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When Images "Lie": Creating Diversity at the University of Wisconsin

When Images "Lie": Creating Diversity at the University of Wisconsin

Written by Danielle Nicole DeVoss
March 09, 2011

In 2000, the University of Wisconsin-Madison produced and distributed an “Undergraduate Application” booklet to thousands of prospective students. A student journalist working for the school’s newspaper noticed that the lighting in the photo seemed a bit off, and closely examined the photo.

The administration eventually admitted that they had used a 1994 photo of a student and digitally merged it into the pic of Wisconsin football fans. As a published article revealed, “To make things worse for embarrassed university officials, Shabazz [the student graphically edited into the photo] happens to be a prominent African American student activist who has never attended a UW football game and is deeply involved in efforts to promote campus diversity.” provides an analysis of the image and its effects, and provides links to follow-up articles on the story (a href=”” target=”blank”>

What are the potential implications of “creating” diversity? What should the University of Wisconsin publications team done instead of graphically creating an image representing the university’s supposed diverse student body? These are interesting questions to pose to students.

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