Wisconsin Assembly Democrats released a joint statement Thursday denouncing any attempts by Wisconsin Republicans to “trade” diversity, equity and inclusions initiatives for pay raises and construction projects at the Universities of Wisconsin.
In June, Republican legislators announced a $32 million budget cut to the Universities of Wisconsin. In September, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said he would block pay raises for Universities of Wisconsin employees unless the university cut DEI positions, according to WisPolitics.
“We see Republican Legislators’ attacks on diversity, equity and inclusion at our universities for what they are — attempts to divide us and foment culture wars at the expense of the wellbeing of all of our students,” the statement said.
Cutting DEI would have lasting negative effects on student wellbeing — especially students of color and those in the LGBTQ+ community, according to the joint statement.
The Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus said in a statement on Thursday that attempts to remove DEI from educational institutions fails to consider the interests of students and staff of color.
“Our students should have institutions dedicated to ensuring our campuses are a space for free-thinking and learning free from racism and prejudice. And yet, here we are,” the statement said.
The statement comes after University of Wisconsin administration confirmed UW would not cut DEI positions in a September Associated Students of Madison meeting, according to previous reporting from The Badger Herald.
“We think it’s really important for the things that are happening in the world … we’re not cutting DEI positions, there’s no backing off the importance of this value, it is primary for the institution,” Vice Chancellor Lori Reesor said during the ASM meeting.
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In May, the Universities of Wisconsin removed questions about DEI for prospective employees, after Wisconsin Republicans said the university lacked conservative employees, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
University of Wisconsin and other state employees then rallied for raise releases while maintaining funding for DEI, according to previous reporting from The Badger Herald.
“Attacking DEI initiatives is deeply misguided, will move our universities backwards, and will undermine students’ sense of belonging for years to come,” the statement from Assembly Democrats said.