University criticized for hiring counselors 'exclusively' for 'students of color'

One legal organization sent the university a letter demanding that the school modify the roles.

Campus Reform has covered diversity hires and segregated events at this Wisconsin university.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is facing criticism after hiring three mental health counselors to “exclusively serve students of color.” 

After UW-Madison announced the diversity hires on September 9, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) raised concerns over violations of anti-discrimination laws.

In an October 6 letter to the university, WILL stated, 

UW-Madison had updated its announcement October 5 regarding the filled counselor jobs  to being “special expertise addressing issues that students of color often experience.”

The current iteration of the posting reads, “Three of these providers join eight current providers who have special expertise addressing issues that students of color often experience.” 

[RELATED: States are ramping up spending on public universities]

“Four new providers will serve as generalists which are counselors who see clients with a wide range of concerns rather than a specific population,” the description continued. 

Dan Lennington, WILL deputy counsel and the letter’s author, confirmed to Campus Reform that his organization sent the letter “very early in the morning on Oct 6.” and that there was “not any official communication” between the parties before that date. 

”I understand there was a claim the website was updated on the 5th, but I don’t see any record of that. In short, I can’t verify either way whether they changed in response to our letter or not,” Lennington said. 

UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas told Campus Reform, “Mental health providers at University Health Services are not assigned based on a student’s race nor are they limited in which students they serve based on race.”

“Research shows that students from minority backgrounds on college campuses often experience unique stresses,” Lucas said. “Research also shows that clients are more satisfied with counseling when it is provided by a counselor who is culturally responsive.”

University Health Services (UHS) provides a range of “specialty areas,” including counselors with experience in serving LGBT students and international/multilingual individuals.

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: UW-La Crosse shells out $5,000 for speech from transgender activist]

Campus Reform has previously reported on diversity hires and so-called segregated events on the UW-Madison campus. 

In August, Campus Reform reported on 367 “Diversity and Multicultural Affairs” job openings on HigherEd Jobs, which included a job listing for a Chief Diversity Officer, College Of Agricultural & Life Sciences at the Wisconsin university. 

The officer must “create programs that help retain underrepresented students and staff, modify the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences curriculum to be more equitable, and contribute expertise to college committees,” according to the job description. 

In 2017, Campus Reform reported that the Wisconsin school hired a staffer with a “commitment to eradicating oppression” to direct segregated programming for LGBT students of color.