Addressing racism and hatred

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Officials at UW Oshkosh and the university police are continuing their investigation into a social media post that went viral last weekend.

An image posted late on April 25 on Twitter showed several people at what appeared to be a party at an off-campus house, standing in front of a banner with a hand-drawn swastika. Another image displayed a whiteboard attached to the wall with the words “No Liberals, Jews, Muslims, Queers or Hmongs” written on it.

Mandy Potts said on Wednesday that the investigation is continuing through the Dean of Students office.

UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt updated students on Monday with a campus-wide email and said they are reviewing this matter as a “bias-incident reporting investigation.”

Leavitt said he met with the Dean of Students leadership as well as other university administrators to “assess our efforts.”

“I realize that many of you will find this update inadequate, preferring more details, decisions and even names. I appreciate your interest and engagement. It shows you care about UW Oshkosh,” Leavitt said.

Several departments on campus are already taking action on their own. The journalism department, for instance, will hold a discussion next week about improving inclusivity within the department. The event will be held at 9:30 a.m. on May 10 in the Journalism Reading Room.

“We are hosting a conversation with diverse students next week to ask how we can improve the climate in our department and university,” Department Chair Sara Steffes-Hansen said. “Two of our students, Mimi Tang and Windy Xiong, are helping me lead the discussion, and we have students joining us from the LGBTQ community and other groups that have been affected by these recent negative events on campus.”

This is our second diversity event the department has held this semester.

Hansen said hatred and bigotry shouldn’t be on this campus.

“I believe these recent events are not a joke and do not reflect any sort of majority on this campus, but that they may increase fear that certain students feel,” Hansen said. “UW Oshkosh is not a place for anger and fear. This university is a place for pursuing dreams and goals for bright futures.”

The communications department is hosting a similar event on Monday from 12:40-1:40 p.m. The discussion will be held in Arts and Communication Building Room S118.
In response to the backlash on this trending Tweet, a public forum was held on campus last Friday afternoon.

“To anyone who brings hate into the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh community, I invite you to leave,” Leavitt wrote in a campus-wide email that was also posted on his personal Twitter account last Friday.

Nick DA OX Metoxen, leader of the Inter-Tribal Student Organization at UWO, spoke at the forum. Metoxen made it clear what she thinks the correct punishment should be for those responsible.

“Those people need to be gone,” Metoxen said. “Not invited to leave. They need to be told to leave.”

Assistant Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students Art Munin said the University is not legally allowed to share information about other students, but added that laws haven’t been updated and could use a change.

“We are going to do every single thing that we can to ensure that this hate does not come back into our community,” Munin said at Friday’s forum.

Leavitt said the university is doing its best to bring justice while also following policies and regulations that are already in place.

“We must always balance your right to know with our obligation to abide by policies and laws that mandate we protect the identities of all students,” Leavitt said. “I thank you for understanding this.”