Eau Claire (WQOW) - A panel has found five students not responsible for any violations of the Wisconsin Administrative Code after an investigation into racist social media posts.
The panel of faculty, staff and students were investigating the November 2019 posts made by five UW-Eau Claire football players to determine if there were any violations of the Wisconsin Administrative Code UWS 17.
In a statement sent to News 18 UWEC Chancellor Jim Schmidt said, “While we accept the ruling of the panel, it is NOT acceptable behavior for Blugolds to act in a racist manner.
“I know we are – and can – be better. The football team faces the hard work of rebuilding trust; the faculty, staff and students of this university must take on that challenge. I will continue to work with the entire community to ensure that this incident is the exception, and not the norm."
“The recommendation from this spring’s Rapid Action Task Force for pursuing restorative justice is guidance we’re following, especially in this case.
‘Because UW-Eau Claire is an institution of higher learning, the philosophy of restorative justice—which focuses on healing for the victims, repairing the harm to the community, and providing an opportunity for the offender to accept responsibility for their actions and learn from their failures—is more congruent than retributive justice to our mission. For all these reasons, the Rapid Action Task Force recommends implementing a restorative justice program as the best way to heal the campus and to seek justice in response to past and future acts of injustice.’
“Restorative justice is the approach that we will follow as we continue to have the difficult discussions and action for change that are required. I ask the entire University community to join me in this important work.”
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion and Student Affairs, Warren Anderson outlined how the university will move forward. Including a external review of the climate in Intercollegiate Athletics at UW-Eau Claire including a review of athletics' policies, practices and procedures.
Both the Blugold Football Coach, Wesley Beschorner and Athletic Director Dan Schumacher also making a statement:
“The actions and statements by these five men that were made public in November 2019 are not conducive to promoting an environment of unity and inclusion within our football team," said Beschorner.
"While the context of the “Snapchat Case” is up for interpretation and we feel no personal malice towards those involved, the imagery and verbiage used in this incident were appalling. Based on the outcome of the judicial process, these five men will be allowed back on the team roster. We have strongly urged them to participate in restorative justice activities if they want to truly be part of our team. We are committed to fighting racism through education and action.”
Schumacher echoing the statement of the actions by the football players unacceptable, “I have always respected and followed the policies and procedures of the University. The actions of five student-athletes was unacceptable and destructive to our football program, athletic department and university. "
His statement finished by saying: "It is a privilege, not a right, to be a college student-athlete. We must move forward, must learn from it, become stronger for it.”