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University of Wisconsin–Madison

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Help us Celebrate Black History Month

With so many incredible Black History Month events over here in Madison, it’s important to dive into more information about this celebratory month.

Black History month has been recognized in the United States by every U.S. president since 1976. Other countries have followed in our footsteps and also designated a month to celebrating black history. Black History Month focuses on the achievements by African Americans and their crucial roles in our own history.

Every year, the current U.S. president endorses a theme to accompany that current Black History Month. The theme for this year is “African Americans in Times of War,” and marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, honoring the pivotal roles of African Americans in wars beginning with the American Revolution up until the present day.

Come help us celebrate Black History Month by attending some of UW’s exciting events! (Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a busy calendar of events celebrating Black History Month. Some of the events to come include:

  • An open house at the Wisconsin Historical Society, where powerful events will be told through historical objects, artifacts, and documents alongside contemporary performances and presentation
  • A screening of Marvel’s “Black Panther”
  • A student luncheon with Dr. Cerise Elliot
  • The African Students Association annual dating for charity

…and that’s just this week! Our calendar is jam-packed with exciting events to honor Black History Month.

If you have some time to spare, be sure to check out some of the events!

 

“Bizarre” World: The Impact of Higher Education on First-Generation Students

Every environment has its niche. Whether that be understanding how you (and your face) should respond to Mac Dre in the Bay Area, the importance of the question What part? whenever someone claims they are from Chicago but actually mean the Chicagoland Area (I’m looking at you, Evanston), or even the way that UW-Madison has changed the way that you, a student, experience the words bag, bagel, or vague as they fall from the mouths of your Upper-Midwestern peers.

“I had learned much about law at Yale. But I’d also learned that this new world would always seem a bit foreign to me.” — J.D. Vance

Institutions of higher education can provide an opportunity to interact and learn with folks through individualized, unique perspectives. However, when a campus or institution is grounded within homogeneous cultures and people, any person whose identities counter this homogeneity finds that their experience in the realm of higher education becomes a starkly different experience than that of their peers. First-generation college students, much like J.D. Vance, are well aware of the “bizarre social rituals” (Vance 202) that are embedded into the fabric of higher education deeper than the patchwork of a college apparel crew-neck. In Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, Vance explains, “I had learned much about law at Yale. But I’d also learned that this new world would always seem a bit foreign to me” (Vance 234).

According to a Quartz article from 2015, first-generation students also tend to experience significant psychological ramifications within the world of higher education. Despite roughly 20% of all undergraduate students attending a four year public or private college or university being considered first-generation students, the disconnect between the student, the family, and the institution still remains. First-gen students often experience a sense of guilt in their ability to pursue the education and opportunities that others in their family were unable to follow, a phenomena called “breakaway guilt.” These factors of psychological stress are further heightened through the reality that first-generation students are more likely, about 50%, to be low-income students, and are also more likely to be “a member of a racial or ethnic minority group.”

(Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Understandably, first-generation students have varying experiences. However, there are “four distinct domains” of difficulty for folks who fall into this category: professional, financial, psychological, and academic. First-generation students are important in the world of higher education, and the acknowledgement of this sector of students within these institutions is also vital. As Vance mentions in Hillbilly Elegy, the experience of a first-generation student is often rooted in the hyper-self-awareness of social factors and expectations that are carried along with them from the first day of class straight through to graduation.

“Sometimes it’s easier knowing that the statistics suggest I should be in jail or fathering my fourth illegitimate child. And sometimes it’s harder — conflict and family breakdowns seems like the destiny I can’t possibly escape.”
—J.D. Vance

The Opioid Epidemic Hits Close to Home

We’ve discussed the opioid epidemic several times- whether it be on a national level, looking more closely at Hillbilly Elegy, or hearing more about it at the Keynote Event last month.

The opioid epidemic has also caught the attention of Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker, but there has been another group in the Madison area that has been focusing on this problem for years.

The opioid epidemic has been affecting the Madison community. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

In a recent article following the progress of this group, it revealed that Safe Communities recognized this detrimental problem in Wisconsin as early as five years ago. They have increased the number of MedDrop boxes in the past several years, which has shown to be a huge help in recovering old medication.

Safe Communities also helped launch the recovery coach program and are hoping to expand it outside of SSM Health’s St. Mary’s.

