UW Regents vote down DEI and buildings deal brokered with Republican leaders

From the Article:

In an unexpected move Saturday, the board overseeing state public universities narrowly rejected a deal University of Wisconsin System leaders brokered with the state's top Republican over campus diversity efforts.

The UW Board of Regents voted 9-8 to strike down an agreement "reimagining" campus diversity efforts, which many saw as selling out students of color in exchange for $800 million in employee pay raises and building projects.

The deal would have restructured dozens of diversity staff into positions serving all students and frozen the total number of diversity positions for the next three years.

"The Legislature has made decisions over the years that have proved to have a negative lingering effect on our public universities," Regent Angela Adams said during the hastily-called special meeting. "But to finally and begrudgingly propose to start funding the universities in exchange for insulting people historically excluded and underrepresented in higher education is a nonstarter for me. It's divisive, it's polarizing, and will ultimately lead to even more negative effects on the university system for decades to come."

Months in the making, UW System President Jay Rothman and UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin brokered the deal with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington. The details announced Friday looked to cap a contentious six months of negotiations over diversity, equity and inclusion programming.

"No one is going to look at this agreement and love every piece of it," Mnookin said Friday. "But I do think this approach to bridging a divide makes sense. This compromise allows us to hold on to our core values, and that includes our commitment to diversity."

Campuses view DEI programs and staff as critical in supporting a broad range of students while conservatives cast the effort as wasteful and racially divisive.

Vos made the first move in May when he called for the elimination of all campus DEI positions. Over the summer, Republicans cut $32 million from the UW system budget and pulled the UW-Madison engineering building from its funding list. Vos raised the stakes again this fall when he withheld UW employee pay raises already approved by the Legislature.

The board's divided vote was rare. Most resolutions pass overwhelmingly.

Vos said what he agreed to was "our best and final offer."

"We negotiated in good faith and expected the same," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a text message Saturday. "It was It's a shame they've denied employees their raises and the almost ($1 billion) investment that would have been made in the UW System to continue their ideological campaign to force students to believe only one viewpoint is acceptable on campus."

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg could not be immediately reached Saturday but was noncommittal about the deal on Friday, saying only that his caucus would deliberate.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who appointed the majority of the board members, urged the Legislature to release the already approved UW employee pay raises and find common ground with UW as negotiations continue.

“It’s clear the regents are deeply divided over this proposal, have immense concerns about this process and the difficult position they were put in, and are all committed to their charge—doing what’s best for our past, present, and future students, faculty, and staff, and the institutions that have defined our state for generations," he said in a statement. "I believe that’s what they did today in voting their values, and I understand and support their decision and vote."

SwingingTheLamp,

Good on ‘em! The correct principle is that you do not negotiate with terrorists. If the tactic works for them, they’ll do it again.

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