuss sexual assaults happening within the Greek communities and change campus culture.

More than a week later, the video now has over 53,000 views with hundreds of likes and comments on Facebook. But UW-Madison student and project team leader for Men Against Sexual Assault Joseph Janz said this is only the beginning for the organization.

A small group of UW-Madison students founded the group last August, so they could incorporate men into the conversation of sexual assault on campus and involve them in finding the solution.

Janz said the group has worked to create a place for men to discuss, take action and raise awareness against sexual assault.

“Men have had a distinct role because they are seen as the perpetrators or assaulters, but we want men to have a strong role in finding the solution,” Janz said.

The group is made up of five project teams that address sexual violence in different areas of campus, including the Greek chapters, athletics and residence halls, by using collaborative workshops, events and social media campaigns.

Janz is currently working with University Housing to establish workshops in the residence halls for incoming students to raise awareness about sexual violence on campus and how they can be involved in the efforts to prevent it.

“We put on workshops to start the discussion about [sexual assault],” Janz said. “And by bringing these conversations into their daily life, we can help others make a change and become better bystanders.”

The workshops are currently being piloted through administrators of the housing division, and if approved, will begin the end of Spring Semester or beginning of Fall Semester.

The group has already conducted workshops within certain chapters of fraternities and sororities, encouraging peer-to-peer conversations about consent and prevention.

“A key component to us is peer-to-peer discussion,” Janz said, “because it’s more meaningful and effective when it’s comes from that peer connection.”

Men Against Sexual Assault, alongside Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment, will host a lecture by Jackson Katz, author of the book Macho Paradox, at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Chemistry Building.

*Follow link to original article on Daily Cardinal Website*

Limnologist analyzes water chemistry in Lake Mendota

By: Kelsey O’Hara
Luke Loken, a doctoral student with UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology, has found a way to convert his passion for being out on the water into an opportunity to understand the hidden chemistry that lies beneath the surface of lakes and rivers.
Loken, along with other faculty and grad students, uses a newly developed technology called FLAMe, acronym for “Fast Limnological Automated Measurements,” to gather data while continuously moving through different areas of lakes or rivers. This mobile sensor system pumps water from underneath a boat across a variety of different sensors and then spits the water back into the lake.
Loken and other limnologists rely on these sensors to observe separate areas of the lake and contrast the interactions that could affect the water’s chemistry.

“Just like a thermometer is a sensor that detects temperature, we have sensors that detect what the pH of the water is, how much dissolved oxygen there is, how much nitrate is in the water, or other elements like carbon dioxide or methane,” Loken said.

The data collected from these sensors helps scientists understand the spatial patterns of the water chemistry in certain aquatic ecosystems.

Loken uses his chemistry background along with his curiosity about the operations of aquatic ecosystems, like Lake Mendota, to investigate the variability of these systems throughout time.

“We have this method figured out about understanding just how variable these systems are,” Loken said. “And by knowing how much has changed through these continuums, we are opening the door to looking into more than just a few places to fully understand how an aquatic system operates.”

Loken emphasized the relatability of limnology, especially with being a research university located on a large lake. Most people have a constant interaction with the lake and are interested how it changes along the shoreline.

“You can imagine a fisherman or someone enjoying the beach has action with the water, and they have an investment in it,” Loken said, “The people care if it’s clean and if their children are going to enjoy it.”

This research promotes a dialogue among scientists, lake managers and policy makers to seek possible ways to improve water quality in rivers or lakes across the country.

“The more we understand how these ecosystems work, the more we might be able to suggest improvement actions or work with the DNR to improve water quality,” Loken said.

UW Fashion week concludes with final runway show

by: Kelsey O’Hara

Moda Magazine wrapped up its UW Fashion Week with their annual runway show Friday night, where student designers and Madison area retailers showcased their collections at Union South.

About 500 students and residents gathered in Union South’s Varsity Hall to watch UW Fashion Week’s finale show with eight featured collections, ranging from student and local designers to boutique retailers.

The staff at Moda have hosted UW Fashion Week and its runway show for the last five years. Each year, they’ve grown in audiences, events and designers.

Jen Anderson, editor-in-chief of Moda, said the founders of UW Fashion Week sought to increase the presence of fashion coverage on campus.

“They wanted to bring international and national styles to the forefront of our campus and make fashion be appreciated as an art form,” Anderson said.

Since then, the runway show has provided an opportunity for local and student designers to develop and unveil their own collections to a wide audience.

UW-Madison student designer Em Kinville said the show is a positive experience for students to get involved with the fashion program at UW-Madison.

“I know that a lot of schools don’t have fashion programs, and many people don’t even know that UW has a fashion program,” Kinville said. “So opportunities like [the fashion show] get the word out that we have this exciting program that a lot of people put work into.”

UW Fashion Week brings recognition to the textiles and fashion design major, but Anderson said that it also raises the appreciation of fashion as an art form on the UW-Madison campus.

“When I was a freshman, fashion week [was] what made me obsessed over Moda Magazine. It made me care a lot more because I saw how fashion could be an art form,” Anderson said. “Not just something pretty to look at but something to appreciate all the artistry that goes into it.”

The runway show served as the conclusion to UW Fashion Week, as Moda collaborated with other organizations for the first two events earlier last week.

The first event was a Monday night viewing of “The September Issue,” which was hosted by Moda and WUD Film. They both also worked with the Office of Sustainability for the “Swap and Shop” event Wednesday night, where people could trade in old garments for new fashion.

Anderson said that her successor will continue to grow their audience and develop relationships with more designers within the community to make next year’s show bigger.

“We want to be a household name in the community that designers can be interested in going to,” she said. “We’ve built strong partnerships like with Moda Muñeca, and we want to get more people like that to develop strong relationships with.”

*View the original article on the Daily Cardinal Website*