University of Wisconsin system reaches deal with Republicans to cut back diversity positions

News & Politics

Following pressure from Republican lawmakers, the Universities of Wisconsin announced on Friday that it had frozen diversity positions, dropped an affirmative action program, and aimed to make space for a position focused on conservative thought at its flagship campus in Madison.

Conservatives have long criticized the Universities of Wisconsin institution for leaning too far left, but Democrats have insisted Republicans have made an overt effort to block pay raises for the faculty at the university, according to GMToday. However, the cultural battle over diversity playing out in Wisconsin is representative of the same issues cropping up in colleges and universities across the U.S.

Assembly Republican Speaker Robin Vos, who reportedly brokered the deal with UW, said that “[i]n recent years we’ve seen a growing emphasis on concepts that amplify ideas of division, exclusion and indoctrination on our campuses.”

“Our caucus objective has always been aimed at dismantling the bureaucracy and division related to DEI and reprioritizing our universities towards an emphasis on what matters — student success and achievement,” Vos continued.

Back in June, Republican lawmakers chose not to release funding for a new engineering building at the flagship campus. And Vos, in October, blocked pay raises for employees across the university system until the institution reeled back spending on positions that specifically promoted diversity.

CBS News reported the university agreed to freeze diversity hires until 2026 and move 43 diversity positions to focus on “student success.” The university is also set to eliminate any statement on its application forms that allude to diversity.

The university is also prepared to make way for a position on campus that would focus on conservative thought. The position would replace a position that was specifically meant to recruit diverse faculty.

As far as incoming students are concerned, UW-Madison will reportedly be forced to accept any student who finished in the top 5% of their class at a Wisconsin high school. Additionally, students who finished in the top 10% of their class at a Wisconsin high school would be guaranteed admission to the system’s regional campuses.

The university, in exchange, would receive the necessary funds for pay raises of its faculty. It would also receive around $200 million to build an engineering building and renovate dorms.

However, some within the university system do not appreciate the trade-off, with Vincent Filak, a journalism professor at UW-Oshkosh, saying: “We just sold out a lot of the BIPOC community in the UW system for a couple building projects and some low-end raises.”

“I’d give up my raise if it would have stopped this.”

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