Tuesday was a day for Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol to show their frustrations with the University of Wisconsin.
The State Assembly was scheduled to vote on a series of plans that would force changes upon the Universities of Wisconsin.
The biggest proposed change would create a punishment for UW campuses that do not respect the free speech rights of students – particularly conservative students, according to Rep. Amanda Nedweski, R-Pleasant Prairie.
“The UW Student Free Speech survey results tell us more and more that students, particularly those with conservative viewpoints, choose to self-censor rather than participate in meaningful discussion and debate,” Nedweski said. “Many are choosing not to attend UW schools at all.”
Her plan, AB 553, would impose a two-year tuition freeze at any UW campus that violates the new free speech policy twice within five years.
Another Republican proposal, AB 554, would end the use of race as a factor at all UW schools.
Rep. Nik Rettinger, R-Mukwonago, said the plan simply complies with the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down race-based admissions at colleges across the country.
“We are looking to shift criteria away from race, which is not only just morally wrong to continue to divide society that way, I know it’s been a great discussion legislature has been having,” Rettinger said. “[We want] a new disadvantage definition to ensure that those who are in true economic need are still able to receive aid under these programs.”
Neither of the plans are expected to become law. Democrats at the Capitol, and Gov. Tony Evers are opposed to both.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also talked about the university, and the ongoing fight over raises for UW workers and the split over diversity, equity, and inclusion funding.
“The legislature is not going to stand behind the idea that we can have a system that focuses on division, indoctrination and exclusion at the expense of the rest of the state,” Vos added. “So hopefully we’ll find an answer. I’m an optimist. I think we’ve had good discussions, but we are not going to move forward until we have a consensus that generates all the way through.”
Evers sued Vos and the Republican-controlled legislature over the decision to withhold UW raises as part of the spat over diversity, equity and inclusion.
The University on Monday introduced a plan that would spend more on STEM and in-demand degrees, like Vos has asked for. But that plan doesn’t do anything about the university’s DEI spending.