Safe Communities is located right in the Madison area. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

“They know about the pain and they know sort of how low people can feel and then, how hopeful they can be,” Cheryl Wittke, Safe Communities executive director, noted. “Having that message has made a big difference and we’ve seen 90 percent of folks who are going through that process sign up for treatment.”

While a lot has been accomplished to recognize there is a problem, Wittke believes there is a lot that still needs to be done.

“There’s a lot more to be done and things are not good. We’re not seeing a reduction in overdose deaths currently. I guess maybe the good news is we’ve seen a slowing in the rate of increase,” Wittke said.

There was a Stop the Overdose Summit on November 6th that created a to-do list and new goals for the upcoming months.

To learn more about how to combat the opioid epidemic in Madison, feel free to check out the Safe Communities website.

Go Big Read Program now Accepting Book Suggestions

It’s that time of the year again… the Go Big Read Program will now be taking suggestions for the 2018-2019 Go Big Read book!

Starting in 2009, The Go Big Read Program has grown immensely and allows for both UW-Madison students and the Madison community to spark discussions around the selected book.

An array of past Go Big Read book selections. We have come a long way!

Title suggestions for the book will be accepted through Dec. 15, when a review committee will take all suggestions into consideration before handing recommendations off to Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who makes the final decision.

The ideal selection should have the following qualities:

  • Be readable, relevant, engaging and well written.
  • Appeal to people with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
  • Encompass sufficient depth and scope to generate discussions from different points of view.
  • Be conducive to teaching and learning, and offer opportunities for integration into academic programs.
  • Lend itself to a variety of activities and programming.

The selection could be both fiction or non-fiction, preferably published within the past five years. Although some book selections, such as “Evicted” two years ago, have been Wisconsin-focused, that is not a requirement.

You can submit a book suggestion through the Go Big Read website.

Book suggestions can be made through the Go Big Read website.

The Go Big Read program looks forward to seeing what suggestions you can come up with!

 

Childhood Trauma and its Potentially Detrimental Effects

“‘Chaotic — there is no other way to describe my childhood. I always felt alone.’”

Rob Sullivan, now an adult, still remembers the traumatic events from his childhood that impact him every day. In an interview with the New York Times, Sullivan discusses how the trauma in his life as a child has led him to hardships in his adulthood.

Running into trouble with the law as an adult, Sullivan believes that he is responsible for making bad decisions in his own life, although experts claim that this troubling path may begin long before the individual recognizes it.

What happens to a child in their youth can affect their decisions as an adult- whether that be ending up in prison or even their overall cognitive functioning.

“’Childhood trauma is a huge factor within the criminal justice system,’” said Christopher Wildeman, a sociologist at Cornell University and co-director of the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect. “’It is among the most important things that shapes addictive and criminal behavior in adulthood.’”

As seen in Hillbilly Elegy, author J.D. Vance describes traumatic events of his own childhood that still affect him and his relationships today.

“In my worst moments, I convince myself that there is no exit, and no matter how much I fight old demons, they are as much an inheritance as my blue eyes or brown hair” (230).

Author J.D. Vance pictured with his grandmother. CC Image Courtesy of the J.D. Vance website.

Childhood trauma affects everyone differently, but for both Sullivan and Vance, the troubling memories from their childhood do not fade away with age.

Both Sullivan and Vance completed questionnaires that measured the degree of childhood trauma, criteria including physical and verbal abuse, abandonment, and several others, and the two of them scored relatively high.

In Sullivan’s case, there have been many connections to those in prison and their experiences with childhood trauma.

New York Times study followed 10 newly released prisoners in Connecticut for a year, Sullivan being one of them. A look at their histories demonstrated that before they were prisoners, many of them were victims of abuse.

Seven of those 10 completed a questionnaire to quantify the level of childhood trauma they experienced, and all but one scored four or more, indicating a high degree of trauma and an elevated risk for chronic diseases, depression, substance abuse, and violence.

Although traumatic childhood experiences affect individuals differently throughout their lifetime, most adults remember many of the traumatic events they experienced. For Sullivan, he has run into trouble following some patterns of previous family members, such as substance abuse and prison. Although it is a grueling process, he hopes to turn his life around for the better.

Child trauma affects the lives of many adults today. CC Image Courtesy of Pixabay.

