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Engagement, Inclusion & Diversity at the Union

The Wisconsin Union has a dedicated Council to address ongoing engagement, inclusion and diversity (E.I.D.) efforts.

To be the curators of and catalysts for creating a more diverse and inclusive culture at the Wisconsin Union.

Mobilizing professional and student staff in creating substantial and lasting organizational change that celebrates diversity, embraces inclusion, and engages all employees.


  • Commitment.  We are committed to furthering E.I.D. initiatives within the Wisconsin Union.
  • Understanding. We will work to increase levels of awareness and understanding of individuals and communities.
  • Respect.  We honor the viewpoints and experiences of all.
  • Transparency. We are open and candid about the work we are doing and why we are doing it.
  • People-centered.  We recognize that our human capital is our most important asset and initiatives will consider people first.

Current Council Members
Susan Dibbell
Timeka Rumph
Rod Rotar
Stephanie Diaz De Leon
Jen Snyder
Jacob Hahn
Courtney Byelich
Dee Hughes
Kelly O’Loughlin


Fall Gathering 2016: Questions & Suggestions

Will there be a response from the Union about the Camp Randall incident? Review of policies?

Yes, the Union President Deshawn McKinney sent a response to the media, Union staff and students on November 4th.  A copy of the letter is below:

                Yes, Union staff, students, members of Union Council and campus colleagues started a review of existing policies & procedures on November 18th.  This site will be updated as decisions are made.

            November 4, 2016

No degree is worth one's dignity, yet it seems Black students are continuously asked to sacrifice theirs.

By now, we all know the story well. Last Saturday. Badger football. White men lynching our Black president. It is deemed free speech. Given that the university has publicly committed to taking steps to improve its policy regarding free speech, I questioned whether or not a statement from me, as Wisconsin Union President, was necessary. I am deciding to speak now because of what the Union is: the place on campus that welcomes everyone as if in their own living room. What we provide is space, service, and activity for all students, so I would be remiss to ignore events that have such a negative impact and demonstrate a tolerance for an environment that is less welcoming for one portion of the student body over another.

Do better, UW. It is as simple and as complex as that. This campus is not fulfilling its ideals so long as Black bodies can be noosed without consequence. This campus is not fulfilling its ideals when scores of Black students focus on surviving, on getting the degree and getting gone because of the tremendous pressures they face above and beyond succeeding in the classroom. This school and its students are citizens of a larger world, yes, but we must not be complacent in allowing the evils to roam freely here. This year, the student leaders that comprise the Wisconsin Union Directorate make it one of the most diverse student leadership teams in the Union’s near century long history, and we are all committed to making our spaces and events open, safe, and

welcoming for all students, from all backgrounds. We cannot fulfill our mission if we are silent when issues like this crop up, and so we will not be.

We also want to use this time to remind students of our power. This university is ours. That is a message to everyone – to those like myself on scholarship, to those struggling to find their place, to those from small towns, and those from large cities, to athletes, to gamers, to international students and beyond. This is ours, all of it. Be firm in laying claim. I have wielded my power over the years to make change at this university, to push, and I have been thrilled to see many other students do the same. I have been thrilled to watch student leaders in the Union undertaking that work, having the difficult conversations and being willing to learn and grow through it all. Let us continue in those fights when and where necessary.

I will end by saying that I know Chancellor Blank. We have had correspondence, meetings, and even dinners together. We have always had positive interactions. I have not had the opportunity to meet Athletic Director Alvarez, but I still expect and would give the same modicum of respect to him nonetheless. As a Black man in these United States, I know how close the noose is to my neck. Some nights I can feel it tightening, those nights when bodies become hashtags and everything starts to close in, when I'm expected to prioritize research papers over the injustice I see happening in Milwaukee, the city I rep and love deeply. We carry that weight. The outpouring of sadness, anger, and disgust at the university's response to the incident was justified. We walk with history at our backs, and there is no way for us to ignore it. Thank you to everyone in the community and around the country who has stood in solidarity with students on this issue. Thank you

for raising your voices to elevate the message. Do better UW, for you can only misstep so many times before it feels intentional.

The noose never was, is, or will be free. Remember that.

Deshawn McKinney

Wisconsin Union President

Marketing more of the EID Council to students would be great. Would be great to have student more involved.

Agree. The focus of our Council however is on Union staff but we recognize the student-staff partnership here at the WU.  That is why members of the WU EID Council attended the SEAG Open Forum on November and provided an overview of the committee’s work.  The focus of the Open Forum was on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.  There was training on Micro-aggressions. 

 Members of the EID Council will also be attending a meeting with Building Managers in early December.

EID is a Muslim Holiday. Maybe a new name?

Yes, great suggestion.  At our next meeting on November 29th this will be an agenda item.

Improve Supervisor Office of Talent Management Training (required for all).

Not within the scope of our work but we are working on training opportunities for our staff.

Make transparent all employees’ wages and pay increase plans.

As was mentioned at the Spring Gathering in 2016, the Union has committed to reviewing pay twice a year.  In fall, the Leadership Team will look at compression among the staff and will adjust pay as the budget allows.  In spring, a merit exercise will be conducted as the budget allows.

Salaries for UW-Madison employees is public information.

What are the open discussions planned for spring? How do you plan to get pre-event input from others?

