Assembly Speaker backs off UW diversity ban



(The Center Square) – The fight over diversity, equity and inclusion at the University of Wisconsin come back in the future after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he is giving up on his push to eliminate DEI positions within the universities.

“I thought a very reasonable position would be to say like corrections or any other agency, if you want to add more positions, come to the legislature and make your justification what has to happen,” Vos told reporters. “That would be all positions, but it would certainly be DEI. I can’t imagine us ever approving a DEI position that would come before us but if they came and said we need more faculty to teach, you know, chemistry or whatever the program would be, I’m certainly we would say yes just like we have in the past.”

Vos has been at odds with UW leaders since he first proposed eliminating DEI administrative jobs earlier this spring. He has ordered the State Assembly to withhold $32 million from the universities in an effort to pressure the UW to fall into line.

Vos admitted that has not worked.

“My hope is that we can find some kind of reasonable middle ground that says the university doesn’t get to be a bad actor and do whatever they want regardless of the cost of taxpayers, and we get to make sure that we don’t have some kind of a spending spree on DEI, which of course, has happened over the course of the past six years.”

Vos’ change came on the same day that the Wisconsin Senate voted to leave UW workers out of a state pay raise plan.

State Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said it is sad to see janitors and lunch ladies punished because UW administrators refuse to give in on DEI.

“The local employees on our campuses should not be penalized for policy decisions made by leaders of the university system. The custodians, executive assistants, food service providers and local faculty at UW-Platteville have very little to do with the politics of the university system,” Marklein said in a statement.

Vos said he offered his “middle ground” approach to the university in their most recent meeting but said the university has seemed to reject that plan. He said he remains hopeful.

UW President Jay Rothman was at the Capitol, and said he hopes to find a path forward on pay raises for UW employees. He didn’t say anything about Vos’ latest proposal on diversity, equity and inclusion.



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