“’I have never followed through on anything in my life,’” he said, tears in his eyes. “’It’s hard. I know if I end up back in the streets I will end up drinking and using again.’”

Undoubtedly, childhood trauma has been scientifically proven to affect individuals in their adult years. It will be interesting to see what kind of continued discoveries we will read about childhood trauma moving forward and possible solutions for this serious issue.

The Wisconsin Book Festival is Here!

The time has come, folks- the Wisconsin Book Festival starts today!

It’s the 15th Anniversary for the Wisconsin Book Festival, and the schedule is set. There are a plethora of events planned for this four day celebration, centered at Madison Public Library.

Conor Moran, the Festival Director, is especially excited about the kinds of discussions that many will hold close to their heart- whether it be race, immigration, climate change, or gender equality. This fall’s lineup has something for everyone!

The Wisconsin Book Festival is a large part of the Madison community, hosting events not only in the fall, but all year long. Some of its partners include Ian’s Pizza, A Room of One’s Own Bookstore, and of course Go Big Read!

Originally, the festival started as just a four-day event, but has seen a monstrous amount of growth ever since. The festival now holds events throughout the entire year. Both local authors and national writers will be in attendance. Over the next four days, approximately 70 authors will be in attendance. Amy Goldstein, the author of Janesville: An American Story is one of the most anticipated authors for many of the Wisconsin Book Festival attendees.

Come check out the Wisconsin Book Festival from 11/2-11/5. CC Image Courtesy of the Madison Public Library website.

There’s books and discussions for everyone to engage with. Genres range from poetry to STEM and provide books for all ages.

For a list of authors and the full schedule, check out their website.

It’s bound to be an exciting weekend for us bookworms!

 

 

Go Big Read Book Fairy Giveaway

Keep your eyes peeled around campus these next couple of weeks- the Go Big Read team will be giving away a limited number of copies of Hillbilly Elegy!

Copies of Hillbilly Elegy will be left around the Madison area, especially places on campus that have shown the Go Big Read Program support. There are only a limited number of copies available, so follow our social media (@GoBigRead or Go Big Read on Facebook) to keep up with clues as to where we have left them!

Look for this Go Big Read tag… if you found one, you’re in luck!

The books will be wrapped in red and white ribbon (always representing UW-Madison colors, of course), and will be attached with a Go Big Read tag. If you’ve found one of these, you’re in luck! The book is yours to keep.

Starting next week, Go Big Read team members will start to leave copies of Hillbilly Elegy around campus. Keep your eyes peeled for clues!

We were inspired by the lovely Emma Watson and her book fairy project several months ago in support of International Women’s Day.

Emma Watson hand delivered books to special places. We’re about to follow in her footsteps! CC Image Courtesy of Emma Watson’s Twitter page.

With a limited amount of books to spare, the Go Big Read team wanted to give them away in a fun way. What’s better than stumbling upon a free copy of Hillbilly Elegy after a long walk up Bascom? It could be you!

Stay tuned to hear more, and keep an eye out on our social media for clues about where the books will be! It all starts next week!

 

Capitol Lakes’ Captivating Hillbilly Elegy Exhibit

The Go Big Read team was extremely grateful to have residents of Capitol Lakes contribute a Hillbilly Elegy exhibit. We couldn’t have done it any better ourselves!

The exhibit was shown outside the doors to Shannon Hall last Monday.

Although the exhibit mainly focused on the present Go Big Read book, Hillbilly Elegy, past Go Big Read picks were displayed in the exhibit as well. They can be seen at the bottom of the display, including old promotional posters for several of the books. It’s exciting to see the transformation from year to year!

A close up of the exhibit. This part shown mainly focuses on Hillbilly Elegy themes and details.

Certain aspects of the exhibit, like the image shown above, give clues into themes and details present in Hillbilly Elegy. Mountain Dew, law texts, a war veteran hat, and a map of Middletown, Ohio, are all shown to represent parts of J.D. Vance’s life. Want to know more about these items? The Capitol Lakes exhibit states that you’ll have to read the book in order to find out!

Capitol Lakes offers information on other various Hillbilly Elegy discussions nearby.

The display also offers helpful information on other various Hillbilly Elegy discussions around the Madison area and where an individual can obtain their own copy of Hillbilly Elegy if interested.

