After Wisconsin’s Republican Assembly leader threatened to cut funding for university positions explicitly related to DEI, the University of Wisconsin has decided to remove all DEI statements from its job interview process.
Universities, including UW, have adopted a common practice of asking potential faculty to provide statements detailing how they work to further diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Critics of this practice suggest that it pressures applicants into affirming liberal viewpoints.
Last week, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) asserted that the DEI programming at UW campuses is too focused on “race and gender and sexual preference,” ostracizing those with a more right-leaning political orientation.
“Now, I don’t believe in discrimination,” Vos told Jay Weber on WISN-AM Radio. “I don’t think anybody listening does either. Everybody should be allowed to succeed based on their merit, and the quality of the work that they produce. But what we’re doing instead on campus is we are instilling in kids, students, that the only criteria that matters to your success in society today is the color of your parents’ skin.”
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Vos has also threatened to cut state funding to Wisconsin’s public universities, specifically targeting the $13.6 million in UW’s budget allocated to DEI.
Speaking about the DEI programming at UW, Vos said, “It’s not like they have an office sitting in some academic hall on campus. They literally have these people burrowed in like a tick on every single college campus, and in every single college department, so it’s so deep in a lot of these things.”
On Thursday, UW System President Jay Rothman announced changes in the hiring process that will be implemented across UW campuses.
“We remain absolutely committed to the principles of DEI,” Rothman said. “But when some people believe mandatory diversity statement in employment applications are political litmus tests, then we are not being inclusive.”
Back in February, a UW System student free speech survey was released, showing that the majority of conservative respondents were self-censoring their views and felt political pressure in class.
Rothman came out in support of this survey and said that the system “can’t be afraid of the truth and what the survey shows us.”
“We want to make sure we get ourselves better,” said Rothman. “It is important that our universities continue to be marketplaces of ideas where divergent opinions can be shared and debated and discussed. And I think that, at the end of the day, is a bipartisan issue.”