UPDATE: Wisconsin Republicans cut DEI spending, slash UW budget by $32m

State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called the estimated $32 million spent on DEI a part of Democrats' 'new religion' to 'make sure everybody is evangelized on campus.'

'I frankly think we have gotten to the point where instead of having an institute of higher learning, we have an institute of indoctrination.'

Wisconsin Republican state lawmakers announced Thursday that the University of Wisconsin System budget will be cut by $32 million, after raising concerns that the system’s focus on the ‘new religion’ of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was leading to wasteful spedning.

On DEI personnel salaries alone, the school system spends almost $16 million annually, but that does not include resources allocated to other DEI initiatives integrated into UW institutions.

Earlier this month, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos indicated that he expected the GOP-led legislature to cut all funding that the university system would use for DEI causes, at an estimate of $32 million. 

[RELATED: University of Arkansas to dismantle DEI division]

“The university should have already chosen to redirect it to something that is more productive and more broadly supported,” Vos stated

In a recent press conference, Vos blasted DEI as the Democrats’ “new religion.”

“They no longer go to church on Sunday, but boy, are they trying to make sure everybody is evangelized on campus, that’s there only one acceptable viewpoint,” he said. ”That’s not what I think taxpayers should be funding.”

Vos has previously suggested university DEI offices create “even more divisions than we’ve had in the past.” 

In a radio interview last month, Vos said, “I frankly think we have gotten to the point where instead of having an institute of higher learning, we have an institute of indoctrination.”

[RELATED: PROF. GIORDANO: Divert DEI Funding to Make a Real Impact] 

In opposition to Republican legislators, UW President Jay Rothman recently hired Monica Smith as chief diversity officer with a salary of $225,000.

Rothman has even threatened to raise tuition costs or close UW campuses should the school system’s budget be cut. 

Wisconsin’s Democratic Governor Tony Evers recently announced that he will not sign the state budget if Republicans eliminate any funding for DEI programs.

After Republican-controlled finance committee decided to suspend the vote after failing to come to an agreement on June 11, a UW spokesperson told Campus Reform that the school system was “optimistic” a deal will be reached to fund “high demand fields” like nursing and engineering. 

After the budget cut announcement, the university directed Campus Reform to a public statement from Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin, who expressed that the committee’s moves wore “disappointing” and “puzzling.”

The committee also shared plans to reduce the UW System budget by $32 million and, while it put that funding into the committee’s supplemental appropriation, this means that UW System’s funding remains flat at best.” said Mnookin. “While we understand that UW System can seek release of the funding for use in high-demand programs such as engineering, nursing, business, computer science and education, it’s disappointing that in a time of historic budget surpluses the committee did not take the opportunity to invest in the state’s most important economic driver.”

Mnookin defended DEI programs as ones that “play a critical role on campus and help students from a wide variety of backgrounds succeed in college, including veterans, students with disabilities, first-generation students, and underrepresented minority students.”

”They also support the wellbeing of faculty and staff,” she added. “Further, employers consistently tell us they want and expect students to have experience working with people from diverse backgrounds, and research also shows that diverse teams tend to make better decisions.”