‘Ideological bias’ training mandate, other provisions were taken out of UW System deal

By Ava Menkes and  Liam Beran

Republican lawmakers and University of Wisconsin System President Jay Rothman reached an agreement in December to restructure diversity, equity and inclusion positions, but records show other systemwide plans were taken out at the last minute. 

A Music Hall restoration, a mandate to have UW System employees complete a module to address “ideological bias” and a four-year diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) cap were previously on the table but removed shortly before the deal’s passage.

In some cases, those removals came less than a week before the UW Board of Regents approved a controversial deal that exchanged building funds and employee pay raises for a cap on UW System DEI positions. UW leaders also agreed to restructure a third of those positions to focus on general student success.

UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin texted Rothman on Dec. 3 that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, wanted a deal within the week. 

Word of the deal’s details reached media outlets by Dec. 7, and the first vote by the Board of Regents, which initially struck down the deal, came on Dec. 9.