The exhibit provided lots of helpful and interesting information about the Go Big Read program and Hillbilly Elegy. A big thank you once again to the residents of Capitol Lakes! We greatly appreciate it.

Opioid Crisis: A National Emergency?

On August 10th, President Trump declared that he considered the opioid crisis to be a “national emergency.”

“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency. It’s a national emergency,” Trump reiterated. “We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”

President Donald Trump. CC Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

With such a long history, accumulating largely over the past decade, fixing the opioid epidemic is a challenge.

“There’s no doubt that this shines a brighter light on the epidemic. It remains to be seen how much this will fundamentally change its course,” said Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness. “No one thinks the recovery from this is going to be fast, emergency or not.”

As seen in Hillbilly Elegyopioid addiction affects the lives of many individuals and their families. Currently, there are an estimated 2.6 million opioid addicts in the United States alone.

Opioids have taken the lives of many in the past decade. CC Image Courtesy of Health.mil.

Despite President Trump’s declaration nearly a month ago, there has been no formal declaration from the presidential administration.

“The President is considering not just the emergency authorities outlined in the report, but other potential options as well, to ensure we’re doing all that we can to tackle this crisis head on,” a White House spokesperson said. “The President recently instructed his administration to take all appropriate and emergency measures to confront the opioid crisis. Right now these actions are undergoing a legal review.”

The spokesperson then later noted that they will officially declare it as a national emergency, it is just a matter of when that will happen.

Regardless of the White House’s position on the opioid crisis’ declaration as a national emergency, several states have taken matters into their own hands. Six states have declared a state of emergency over the opioid crisis: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.

Others are also busy warning college students of the new risk this crisis can potentially have on their lives.

“This is a time when young adults have more access to substances than ever before and have more economic leverage and legal protections,” said Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Youth Continuum in Minnesota.

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are at the highest risk for opioid addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid abuse has killed more than 30,000 people between 2002 and 2015.

A death by overdose chart between 2002 and 2015. CC Image Courtesy of the NIH website.

United States citizens are watching closely as to what will come of President Trump’s declaration regarding the opioid crisis. With declared emergencies largely previously addressing situations like natural disasters, it will be interesting to see how and if this declaration can have a substantial impact on improving conditions for the opioid crisis.

 

Integrate Latest Go Big Read Book into your Course!

On Tuesday, Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced the title of the forthcoming 2017-18 Go Big Read book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance.

Seeing as a key component of the Go Big Read program is the incorporation of the book into academic courses across campus, it’s once more time to consider curricular integration! Some classes will use the book on their required reading lists, while others will offer themes related to the book as optional topics for papers and presentations. The possibilities are truly endless. Furthermore, all students who are enrolled in these participating courses will receive a free copy of the book and will benefit from the critical thinking and discussions the text may inspire.

Last year’s text–Pulitzer Prize winning text, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American Cityby esteemed sociologist and UW alum Matthew Desmond–was incorporated into over 100 diverse courses, ranging from Botany 265: Rainforests and Coral Reefs to Dance 011: Contemporary Dance I and from Genetics 562: Human Cytogenetics to Urban and Regional Planning 590: Making Health Matter in Planning, just to name a few.

Curricular integration and discussion is a key component of the Go Big Read program.

Students gain key critical thinking skills from reading, discussing, and completing assignments about the Go Big Read text.

Like EvictedHillbilly Elegy can be worked into a wide range of classroom spaces, including, but not limited to courses within the studies of Anthropology, Athletic Training, Biology, Communication Arts, Community and Environmental Sociology, Community and Nonprofit Leadership, Economics, Elementary Education, English, Gender and Women’s Studies, Geography, History, Human Development and Family Studies, Journalism, Landscape Architecture, Legal Studies, Management and Human Resources, Nutritional Sciences, Personal Finance, Political Science, Psychology, Real Estate and Urban Land Economics, Religious Studies, Social Welfare or Social Work, Sociology, and Statistics.

Students discuss A Tale for the Time Being, the Go Big Read book of the 2013-2014 academic year, in the classroom.

We hope to see many professors, students, and community members engaging with the text throughout next year. Support from administrators, community leaders, and professors helps to make our program impactful and relevant each year!

For more information about the book and the topics it touches, please click here.

For more information about how to integrate the text into your classroom or your programming, please click here.