Student life – On Wisconsin For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Mon, 04 Feb 2019 21:09:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Stone Survivor Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:41:24 +0000 Sandstone statue in a garden

Bryce Richter

After 70 secretive years, a gargoyle has been reunited with its twin. One of the sandstone statues, which sat atop the old Law School, was thought to have been destroyed during the building’s 1963 demolition. But the children of Paul Been ’49 LLB’53 grew up hearing a different story. Been, along with a fellow law student, hauled it away in a wheelbarrow after a storm, according to the family. His children returned the statue in September.

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Langdon Street Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:15 +0000 In 1949, Officer Hector Naze poses with a seven-year-old Milverstedt on a State Street corner in Madison, WI

Arthur Vinje

Langdon Street wasn’t always the sole province of Greek-letter houses and student residences. Fred Milverstedt ’69, who grew up on the street, says, “I would sit on the front steps of the Pillars [apartment building], morning and night, and watch the parade [of] post-WWII students go by.” His mother would walk him partway to school and then have a police officer usher him across the street. In 1949, Officer Hector Naze posed with a seven-year-old Milverstedt on a State Street corner for a safety campaign. Milverstedt went on to major in journalism at the UW and spent time working for the Wisconsin State Journal, the Milwaukee Journal, the Associated Press, and the Capital Times. In 1975, he cofounded and became the first editor of the Isthmus, Madison’s free weekly, eventually becoming a writer and editor with the UW Foundation before his retirement.

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Memorial Library Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:14 +0000 The library was the state’s biggest building project since the Wisconsin Capitol in 1917. In the 1980s, plans for an eight-story addition were reduced by one floor to avoid blocking views of the capitol. Memorial Library is home to 3.5 million volumes — the largest single library collection in the state. Before the building’s construction in 1953, the library shared space with the Wisconsin Historical Society. Locked carrels, frequently called “cages,” are visible in this 1960s image. Second-year graduate students looking to avoid lugging books back and forth to the library can apply for one of the solitary study spaces. The library is known as one of the best places on campus to power through solo studying, a reputation reinforced by one review posted on Google: “Quietest public place for UW students. Not suitable for group work.”

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Slideshow: Madison Flood Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:14 +0000 Madison-area lake levels continued to rise after a record-breaking storm on August 20, 2018, dumped more than 10 inches of rain on parts of Dane County and caused flooding on the UW–Madison campus lakeshore. Street closures in the downtown area also complicated matters for students who moved into residence halls six days later. While other areas of Madison experienced flooding for weeks after the initial rainfall, campus remained open for normal operations.

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Wheelhouse Studios Mon, 05 Nov 2018 20:30:13 +0000 What started four years ago as a small experiment meant to encourage the campus community to tap into its creativity has expanded tenfold into a hub for the skilled and newcomers alike to come together and make art. Wheelhouse Studios’ monthly Free Art Fridays draw between 300 and 400 people, and on the weekends it’s getting difficult to find an open pottery wheel.

“We exceeded all of our expectations, so organizationally, we’re figuring out what the sustainability plan is,” says recently retired director Jay Ekleberry ’77, MS’83. “How do we keep this going? How do we keep things fresh and new?”

Open 70 hours a week on the lower level of Memorial Union, Wheelhouse is available to students and union members and offers spaces dedicated to ceramic, 3D, and 2D art. The open-studio aspect is what sets the program apart, Ekleberry says. With other art spaces in Madison, “you can’t just waltz into your ceramics studio anytime between your class sessions and practice or work on a project.”

That time to pursue artistic passions was what inspired Wheelhouse’s predecessor, the Craftshop, which opened in 1930 after student Sally Owen Marshall ’30 used her senior thesis to petition for an art space on campus. It closed in 2012 for renovations to the union and Wheelhouse opened in 2014.

Close to 2,000 students and community members enroll in Wheelhouse classes during the year, and the studio attracts additional visitors when it hosts events to encourage conversation about contemporary issues. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the campus community was invited to drop in and create mixed-media collages representing their favorite quote from King. Wheelhouse has also hosted painting workshops to reinforce positive messages about body image.

“When you’re just sitting and talking when you’re working on an art project, the dialogue becomes deeper,” Ekleberry says. “It’s a whole different conversation because you’re engaged in this activity that’s activating the whole brain, forcing you to be creative. You have an instant common ground.”

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Wisconsin Quidditch Thu, 01 Nov 2018 15:47:21 +0000 Alison Pujanauski has the ball during a game of Quidditch with fellow students

“[Defenders] don’t always necessarily look at [the women], even if they’re standing wide open in the backfield,” says UW chaser Alison Pujanauski x’20 (pictured). “So it kind of makes you a secret weapon.”

On a chilly fall evening, the Wisconsin Quidditch team is trying to sell its game to the newest recruits: a pair of students who happened to be tossing a football on the Gordon Dining and Event Center lawn.

