In 2000 Diallo Shabazz, a Black student and staff member of the Multicultural Student Center (MSC), discovered a photo of himself on the front page of the annual admissions brochure, smiling in the crowd at a UW football game. Shabazz immediately knew something was wrong. He had never attended a football game. Administrators from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment doctored the photo to include Shabazz and make the crowd look more diverse. Shabazz noted that the admissions office was merely two stories up in the same building where he worked.
The controversy garnered national attention and prompted students on campus to organize and call out the university’s “lack of understanding of diversity.” Students of color were quick to note that the UW’s image of itself as a diverse university did not match the experiences of students on campus.
Admissions Director Rob Seltzer, who approved altering the photo, and Al Friedman, director of University Publications, publicly apologized to Shabazz and the UW community. Paul Barrows, vice chancellor of student affairs, called it an “error of judgment.” Barrows revealed it was vital for the university to address the faked admissions packets quickly “because we are in the heat of a very competitive admissions cycle and I don’t want to lose any time.” University spokesperson Patrick Strickler said that all 110,000 brochures would be reprinted with a different cover that would no longer display Shabazz.