University of Wisconsin Board of Regents rejects $800 million deal that would limit DEI initiatives

The University of Wisconsin rejected a deal by the state assembly to receive extra funding in exchange for limiting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

University of Wisconsin Board of Regents rejects $800 million deal that would limit DEI initiatives

In a narrow vote on Saturday, the University of Wisconsin (UW) System Board of Regents chose to reject $800 million of additional funding in exchange for keeping and expanding their diversity offices.

For six months, Wisconsin Republicans have put forth funding bills that hoped to limit or cut diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives at state universities in exchange for UW employee raises. Though the latest deal was seen as an ideal compromise, the UW board rejected it in a 9-8 vote while also agreeing not to table the vote for further discussion.

"It’s a shame they’ve 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," State Assembly Republicans wrote in a statement after the vote.

The proposal would have included a three-year cap on all DEI hires, eliminating the diversity statement on applications for two UW campuses and guarantee admission to the top 5% of Wisconsin high school students at UW-Madison and the top 10% of in-state students at other UW campuses.

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In exchange, the deal would have given the school over $800 million in funding for utilities, maintenance and other construction projects as well as free up money for pay raises effective by Dec. 31.

UW system president Jay Rothman voiced his displeasure at the rejection on Saturday after previously expressing support for the deal.

"On balance, I believe this proposed agreement was in the best interests of the Universities of Wisconsin. While I am disappointed, I respect the decision of the Board of Regents," Rothman wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Wisconsin Democratic State Representative Dora Drake responded positively to the rejection, claiming that it would protect students.

"This really shows the power of organizing and lets people know that Wisconsinites truly value diversity," Drake told Inside Higher Ed. "But the work continues. This is not the last strategy Representative [Robin] Vos and the Republicans will attempt."

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Assembly Democrats have previously attacked Republicans for working to eliminate or scale back DEI initiatives at the universities.

"You’d be hard-pressed to find a major organization in this country that isn’t doing something to help them achieve equity and inclusion," Democratic Sen. Kelda Roys said when the DEI cuts were first proposed in June. "The UW is the economic engine of the state. Making any cuts to the UW, especially politically motivated ones, is just going to harm every person in this state."

Fox News Digital reached out to the University of Wisconsin for a comment.

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