The Steering Committee on Minority Affairs
In 1987, students, faculty, and staff formed the Steering Committee on Minority Affairs. They hoped to formally urge university administrators to enact changes to combat rampant racism and discrimination on campus. The committee published the Final Report of the Steering Committee on Minority Affairs in November 1987. It was nicknamed the “Holley Report” after student member and co-president of the Wisconsin Black Student Union Charles Holley. The report stated that the UW’s previous attempts at addressing discrimination and diversity were ineffectual. They proposed nine changes to address racial and ethnic disparities. Among those recommendations were the appointment of a vice chancellor of minority affairs, establishment of a multicultural center, requirement of six credits of ethnic studies for all students, and the development of a relationship between the university and Madison’s communities of color.
Newly appointed Chancellor Donna Shalala heavily criticized the report, calling it “separatist” in nature and arguing that its recommendations would not sustain lasting change at the university. In February 1988, less than one month after she began as chancellor, Shalala side-stepped the recommendations of the Steering Committee on Minority Affairs. Instead, she released her own plan, the Madison Plan, which became the university’s first formal diversity plan. Discrimination and racist activities and events continued to occur. Without evidence of how the plan bettered the lives of marginalized students, faculty, and staff, many were hesitant to view the initiative as successful. Subsequent institutional diversity plans have faced similar scrutiny, and many of the issues that inspired the Madison Plan continue to affect campus.
In November 1988, students from the Minority Coalition sent a list of demands to Chancellor Donna Shalala to address instances of racism and sexism on campus. Download and read the Minority Coalition’s 10-point plan of action (PDF).