LA CROSSE, Wis. - A hate and bias response symposium at UW-La Crosse is looking at ways to address recent racial incidents on campus.
Representatives from other UW schools, as well as area businesses were on hand Tuesday to talk about ways to better respond to hate and bias incidents on campus.
While they say these conversations are not easy to have, organizers say they are necessary to make progress.
Jamie Capetillo is a fifth-year senior at UW-La Crosse. While she has grown to love the La Crosse community, she herself has experienced racism around campus.
"I've had trucks yell out the N-word at me and my friends,” Capetillo said. “I've had people tell us to go home."
She believes the campus climate doesn't reflect the community as a whole.
"When people are shouting things out like that out of their trucks or sending messages like that, writing on people's homes, it tells us that we don't belong here," Capetillo said.
"Certainly some of the more bold situations have been really, really disheartening,” said event organizer Amanda Goodenough.
Her campus climate organization also runs the program that collects hate and bias reports on campus.
According to Goodenough, this past fall semester around 90 hate and bias events were reported, which was a slight increase over the last year.
"The week after the election we saw our hate and bias incident report triple,” Goodenough said.
It's why she and others hope this symposium can bring similar groups from other campuses together to find solutions.
"Everything from how to form a hate and bias response team,” Goodenough said. “How to make our teams or our reporting forms more effective. What are people struggling with? What are our successes?"
Both organizers and students say it's a necessary discussion, one that requires everyone to come to the table.
"It's challenging and it's hard, but I think the work is important and has to be done, and I do think it makes a difference,” Goodenough said.
"We need other people to extend out and join us in these conversations,” Capetillo said.
The event included a panel of speakers who talked abou the challenges that face hate and bias response groups on campus.
At the end of the day, a panel of students were on hand to speak about their experiences with hate and bias on campus.
Campus police also took part in Tuesday's event to talk about race relations and local police.
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