“It’s just like that, but with a volleyball,” one of the players shouts over to them. Her teammates chime in: it’s a combination of many sports, including rugby, dodgeball, basketball, and tag. They brag that a former UW football player has even joined their ranks.

Quidditch looks like organized chaos. Words can only start to describe it; YouTube videos do it much better. There are three chasers, who score points by passing and throwing a volleyball — or quaffle — through the opponent’s goals (three hoops propped up with PVC piping). There’s a keeper, who serves as the goalie and blocks scoring attempts. There are two beaters, who throw dodgeballs — or bludgers — at opponents to briefly knock them out of the game. Later on, there’s a seeker, who attempts to end the match and score a bounty of points by catching the snitch, a tennis ball wrapped in a sock dangling off the backside of an impartial runner. (Yes, quidditch is a contact sport.) Oh, and all the players must hold a PVC pipe — or broom — between their legs at all times.

“Wait.” One of the recruits reaches an epiphany: “Is this, like, the Harry Potter thing?”

Twenty years after the U.S. release of the first Harry Potter book, quidditch — sans the wizardry and magic — is still found on many college campuses. “We’re working on the flying,” says a deadpan Chris Noble PhDx’20, president of Wisconsin Quidditch.

The human — or muggle — version of quidditch was created in 2005 by imaginative students at Middlebury College in Vermont. In those early days, it stayed as true as humanly possible to author J. K. Rowling’s once fictional sport, with players using actual brooms and wearing capes. Quidditch has since evolved into an international phenomenon, with several governing bodies, a major league in the United States, and a world cup featuring nearly 30 countries. There are more than 150 college and community teams nationwide.

Quidditch is a rare coed sport. No more than four of the six active players (or five of the seven, when the seeker enters) can identify as the same gender. While intense and competitive on the pitch, the sport is known for its congenial spirit among players and teams. “There seemed to be so much animosity in some of the [other] sports that I tried to play,” Noble says.

The game first arrived at UW–Madison in 2009, when Nikki Powers ’10 and Mary Howard ’13 established a student organization. The club vanished after a year or two, but its Facebook page remained. Noble — who began playing quidditch in his native United Kingdom — arrived on campus in 2015. After posting on the Facebook page, he eventually mustered up enough interest to revive the squad. Around 20 players now make up the roster and compete against nearby schools, including Marquette, Loyola, and Columbia College. Last year, the team qualified for the Midwest regional tournament for the first time but fell short of nationals. The tournament was held at Breese Stevens Field in Madison.

As practice unfolds, it’s easy to tell the veterans from the beginners. Newer players often fall to temptation, channeling their inner Steph Curry and futilely chucking quaffles from 30 feet away. The veteran players strategically and patiently align, pass, and weave until they’re in Giannis Antetokounmpo dunking range. Skilled players can momentarily move with their brooms tightly tucked between their legs, freeing up two hands for catching and throwing.

It’s clear that the athletes take this game seriously, even if some passersby don’t. During practice, a few students on their way to the dining hall sneak a Snapchat or point and laugh with their friends. The Harry Potter charm comes attached with a nerdy stigma. But the longer you watch quidditch, the more you notice the feats of athleticism and teamwork and less the quirks of its fantasy origin.

Perhaps the best description for quidditch is that it’s simply a sport — as real as any other.

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Reckoning with History Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:26 +0000 People walk past a decorative wall in the Memorial Union

Bryce Richter

Between 1919 and 1926, two UW student organizations took the name Ku Klux Klan, and a report delving into that era of campus history “does not make for comfortable reading, nor should it,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

In the wake of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last fall, Blank appointed a study group to research the organizations and their connection to the national KKK. She also asked members of the group, which included UW history professors, to advise her on how the university can respond to this painful history.

The group’s report, released in April, found that the campus community in the early 1920s did not question the presence of two organizations bearing the KKK name, including one that was affiliated with the national white supremacist group Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The report also detailed what Blank calls “shameful examples” of the UW community’s treatment of black and Jewish students and of Native Americans, who were excluded from the student body during that era.

“The history the UW needs to confront was not the aberrant work of a few individuals but a pervasive culture of racial and religious bigotry, casual and unexamined in its prevalence, in which exclusion and indignity were routine, sanctioned in the institution’s daily life, and unchallenged by its leaders,” the report says.

The study group also considered the question of renaming campus spaces. But members decided that, first and foremost, the university needs to take more substantive action to address the past and reinvest in institutional change. “We want our collective reckoning with this history to consist of a great deal more than the purging of unpleasant reminders,” the report says.

However, the Wisconsin Union Council, which governs Memorial Union, voted in August to change the names of the Porter Butts Art Gallery and the Fredric March Play Circle — named for the union’s first director and the Oscar-winning actor, respectively. Both men belonged to an interfraternity society that used the Ku Klux Klan name in the early 1920s but was not affiliated with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

The surviving family members of Butts publicly supported the move, which council members said would allow the Union to fulfill its mission by being more welcoming to students of all backgrounds. Butts ’24, MA’36 worked for inclusivity later in his life, including his refusal to allow segregated groups to use Wisconsin Union spaces. And in the 1950s, March ’20 fought persecution of Hollywood artists, many of them Jewish, by the House Un-American Activities Committee. The Union council plans to acknowledge the professional achievements of Butts in another way at Memorial Union.

