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UW says counselors won't be exclusively for students of color; conservative group eyes suit

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Bascom Hall, UW-Madison generic file photo

Bascom Hall on the UW-Madison campus.

A day before a conservative legal group threatened legal action against UW-Madison for reportedly hiring three mental health providers to serve only students of color, the university changed its announcement of the hires to say they wouldn’t serve only students of color.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty threatened to file a lawsuit Wednesday, saying the jobs as originally described violate state and federal laws against racial discrimination.

WILL cited a Sept. 9 announcement that said University Health Services had hired nine new mental health providers, three of whom “will exclusively serve students of color, joining eight providers already in this role.” The school said the new providers would bring cultural awareness to help support students of color.

UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said Wednesday that the original announcement of the hires cited in the group’s complaint was inaccurate.

It was updated Tuesday to say the three newly hired counselors will “join eight current providers who have special expertise addressing issues that students of color often experience.”

“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,” McGlone said.

WILL said in an update on its website that it understands the university’s revised release to mean it is no longer “making counseling resources exclusively available to students on the basis of race.

“Should this understanding be incorrect or should counseling services be provided in a discriminatory way, UW may be hearing from us,” the firm said.

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