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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Assembly Speaker Rep. Robin Vos speaking to members of the press after the 2022 State of the State address.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos aims to have legislative oversight of UW System positions

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told reporters at a press conference Tuesday he would remain steadfast in his hopes for legislative oversight over DEI positions.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told reporters Tuesday he wants future legislative oversight of University of Wisconsin System positions. 

“We made the mistake about 10 years ago, giving the authority for the UW to create their own positions around the Legislature,” Vos said. 

Vos has rallied against diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs since May. He believes DEI efforts divide students and make the UW System an “institute of indoctrination.” 

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ spokesperson Britt Cudaback on Tuesday called Vos’ plan “vague” and “absurd political rhetoric,” in an email statement to The Daily Cardinal. 

“There is no governor in modern Wisconsin history who has advocated as fiercely for the UW System and for higher education as Gov. Evers has, and he will continue to defend and protect the University of Wisconsin System with every power and authority he has,” the email read.

On Tuesday, Vos blocked a 6% pay raise over the next two years for UW System employees, a position he threatened to maintain unless the university eliminated DEI initiatives. 

“I would love to outlaw DEI and to be as aggressive as possibly can be,” he said during the press conference. 

However, the tug-of-war has not always gone in his favor. 

UW-Madison Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin told the Cardinal in September that the university will keep, if not grow, DEI programming even after Vos said he would prohibit a pay increase. 

“As a function of the $32 million budget cut, we have not taken any actions focused on DEI and actually, really, we’re looking at ways we can grow what we can do under our diversity umbrella,” Mnookin told the Cardinal.

Democratic lawmakers have stood their ground against these sentiments as well. Gov. Evers used a partial veto in July to save 188 DEI positions after GOP lawmakers attempted to cut both DEI-related jobs and $32 million from the UW System budget. 

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Ava Menkes

Ava Menkes is the state news editor at The Daily Cardinal. She has covered multiple stories about Wisconsin politics and written in-depth about nurses unions and youth voter turnout. Follow her on Twitter at @AvaMenkes.

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