A critical “do over” vote by the Universities of Wisconsin Board of Regents. The Regents reversed course Wednesday, approving a deal with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to reassign some diversity, equity and inclusion positions on campuses and place a hold on new DEI hires for two years.
The $800 million deal with Republican lawmakers will provide 6% pay raises for 34-thousand UW employees and money for building projects including a new UW-Madison engineering building.
The Regents rejected the very same proposal in a 9 to 8 vote on Saturday, President Karen Walsh, Vice President Amy Blumenfeld Bogost and student Regent Jennifer Staton all changed their votes to support the deal.
Walsh said the system will continue to support underserved students. “This proposal does not put that in jeopardy. We are not turning away from this core value.”
UW-Whitewater Chancellor Corey King stressed the necessity of approving the deal. “We must continue to press forward, and we can make this work.” System president Jay Rothman said compromises made the deal possible. “It’s not perfect, but, on balance, I believe it’s in the best interests of the Universities of Wisconsin and, quite frankly, the state of Wisconsin.”
I thank the Board of Regents for approving this agreement that will deliver more than $800 million in projects, initiatives, and withheld pay to our employees. Given the circumstances, this is good for our students, our universities, and the state of Wisconsin. 1/
— Jay Rothman (@JayORothman) December 13, 2023
In a statement, Governor Tony Evers called the plan “a vast overreach by a group of Republicans.”
This vote today represents a vast overreach by a group of Republicans who’ve grown exceedingly comfortable overextending, manipulating, and abusing their power to control, subvert, and obstruct basic functions of government.
My statement regarding the UW Regents vote tonight. pic.twitter.com/H06GA8iNFG
— Governor Tony Evers (@GovEvers) December 14, 2023
Vos, in a post to the site formally known as Twitter, said the deal marks “the first step in what will be our continuing efforts to eliminate these cancerous DEI practices on UW campuses.”
“I’m glad they approved the compromise tonight despite reported last-minute lobbying by Gov Evers to scuttle the deal. We finally have turned the corner and gotten real reforms enacted. Republicans know this is just the first step in what will be our continuing efforts to… https://t.co/TY1DVI8VWG
— Robin Vos (@repvos) December 14, 2023
Prior to Wednesday’s Regents meeting, members of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Black Caucus urged them to again reject the deal.
As stated before, the vote made today by the UW Board of Regents will not stop us supporting and advocating for African Americans in WI and other underrepresented groups.
The work and fight continues.
— Dora Drake (@RepDrake) December 14, 2023
“Let’s be perfectly clear here. This deal is part of a systematic racist deal and it is discriminatory,” said Representative Dora Drake (D-Milwaukee). “It is discriminatory towards students, faculty and staff of color, because their experiences should never have a price tag, and should ever be bought out on what inclusion looks like on our campuses.”