White Privilege UPDATE: UW-La Crosse Spent $26,000 on Conference

UW-La Crosse Paid for 91 Students, 23 Staff to Attend White Privilege Conference

MacIver News Service | July 2, 2014

[Madison, Wisc…] The MacIver Institute’s investigation into the White Privilege Conference (WPC) has uncovered that the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse spent more than $26,000 on the conference held in Madison this past in late March.

An open records request revealed that 23 UW-La Crosse staff and 91 UW-La Crosse students attended the conference. UW-La Crosse covered the costs for each individual to attend.

In total, the western Wisconsin public university spent $26,562.33, including $2,000 to sponsor the conference and $16,496.25 for registrations.


UW-LaCrosse has not, however, specified if federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding was used to pay the $26,000 bill.

MacIver previously reported on the Department of Public Instruction’s use of $2,000 in special education or IDEA funding to send eight staff members to the WPC. It was also discovered that Monona Grove School District used IDEA funding to send 49 educators to the conference.

Nearly half of the staff that attended are faculty, while the others were staff from the Office of Multicultural Service and Residence life, among others.


This was not the first time students from UW-L attended the conference. In 2008, students attended the WPC, which was held in Springfield, Massachusetts. An article in the school’s student newspaper at the time highlighted one student’s experience.

“According to Diana Vang, a UW-L student who went to the [2008] conference with Multicultural Student Services, the purpose of the conference was to raise awareness about the privileges whites have that minority groups do not,” the Racquet article reads. “For example, the conference touched on the fact that successful white males are more likely to be honored with their own holiday, while Black History Month is celebrated during February, the shortest month of the year.”

The City of La Crosse hosted the conference in 2010, making Wisconsin a two-time host of the WPC.

The MacIver Institute previously reported on the high costs to taxpayers for the event. UW-Eau Claire spent more than $16,000 on the conference and Monona Grove School District spent $13,000 on the conference.

The WPC also received more than $18,000 from the Monona Terrace Event Booking Assistance Fund to hold the conference in Madison, which was first reported by the Wisconsin Reporter. That fund’s revenue comes from local hotel room taxes.

Once UW-La Crosse’s expenditures are added, the total running taxpayer cost comes to $85,899.

MacIver is still waiting on responses from numerous other open records requests, so the total taxpayer cost for the conference is expected to increase even more.

Check back often for updates as they come available.