In response to the study group report, the UW has committed up to $1 million to research and install a public history project “that will document and share the voices of those on campus who endured, fought, and overcame prejudice” throughout its history, Blank says. The university will also fund a proposal to hire a new faculty member in four progams: Afro-American Studies, American Indian Studies, Chican@/Latin@ Studies, and Asian American Studies.

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Play Time Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:26 +0000 Memorial Union opened its doors for the first time on October 5, 1928, which means that the facility will mark its 90th birthday this fall. The occasion will wrap up 13 months of celebration since the five-year-long Memorial Union Reinvestment — the building’s first major renovation — concluded in September 2017. Come to think of it, the Union has been something of a perpetual celebration: nine decades of fun and games. Here’s how play has and hasn’t changed over the years.



In the Union’s opening year, men play cards in Der Rathskeller. It was only men in those days — the Rath wouldn’t be open to women until 1941.

Historical black and white photo of students playing cards in the Memorial Union

UW Archives S0386


In the 1960s, campus had grown increasingly political, and the Union evolved along with the students. Union Director Porter Butts ’26 etired in 1968 and was replaced by Ted Crabb ’54, who served until 2001. But in Der Rathskeller, students still passed the time with card games.



U.S. Navy sailors mansplain a bowling ball to female students. During World War II, the Union’s dining facilities served more than 2,000 military personnel daily. But the drop in male students meant opportunity for women — the Union’s first female president, Carolyn Hall Sands ’44, was elected in 1943.


Two students experiment with human bowling in Memorial Union’s Tripp Commons. There was no real bowling in Memorial Union when it opened, and there isn’t any today. In 1939, eight lanes were added under the theater wing. They closed in 1970, shortly before Union South opened.



Foosball is older than the Union, having been invented in the United Kingdom in 1921. It reached peak popularity in the United States in the 1970s. Shorts were not to be seen in the Union until 1954, however, when a change to the dress code allowed shorts in the cafeteria and Der Rathskeller and on the Terrace.


Students play video games (Super Smash Bros. Brawl) in Der Rathskeller. Video games are a rarity in Memorial Union today. Arcade revenue declined from the 1980s into the 2000s, and the games room closed in 2008.



Pool tournaments were held in the old Billiards Room, which was part of the original Union. A remodel in 1962 turned the Billiards Room into Der Stiftskeller, and the pool tables were moved to the basement. They later came back.


Students play pool in Der Stiftskeller, which was named for a thousand-year-old restaurant in Salzburg, Austria. The murals were added to its walls in 1978.



Students play chess on the Terrace. The Union first made Terrace chairs available for purchase in 1982, though you can only buy red or white, not the traditional green, yellow, and orange.


A chess game enlivens an August evening on the Terrace. Some things change very little.

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Halloween Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:09 +0000 On the one night of the year when it’s perfectly acceptable to be someone (or something) else, there are sure to be just as many tricks as there are treats in Madison.

The city has a history of wild nights when Halloween weekend rolls around. Although the UW has hosted a number of spirited events, such as pumpkin carving and a costume ball at Memorial Union, the soul of Halloween in Madison has long been found on State Street.

Partygoers began flooding into the downtown hub starting in the late 1970s. By the 1980s, as many as 100,000 costumed people — students among them — would line the street and patronize its bars. With informal programming and little crowd control, the event spurred some revelers to set fires, damage property, start fights, and climb light poles. In 1983, a man tragically died after falling from a rooftop.

In 2006, the City of Madison sought to rein in Halloween’s more raucous antics by setting up Freakfest, the region’s largest Halloween festival. In its first year, the gated, ticketed event reduced the number of State Street arrests by nearly 200, from 334 to 148. By 2016, only 13 arrests were made.

Freakfest embraces live music: more than a dozen acts perform across three stages lining State Street. Country stars Kip Moore and Jon Pardi — along with pop groups MisterWives, OK Go, and Timeflies — are among the prominent musicians who have provided a soundtrack for the spooky night.

Although attendance has dropped to a more manageable 30,000 or so per year, there’s no shortage of excitement in the air when All Hallows’ Eve arrives. A summary from the 1982 Badger yearbook rings true today: “If the multitudes of partiers who flock to State Street every year have any say in the matter, rest assured there will never be an end to this most popular of holidays.”

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Home Field Mon, 27 Aug 2018 17:33:09 +0000 Casting long shadows, students play soccer on the Near East Fields near Dejope Residence Hall. The fields are due for reconstruction by 2022 under the Rec Sports Master Plan.

Photo by Jeff Miller

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