Boots & Sabers

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0545, 12 Dec 23

UW Regents Choose DEI Over Employee Raises

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s some:

Many Americans were shocked by the militant antisemitism that erupted from our nation’s universities in the wake of Hamas’ evil murder, rape, kidnapping, and torture of Israeli civilians on October 7th. Some of us have watched the growing racial and religious hate growing in our universities for years, but the virulent display of hate by students and faculty has laid bare a malignant cancer in our culture.


The darker realization is that the bigotry we see on campuses all over our nation is being taught. It is the result of the incremental, but intentional, decline of our universities into schools that prioritize teaching people to be leftist activists instead of enlightened thought leaders. We see that prioritization on full display in Wisconsin.


The legislative Republicans, led by Speaker Robin Vos and undermined by Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, have been withholding money for employee raises for the Universities of Wisconsin until UW agreed to eliminate its Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) staff. Although DEI is infused throughout the Universities, the UW currently has 43 exclusive DEI positions and about 34,000 total employees.


Despite the stated high-minded rhetorical ideals around DEI, it is part of the cancer in our universities. DEI purports to promote individualism and unique individual experiences. In practice, it devolves into categorizing people into arbitrary racial, ethnic, religious, gender, and economic groups, assigning a relative value to each category, and then encouraging separatism and discrimination. It fosters a culture of dehumanizing the “other” by assigning people to groups instead of engaging them as individuals. DEI programs favor racial segregation in dorms and learning spaces, quotas for admissions and hiring, and silences voices from unfavored people. As practiced on our UW campuses, DEI has long since left behind principles of tolerance and equality.


Furthermore, while some DEI professionals still try to adhere to classical liberal principles of inclusion, many of these DEI positions have become destination jobs for some of the most hateful, bigoted, and vile people in our society. Too many times when we watch another racist screed online, we see it coming from someone who has a career in the protected DEI club of academia.


Seeing this cancer growing in our state universities, Speaker Vos and his compatriots sought to use a financial wedge to force positive change at UW by withholding money for employee raises until the UW eliminated its 43 dedicated DEI positions. Last week, Vos caved and agreed to a compromise that I thought gave too much for too little.


In the sixteen-point deal, the UW would agree to freeze, not eliminate, its DEI positions in place. UW would also agree to adhere to rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court to not discriminate in admissions, pull back on racial discrimination for hiring, add a teaching module about freedom of expression, and implement an automatic admission program for Wisconsin’s top High School students.


In return for these modest concessions by UW that involve mostly doing things that they should be doing anyway, Vos agreed to open the financial floodgates and lavish hundreds of millions of dollars on UW to pay for employee raises, build a long-sought new engineering building, pay for several new building projects all over the system, and pay to demolish and remove 21 old buildings. That is a lot of construction for a UW with steeply declining enrollment.


Despite this surrender by Vos where UW got almost everything it wanted, the UW Regents voted to reject the compromise. What does this tell us about the UW Regents and the leadership of the Universities of Wisconsin?


In a $7.53 billion budget for the Universities of Wisconsin, the Regents always had budgetary room to pay for employee raises and buildings, but they prioritized DEI and administration. At UW-Madison alone, they have grown administration and support staff by 23 percent in the last ten years according to The College Fix. The instructional staff to undergrad ratio has stayed constant at about one to ten while there is now about one administrator for every four undergrads.


There was always budgetary room for employee raises – there still is – but the UW leadership decided to hold those raises hostage to put pressure on the legislature to agree to continue to fund DEI.


Is it any wonder that our universities have become cesspools of hate and division? The leadership and administration of those universities are making the choice to maintain and grow cancerous teachings at the expense of all else. We are regressing as a culture in terms of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion and that regression is being led by our universities like the Universities of Wisconsin.


0545, 12 December 2023


  1. dad29

    pay for several new building projects all over the system, and pay to demolish and remove 21 old buildings.

    Vos should now take these OFF THE TABLE for the next round.

    He doesn’t have the balls, but that’s what he should do. Trump would do that, and maybe DeSantis.

  2. Kevin Scheunemann

    DEI cult is powerful. May have to defund the entire system to get this cult ideological cancer out.

  3. Merlin

    Vos says he’s leaving the last, bestest, and only offer on the table for an indefinite while… just in case the Regents want to reconsider walking away from all that money. That’s a big pile. Let’s see how long it takes the Regents to rationalize away their principles.

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