New Yorker


Just days after condemning the ideologies of white supremacist groups and all groups that express “hatred of people because of their identities,” UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank is appointing a study group to research the history of student involvement with the Ku Klux Klan. 

The study group, which will be co-chaired by Professor Stephen Kantrowitz and Dr. Floyd Rose and include students, faculty, staff and alumni, will begin to study this fall two student organizations from the 1920s that were affiliated with the KKK. 

The ad hoc group is expected to advise UW-Madison administrators in early December 2017 on “how best the campus can acknowledge and respond to this history.” 

Blank’s announcement comes just under a week after UW-Madison administrators issued a joint statement to the campus community condemning the violence that resulted from protests in Charlottesville. 

“The use of violence in the service of racist and anti-Semitic ideology is cowardly and against the ideals this country has fought to preserve for generations,” the statement said. “We unambiguously reject violence and the ideologies of white supremacist groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis that express hatred of people because of their identities. These organizations are antithetical to the values that this campus represents.”

In the statement announcing the formation of the study group, Blank stressed the importance of of acknowledging the school’s history. 

We also need to ensure that how we acknowledge this history reflects our institutional values of respect and inclusion for all people,” Blank said. “This is work we’ve recently undertaken with regards to naming and signage on campus that will reflect the Native history of the lands on which UW–Madison sits.” 

Blank said she will ask the leadership of the Wisconsin Union to identify a space within the union “that could be used to document the history of these student organizations on campus, using the knowledge produced by this study group.”

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