UW Madison Rejects DEI Compromise After Negotiating with Republican Legislators, Leaving Raises in Limbo

Evan Poellinger | December 11, 2023
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The regents of the University of Wisconsin, Madison voted 9-8 to reject a deal with Republican legislators which would have allowed faculty and staff at the university to receive a raise in exchange for a reduction in positions related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

UW Madison officials initially agreed to a deal on December 8, which would have halted hiring for DEI positions until 2026, in addition to creating a position “focused on conservative political thought,” while allowing staff to receive their raises and allocating $200 million for a new engineering building and on-campus renovations.

However, the deal ultimately fell through after the vote, despite the favorability of UW President Jay Rothman, who stated, “on balance, I believe this proposed agreement was in the best interests of the Universities of Wisconsin.”

One of the nine who voted against the agreement, Regent Dana Wachs, cited a need to “make this a welcoming environment” as one of his reasons for rejecting the deal. Wisconsin Republicans, on the other hand, took the regents to task for having “denied employees their raises and the almost $1 billion investment that would have been made across the UW system, all so they could continue their ideological campaign to force students to believe only one viewpoint is acceptable on campus.”

The deal rejection represents yet another chapter in a months-long wrestling match between the Republican-controlled Wisconsin state legislature and the University of Wisconsin school system.

After Democrat Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers overrode a decision by Republican legislators to defund DEI positions in the school system, Republicans led by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) threatened to withhold funds that would be used to give university system employees a raise. Vos made good on his threat in October, at which point the university was forced to negotiate with the legislators.

Due to the narrow rejection, it looks as though university officials are back to square one, while Republicans continue to stonewall their raises.