Steenbock Response to Welcome Week Event Concerns

October 16th, 2017

We have recently received feedback about some photos of past Steenbock Library Welcome Week events posted on our social media channels. In response, we have re-opened a conversation about this issue and want to take action to address these concerns and to help us all learn from and avoid similar situations in the future.

Since 2011 Steenbock Library has held a Welcome Week event each fall intended to greet incoming students and to promote the library and other campus resources. For three of these years a luau theme was used for the event. In hindsight, we recognized that the theme and use of related traditional symbols at a beach party themed event were examples of cultural appropriation which set a disrespectful and offensive tone. Therefore, we discontinued the theme.

We sincerely apologize for any offense we may have caused either through the events themselves or the remaining photos. We are working on removing photos of these events from our social media channels and will be finding ways for staff to continue the conversation in the coming weeks to better understanding and learn from this experience. Steenbock Library and all UW-Madison Libraries are dedicated to the practices of social justice, diversity, and equality among our staff, students, collections, and services. Please contact Diversity, Inclusion, Equity at Science and Engineering Libraries (DIESEL) if you have questions, suggestions, or concerns: diesel@lists.wisc.edu