Students say UW-Madison is excluding and unwelcoming to Hmong-American students

HMONG students.jpg

MADISON, Wis. - A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students conducted a study that found Hmong-American students feel invisible on campus.

"UW-Madison as an institution is excluding and unwelcoming to Hmong-American students," said student Pakou Xiong.

Xiong is reportedly one of many who feel this way.

"The university needs to address the racial inequalities that are happening here as well," said UW-Madison student Pangzoo Lee, who is a vocal activist behind the study.

"This invisibility is preventing Hmong-American students from being successful," Lee said. "It shows the university is not well-equipped to support Hmong-American students."

The students who conducted the study found that Hmong-Americans make up the largest portion of the Asian population, at 36 percent. While Asians are a minority group in Wisconsin, they say that on campus, they can feel this a bit more.

Some students reported other students have acted out in microaggressions such as speaking slowly them. Many reported feeling that they aren't included in many campus activities and events.

One quote presented on Friday to a group of students and staff read: "White people have a place all over campus, and then students of color have the Red Gym, each other's houses and classes that are made for their people. I don't think Madison is welcoming to any student of color, especially if you're an ethnic minority. Do we have welcoming spaces? Yes. Welcoming people? Yes. But as a whole? No."

Students say that in the map shown above, the red circles mark areas where many school activities take place. Hmong-American students reportedly avoid those areas during the events, saying they feel marginalized much of the time.

"Hmong-American students feel excluded in many of the spaces of the iconic Badger experience," Lee said.

Students were able to suggest possible actions the university could take, citing things such as having more inclusive clubs, educating more people outside the Hmong community about Hmong culture and creating an environment of understanding and compassion for the Hmong-American students who feel excluded.

"It is not a story of its own. It's part of a larger story," Lee said. "It is the continuation of our families' trauma, displacement and resilience."