UW will not cut DEI positions, despite pressure

A UW-Madison official confirmed yesterday that the university will not cut diversity, equity and inclusion positions, despite pressure from Republicans.

Lori Reesor, UW-Madison vice chancellor for student affairs, confirmed the decision to not cut DEI positions Wednesday night at the Associated Students of Madison, the Daily Cardinal reported.

“It’s really important with the things that are happening in the world — whether it’s some of the legislation that’s happening in Wisconsin or the budget cut as a result of DEI — we are not cutting the DEI positions,” Reesor said in her introductory remarks to the Associated Students of Madison (ASM), as reported by the Daily Cardinal.

The university has pushed back against the budding national trend of DEI cuts which left multiple DEI officials from UW System fearful for their jobs, and against sharp criticism of DEI efforts from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).

Vos pushed for UW System to cut out 188 DEI positions — a $32 million cut from the overall operating budget of $6.57 billion — but offered that the university system could recoup the loss in funding if it submits a plan to use the money for workforce development programs. Gov. Tony Evers’ partial veto allowed UW System officials to absorb cuts as they see fit.

Among the proposed 188 DEI job cuts, 73 were at UW-Madison with wages totaling to over $6.5 million, according to a full list of DEI related positions and salaries obtained by Blueprint365 from the office of the UW System.

It is currently unclear whether other universities in the UW System will follow suit with UW-Madison’s decision to keep DEI positions.UW-Oshkosh is currently facing an $18 million budget hole from a combination of declining enrollment, state support, a state-mandated tuition freeze and increased operating costs due to inflation. The university has eight DEI positions up for cuts with wages totaling $529,817.