Open letter calls for action to protect Asian students after attack near UW-Madison

By: - June 22, 2022 5:39 am

Bascom Hall, completed 1849, on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison | Richard Hurd CC BY 2.0

An open letter signed by hundreds of current and former students, faculty and staff at UW-Madison calls for more action from university leaders after an attack on an international doctoral student last week. 

The student was attacked last Tuesday, June 14, while walking near campus. According to an incident report from the Madison Police Department, a group of men knocked the student to the ground where they continued to punch and kick the student. The student told police nothing was taken. 

The police report also notes that “this is the third battery of this type to occur in the downtown area within the past two weeks. The investigations appear to show these attacks were random in nature.” 

On Saturday, MPD announced it had arrested four people connected with the attack, including a 15-year-old. 

In the initial report, MPD said there was “no information that leads them to believe this attack is racially motivated at this time.” 

A statement from UW-Madison administration two days after the attack said that the university was dedicated to creating an inclusive environment for all students. 

“We are aware that in recent years these communities have faced increased threats to their safety, well-being, and sense of belonging,” the release stated. “We recognize the safety concerns and trauma these actions may cause, and will continue to work to create safe, equitable and inclusive working, living, and learning environments.” 

A day later, the university issued a statement saying that initial investigation showed the attack didn’t appear to be racially motivated, but that creating a safe community is still a priority. 

“While we don’t have evidence these incidents were motivated by race, we know that each time incidents like these occur, it has an impact on the well-being of all our students, and particularly our Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American students, faculty, and staff, and other communities of color,” the university stated. “We are committed to creating a safe community at UW–Madison where everyone feels they belong, and we know we have more work to do.” 

Following the conclusion that the attack wasn’t racially motivated, the group of Asian students, faculty and staff penned the letter, urging the campus police department, MPD and the Dane County District Attorney’s Office to investigate further. 

“We call on the University to communicate with University Police, Madison Police, and Dane County District Attorney’s Office and urge them to investigate the case more thoroughly, fairly, and swiftly,” the letter states. “We demand immediate clarification, apologies from the responsible administrators regarding this judgment, and update this judgment.” 

The letter also requests a number of actions for university administrators to take to make the campus a more welcoming environment, including a plan to prevent such attacks in the future; a designated point of contact for Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Desi Americans at the school and mandatory training for students on diversity, equity and inclusion. 


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.