In a better world than the one we live in, wanting schools to be diverse and inclusive for all students wouldn’t be controversial. But in Wisconsin, Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to block any efforts to foster diversity on college campuses.
Last month, the Republican-controlled state legislature decided to withhold pay raises for University of Wisconsin employees over the school’s D.E.I. efforts. Republicans have said they will continue to deny the tens of thousands of employees pay increases until the school system agrees not to spend any money on diversity programming. It’s worth noting that the state has $7 billion budget surplus.
“We are denying pay increases to half of our state workforce because of one person’s resistance to inclusion on our campuses,” Democratic Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard said, according to the AP., referencing Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who has led the charge in fighting D.E.I.
This isn’t the only time Wisconsin Republicans have gone after the University of Wisconsin system over diversity efforts. The state legislature slashed $32 million from the school system’s budget and denied a request for additional funds to keep up with inflation. In total, the school system, which is one of the highest ranked in the nation and a significant attraction for the state, will end up roughly half a billion short on funding.
Republicans argue that the $32 million is being spent on diversity efforts, but the president of the university system says that these cuts could mean having to shut down some of their campuses.
The school system is attempting to find a workaround to re-coup money by proving that they’re spending it on workforce development. However, Vos has said that he wouldn’t approve a plan to spend on workforce development until the school cut any spending on diversity programs.
As of now, it looks as if Republicans are determined to continue punishing the tens of thousands of students and faculty at the University of Wisconsin for the foreseeable future.