By Emily Lepkowski
Feb. 3, 2016
Whitewater Student Government (WSG) President Allison Hetz addressed the governing body on Feb. 1 following the campus-wide statement sent via email on Dec. 8, 2015 regarding the current campus climate.
“I have seen, heard and felt that our campus climate has not been accurately portrayed or as inclusive as it should be,” Hetz said.
Hetz has yet to mention a specific incident during either her speech or the mass email.
In the email, she reiterated that due to “recent campus events,” students should realize they are all here for a common goal of learning and improving the world and the human condition, calling for students to stand together.
“Intolerance and bigotry will not be tolerated here at UW-Whitewater,” Hetz said.
Hetz proclaimed the “unique mission” as a university that diversity should be respected and fostered on our campus.
Hetz offered her concerns about the occurrences in the statement and offered her peers to reach out to her or WSG in order to help find solutions to these issues.
WSG had also started an Ad-Hoc Safety Committee and new initiative “WSG Cares.” In addition, she encouraged #wsgcares to bring concerns on campus or social media to the government’s immediate attention.
Dealing with campus climate
Hetz represented the Campus Climate Committee as she asked her fellow WSG senators and executive staff what campus climate meant to them, then encouraging them to share experiences they’ve encountered on campus relating to the current campus climate.
Students’ personal accounts ranged from safety on campus to generalizations made based upon race or culture.
Campus climate was also being discussed in WSG cabinet as well as other meetings later this week. Hetz has been reaching out to all of the student groups on campus to hear students’ voice on the issue.
Hetz asked the senators to “only go into specifics” if they were comfortable doing so in order to get an idea of what students think rather than getting into a positive or negative side.
WSG clerk junior Reginald Kirby said he spoke as an African-American student when describing the uncomfortable climate on campus he and his peers experience.
“I don’t feel safe anymore on campus,” Kirby said. “When you have certain things like [students] coming to you and expressing how on their boards in the residence hall ‘ni***r’ is written, or how there’s a video going around on Snapchat in Whitewater with people saying, ‘ni***r, ni***r, ni***r’ … people ask them to take it down, and they refuse to take it down. As someone that’s black, I find that offensive.”