UW-Madison department to faculty: participate in annual 'anti-racist' experience, or lose your pay raise

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is requiring a portion of their staff to train in “anti-racist practices.”

Staff and faculty members must complete the training, or they will be ineligible for future pay raises.

Some faculty and staff members at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will be required to participate in annual “anti-racist practices” or will forfeit “pay plan and merit increases.

The move, announced Aug. 23 on the school’s website, applies to the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Staff in this department will be required to “participate annually in at least one experience that enhances their understanding of diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism.” 

Staff will be required to document these experiences in their annual activity reports and self-evaluations and is required in order to be considered for departmental awards and salary increases. 

Mandatory compliance with the policy will begin in the fiscal year 2023.

The school’s website said that this requirement came from the CALS Equity and Diversity Committee, which “emphasized the need for employees to understand systemic racism and to learn anti-racist practices.” 

In a July 1, 2020 letter, members of the EDC wrote that Dean Kathryn VandenBosch asked the committee “for concrete steps the college can take to combat systemic racism.” 

In response, the committee told VanderBosch that “the majority of faculty and staff are clueless about the racism in our college.” They went on, writing that the alleged victims of racism would be overburdened by the task of solving it.

“Burdening those who experience racism with the task of solving it only perpetuates this pernicious cycle,” the EDC wrote.

Assistant Vice Chancellor of University Relations, John Lucas, explained the rationale behind this new requirement to Campus Reform.

“To ensure that Wisconsin remains globally competitive in the increasingly diverse fields of agriculture and life sciences, UW-Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is providing all employees with professional development to enhance diversity and inclusion,” he said. “One of a wide variety of seminars covering many aspects of identity and background will satisfy this expectation.”

For these reasons, the EDC recommended mandatory anti-racism training for staff and faculty within the CALS department. 

In 2017, the university made diversity training a “requirement” for all incoming students, according to Campus Reformand non-compliant students will not be able to register for the following semester of classes.