Why hundreds of students walked out of East High


Good morning, Madison!

Sources tell me that, believe it or not, today is Thursday. This means that tomorrow is the big day — Culver's CurderBurger day.

A quick heads up, the first two stories in today's newsletter deal with matters of sexual assault. With that said, let's dive into the day's news.

— Hayley


📣 Hundreds of East High students staged a walkout yesterday over the school's handling of an alleged sexual assault.

⚖️ The Vilas Zoo director accused of sexual assault struck a deal in court.

  • Some context: Ronda Schwetz was named director of Dane County's Vilas Zoo in 2012. In 2018, Schwetz allegedly assaulted a colleague while on a work trip in Seattle. She is accused of drunkenly groping and making sexual advances toward a former UW-Madison assistant professor and animal researcher who was sharing a hotel room with her on the trip.
  • A Seattle municipal court ruled Wednesday that her criminal charges can be dismissed in two years if she completes alcohol treatment, has no contact with the survivor, and follows other rules, the State Journal reports.
    • The survivor told the State Journal he thought the deal was "utterly thoughtless."
“Everything I have suffered is for nothing because the city of Seattle believes that the defendant is the victim,” the man told the Seattle Municipal Court.
  • Schwetz, who has been on leave following the allegations, plans to return to work Monday.

🚨 Madison's new emergency mental health response team is off to a steady start.

  • Some context: The Community Alternative Response for Emergency Services (CARES) program provides an alternative response to non-violent mental health and substance abuse emergency calls. The CARES teams consist of a paramedic and a Journey Mental Health crisis worker. Their goals are to de-escalate situations without the use of force or police presence. The program, which is still in its pilot phase, launched Sept. 1 with a $600,000 budget.
  • Since its launch, the CARES team has responded to 37 calls, an average of three calls a day. While it's too soon to draw any final conclusions on the program's efficacy, officials say these early results are promising.

🍕 Paisan’s is gearing up to reopen after the city closed its building citing "structural concerns."

🎒 Goodbye humanities, hello Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall.

  • UW-Madison announced a $20 million donation Wednesday that will help clear the way to demolish the labyrinth that is the Humanities Building and make way for a new home for the College of Letters and Science.
  • Brothers and alumni Jeff and Marv Levy gave the multimillion-dollar gift to honor their late parents, whose names will be on the building.
  • The university already secured $60 million in taxpayer-supported borrowing in the state and is looking to raise an additional $15 million to cover the $95 million price tag. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin in 2023 and the building will open to students in 2026.

📚 The Lussier Community Education Center has a new interim director.

🏡 A Madison developer is proposing an upscale five-story housing project near Hilldale.

  • Flad Development wants to demolish office buildings at 216 and 222 N. Midvale Blvd. for the redevelopment, called “The Manchester.” The State Journal reports that the new property would provide 72 apartments and an underground and partial first-floor parking garage with spaces for 70 vehicles and 72 bicycles.
  • The proposal is still in its early stages but if Flad secures the permits needed, construction will begin in spring 2022.

🚓 Your lunchtime read: Wisconsin imprisons 1 in 36 Black adults. No state has a higher rate.

  • From Wisconsin Watch: "A new Sentencing Project report confirms the state’s deep racial disparities in incarceration, which one advocate calls ‘a slap in the face.’"

🦠 Covid-19 Resources

Wisconsin Vaccination Rate: 54.5%

Dane County Vaccination Rate: 71.5%

Here's where to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you.

Need a COVID-19 test? PHMDC has you covered.

Are you eligible for a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna? Find out here.


📅 Events: Thursday, Oct. 14

(Header image via Bohao Zhao, Wikimedia Commons)