Former UW-Milwaukee student: UWM deceives, targets disadvantaged students


Joseph Schulz, Managing Editor

Since she was 5 years old, lifelong Janesville resident Almond Moone has always dreamed of going to college.

However, being wrongfully charged out-of-state tuition by UW-Milwaukee has cast a long shadow over those dreams, even as Moone works to pick up the pieces of her life.

In an interview with The Advance-Titan, Moone said the university still refuses to provide her academic transcripts as she works to return to college to become a pediatrician.

“I haven’t been able to get my grades that I earned back from them, but I was able to get my charges waived,” she said. “Right now, I’m just focused on trying to get my transcripts.”

UWM declined a request for comment regarding Moone’s situation and other allegations of discriminatory behavior.

While Moone is working to return to college, her journey toward achieving a lifelong dream began years ago.

From kindergarten onward, Moone kept her grades up, never turned in late assignments, participated in extracurricular activities and volunteered in her community to improve her chances of getting accepted by a prestigious university.

After graduating high school in 2017, Moone spent her freshman year of college at UW-Rock County, a two-year access campus to UW-Whitewater.

In 2018, Moone transferred to UWM, the second largest university in the UW System, because she said the school had portrayed itself as an inclusive institution that would work to meet the needs of low-income students.

“I went to the orientation and they were talking about how they would help low-income students or [how] they were very inclusive,” she said. “I really believed it was true, so that’s why I went there.”

But her dreams were dashed when she was wrongly charged out of state tuition, after being charged in-state tuition at UWRC.

At the time, Moone said she didn’t understand what the problem was because her transcript from UWRC listed her as a Wisconsin resident and when she applied for financial aid she proved she was a state resident.

“It made me feel a little betrayed because, naturally, I trusted the school,” Moone said. “That was very frustrating and I can’t understand why they would do that, other than to target me.”

She tried to resolve the issue with the school directly. For months, Moone went back and forth with the university, providing documents proving her Wisconsin residency only to have the university dismiss her at each turn.

“No matter how much information I gave to them, they wouldn’t accept it,” she said.

The bills piled up. She inevitably left school in late 2019, and by early 2020 she owed UWM nearly $15,000.

Then, Moone told her story to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, providing documents that backed up her claim. UWM eventually waived her debt — but  only after the incident was reported on in the media.

She believes the university refusing to acknowledge its error prior to the situation becoming public negatively reflects its character.

In addition, Moone feels that UWM deceives and targets disadvantaged students because a similar case became public shortly after hers.

Cherakei Griffin, a Black female student, sued the Board of Regents and UWM in April 2019 for allegedly charging her out-of-state tuition, despite her being a Wisconsin resident.

In a Feb. 27 court filing, Griffin wrote that Moone received “over 90% of the same discriminatory profiling” as she did, which is “indicative of a serious pattern and practice of racist and sexist discrimination against minority female students.”

Moone believes these incidents serve as further examples of systemic racism within the UW System.

“If you treat one student badly, they can go out and tell a bunch of other people how bad the school is, and really it makes it look like you can’t trust them, that they’re targeting you,” she said.

Moone hopes more students will come forward regarding their experiences with racism within the UW System, and that the System takes concrete steps to eliminate discrimination on its campuses.