The University of Wisconsin-Madison has apologized for a homecoming video that featured almost all white students.
The now-deleted video, which was created by the university’s homecoming committee and released Sunday on Facebook, prompted criticism from current and former students who noted that the “underrepresented populations” the video references had been left out of the recording entirely.
“To promote student homecoming, we recently produced a video called ‘Home is where Wi Are,’ and we invited various student groups to participate in the video,” the committee said in a statement Monday. “Unfortunately, not all the video images produced were included in the final product, including those of students from under represented populations.”
Payton Wade, a senior at the university, said that she was disappointed but not surprised. Wade said in social media posts that she and other members of the historically black sorority she is a part of were asked to participate in the video.
“Not only did we tell them what we thought home was but we also took hours out of our day to film as well and were told we would be in the video and notified when it was completed,” Wade wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.
“Being Black at this school is a daily struggle both mentally and physically,” she wrote. “It is hard to have pride for a school where you know you are not wanted and where they obviously do not consider this our home as well.”
Wade posted a recording of the video on Twitter.
Anthony Wright, who graduated from UW-Madison in 2015, also blasted the video in a series of tweets Monday.
“Y’all can’t hire folks who are doing the editing and outreach that maybe share some of the identities missing from this video who could call out how this missed the mark?” he wrote in a tweet. “Is your staff diverse? Even if they aren’t, shouldn’t we be able to see this video isn’t?”
The university and the Wisconsin Alumni Association, which sponsors the homecoming committee, apologized to students and alumni in separate statements Monday for what they described as the video’s partial representation of the UW-Madison student body, which as of fall 2018 was 70 percent white.
“We know that, both historically and today, students of color and other under-represented groups do not feel as welcome on our campus as majority students,” the university said in a statement posted to its website. “As a community, we must commit to and invest in ways to change this.”
One way to do so, the university said, “is to ensure active participation and authentic involvement by Badgers of many different identities in all aspects of campus life.”
“The student committee took down the video after the concerns were raised and the committee and the association have apologized,” the university said. “We, too, are sorry for the pain this has caused.”
The university said “we also understand the need for action on these issues and will be engaging with students about the work that we need to do as a campus community.”