UW-Milwaukee updated statement on social media post by UWM lecturer

Betsy Schoeller, a senior lecturer at UWM, made comments via her personal Facebook page that are beyond thoughtless. They are repugnant and terribly at odds with UWM’s values. UWM in no way condones Ms. Schoeller’s comments, and we understand and empathize with the outrage and concerns we are hearing.

The murder of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen is horrifying. There can be no excuse or rationalization for the killing of SPC Guillen and the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. UWM is proud to be the largest educator of veterans in the state of Wisconsin and stands in solidarity with those opposed to violence against women, and anxiously awaits justice for SPC Guillen and her family.

There are legal reasons why UWM cannot fire Ms. Schoeller for her social media postings, as some have demandedThis type of speech is protected by the First Amendment, as UWM cannot regulate the private speech of its employees. 

We are committed to a safe, welcoming and inclusive campus, and this includes support for anyone affected by sexual violence, as well as military members and veterans. UWM offers several support services for sexual violence survivors, including confidential resources as well as survivor-empowered reporting options. UWM also takes its Title IX obligations to ensure a community free of sex discrimination seriously. Please see our Title IX webpage for more information: uwm.edu/titleix/what-is-title-ix/. UWM also offers robust and meaningful support for veterans and active military through the Military and Veterans Resource Center (MAVRC) (uwm.edu/mavrc), which has operated at UWM since 2012.

We encourage any student affected by or concerned about this situation to seek out campus resources, including MAVRC, the Dean of Students Office, and the Norris Health Center’s University Counseling Services. We do not want the educational experience – or the sense of safety – of any of our students to be damaged by this appalling situation.