The University of Wisconsin at Madison experienced some diversity turbulence last fall when its homecoming committee produced a promotional video that “showed students — almost all of them white — cheering at football games, eating pizza, dancing, and singing a cappella” (Chronicle of Higher Education, January 2, 2020).
Unfortunately, the Badgers can’t seem to get out of their own way. On Monday, it was revealed that a recruitment brochure devoted to the University’s undergraduate major in Cheese Studies only displayed photos of American cheese slices that were white or orange.
“This is an outrage,” claims Wenona Stemwinder, co-chair of the Student Dairy Coalition, an advocacy group on campus that addresses cow-related issues. “Couldn’t the University’s PR Department have put together a brochure that more fully reflects the incredibly rich tapestry of cheese in today’s world? Let’s face it, a slab of American white cheese is basically a Ku Klux Klan robe in edible form. And what says “I love Donald Trump” more than orange cheese?
“Why couldn’t there have been at least one photo of a wedge of bleu cheese, or was this cheese’s mixed color deemed to be too multi-racial for our uptight University Administration? And what about Velveeta and Cheez Whiz? Are those varieties too ‘low-class’ for our snooty campus? Hell, people in this state inhale fried cheese curds, the most disgusting food on the planet!
“Of course, a photo of Swiss cheese would have been out of the question, since the holes might remind us of the frayed social fabric that deepening economic inequality has wrought upon our nation. When will the Cheese Studies major at the University of Wisconsin begin pursuing a path of social justice, rather than continuing to serve as an instrument of oppression?”
The Chancellor’s office at the University has not responded in detail to the recent controversy, but it did release a statement on Tuesday stating that “the University of Wisconsin at Madison is committed to offering a Cheese Studies major that welcomes all students who wish to utilize their passion for cheese as a means of advancing the public interest. Access to high-quality cheese products should be everyone’s birthright, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin.”
Amen to that, and may the Havarti be with you.