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EDI Rapid Action Task Force disagrees with administration decision to reinstate UWEC football players

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Football-Racist-Message-11-20-19

Eau Claire (WQOW) - Members of a UW-Eau Claire task force, formed to reduce acts of racism on campus, said they're disappointed with the administration's decision to reinstate five student football players on the team who created allegedly racist social media posts last November.

"I think the decision to reinstate without accountability is problematic," said Kim Wudi, a co-chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Rapid Action Task Force.

Five UW-Eau Claire football players are allowed to play again after a panel determined some controversial Snapchat messages sent last November were not in violation of the Wisconsin Administrative Code.

"It does indeed send a message that we're not serious. We haven't walked our talk. That's a problem," said Jan Larson, a co-chair of the EDI Rapid Action Task Force.

The task force was formed a few weeks after the initial incident, charged with making recommendations to reduce racism on campus, but they say the panel's decision can embolden further racist acts.

"I think clearly the entire campus community is disappointed with the outcome. I do see that the handling of this particular event weakens the administration's assertion that it itself is committed to doing the work," Larson said.

Wudi said RATF members did not participate in and were not informed of any review or final outcome of the deliberations.

"There doesn't appear to be transparency and I think that that is one of the most difficult things to reconcile in terms of the work that our task force has done. I think that the campus community deserves that transparency from its administration," Wudi said.

City leaders outside the university took notice of the outcome as well. As a woman of color, Eau Claire City Council Member At Large Mai Xiong said the decision shows how little the university values minority and marginalized students.

"This is tokenism," Xiong said. "This is what tokenism looks like, putting band aids on wounds so folks would stop talking about the things, the topics that need to be talked about and need to be addressed."

Larson said as a Rapid Action Task Force, their job is to swoop in, give recommendations, then disburse. So, they are no longer "officially" recognized at the university, but she said their responsibility is not over.

"We're going to continue to work in our various venues whether we're students or faculty or staff. Whatever our role on this campus, we are going to continue to work to support people who are harmed by these kinds of acts," Larson said.

News 18 also reached out to UWEC Chancellor Jim Schmidt for comment.

He referred back to a statement released Tuesday saying although he accepts the ruling of the panel, he said it is not acceptable behavior for Blugolds to act in a racist manner.

Katrina Lim

Katrina Lim joined the News 18 team in August 2019 as a multimedia journalist. She was born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey but has lived in all time zones of the contiguous U.S.A.

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