The VCFA EID Council is planning some conversations and when we know more we will get the word out to WU employees.  Additionally, the Union’s Council has discussed some small group work next spring as well.  We will update this site.

Updates from the last EID survey? How is the survey being used?

Great question.  The EID survey data was sent to members of Leadership Team last March and they were asked to share with their staff.  Members of the EID Council are currently reviewing the data along with assistance from staff in the UW Office of Human Resources.

Is the WU planning to create a toolkit for our staff and students?

Great suggestion. Yes, our goal is to add resources to this website.  Check back with us.

Work on increasing the openness to diversity in the Union (i.e. health rooms, gender-neutral rooms, open discussions, etc.)

Yes, this is continual work.  We are open to suggestions when you have them. We are attempted to be more responsive to events that impact the Union family.
There will be a health room on the 1st floor of Memorial Union when it opens later this fall.
The Leadership Team and the Union Council Facilities Committee is reviewing our all-inclusive restrooms. 

The WUD Music Committee has requested, on occasion, that the restrooms on the 1st floor closest to the Sett be All-Inclusive.  There is talk of doing this for all Music Shows and potentially making this change permanent. 

Related, there is now a Reflection Room on the 3rd floor of Union South—formerly the Forward Room.  

Create a website where people can enter concerns and questions throughout the year.

Concerns should be reported to the WU Human Resources Office, your supervisor or any member of Leadership Team.  The campus is working on a Bias Reporting system for employees.  There is a process for students however.

                On August 15, 2106 Susan Dibbell sent an email to WU staff and students regarding recent incidents of cyber-attacks.  A copy is below:

This summer some of our staff were unfortunately the victims of cyber-attacks.  Specifically, hateful and racist flyers were sent to various printers across campus including Union South and Memorial Union and a student’s email was hacked in an attempt to extort money.  The incidents that occurred this summer were traced to locations outside the United States.

If you encounter an incident you perceive to be a hate/bias incident or if your email is hacked, please contact your direct supervisor immediately.  Or if you prefer contact our Human Resources Office directly at 608-263-3939 or after hours call Tim Borchert at 608-263-3936 (tborchert@wisc.edu).

Kevin Breese, our Information Technology Director, is working closely with staff at DoIt to prevent these kinds of attacks from happening in the future.

In addition to reporting the incident I want you to also get the support you need.  Self-care is critical.  If you would like to speak to someone please contact Employee Assistance at 263-2987 or email them at eao@mailplus.wisc.edu

For our students, please seek support at University Health Services at 608-265-6500 or visit uhs.wisc.edu

If you have any questions or concerns please contact me via email at susan.dibbell@wisc.edu, via phone at 263-4009 or stop in my office in Memorial Union 5195K.

And on May 16, 2016, the Union’s HR Director sent the memo below to Union staff:

Memo:  Union Staff and Students

From:   Tim Borchert, Human Resources Director

Re: How to Handle Potential Hate/Bias Issues

Date:    May 16, 2016

The purpose of this memo is to clarify the roles and responsibility we have, and how to report, potential hate/bias issues.

The Wisconsin Union is dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming place of work for all our employees, as well as for our members and guests. To this end, we all need to shoulder the responsibility of identifying issues of hate or bias and actively address them. You can do your part by understanding the process for reporting such issues, and then taking action if you see them.

Should you encounter an incident that you perceive to be a hate/bias Incident, you have several methods of recourse and ways to alert the Wisconsin Union, and the University, of the offense.

First, please contact your direct supervisor. They will ensure that the information goes through the chain of supervision to our Human Resources office. Should your direct supervisor be unavailable or if you prefer to contact HR yourself, please report it directly to our HR office at 608.263.3939, or after hours at 608.263.3936 (tborchert@wisc.edu). 

You may also choose to report it to the Office of Equity and Diversity (Carl Hampton 608.890.1383). You can report it and they will send you a form to fill out, which can be done on work time in agreement with your supervisor. Please note that the OED will not formally investigate until a form is filled out. If we find a hate/bias incident and the employee chooses not to fill out the form, the Wisconsin Union will report it to OED.  

Can I report this confidentially? For any such incident, we will attempt to maintain full confidentiality, however please note that in order for the Wisconsin Union, or University to address the issue fully, we need to have full facts, and therefore may need to contact you. You may still choose to report issues anonymously.

If you have ANY questions or concerns about YOUR role and responsibility in this situation, please contact your supervisor, the human resources contacts listed above, or the Office of Equity and Diversity.

Do the students know about EID?

We are working on this. The focus of our Council however is on Union staff but we recognize the student-staff partnership here at the WU.  The Student Employee Advisory Group (SEAG) however has made EID a priority for them this year.  That is why members of the WU EID Council attended the SEAG Open Forum on November and provided an overview of the committee’s work.  The focus of the Open Forum was on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.  There was training on Micro-aggressions. 

Members of the EID Council will also be attending a meeting with Building Managers in early December.

The WU’s EID Mission, Vision and Values were also shared this fall with Union Council which has a student majority.

I want to do more for peers but don’t know where to start.

Wonderful.  Our goal is to add a Tool Kit to this site so check that out.  Some ideas for you include:

How are recipients for the Union Awards selected?

There is a nominations process and anyone can nominate themselves or their colleagues.  A committee of past award winners select from the nominations.