The Wisconsin state legislature on Tuesday approved several bills that, if passed, would influence the University of Wisconsin system. Several bills out of more than a dozen total, yet to be signed by Gov. Tony Evers, would impact UW-Madison directly.
One of the bills — Senate Bill 557 — relates to “the investment of certain income from the University of Wisconsin system”. It was first introduced in September by Rep. John Macco, R-Wis.
UW-Madison College Republican co-chairman Joe Krantz worked with Macco in the State Assembly. According to Krantz, the UW system currently has a large amount of idle revenue and funding, and this bill will allow the state’s investment board to invest the money to improve campus communities.
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“I think that’s a really great thing for our state as a whole to generate revenue, invest, and create more wealth — especially for our university being the largest in the state.” Krantz said. “I think you can provide many opportunities to help grow our great university into an even bigger and better place.”
Another bill, Assembly Bill 775, concerns the planning of a new engineering building on the UW campus.
Rep. Mark Born, R-Wis, who introduced the bill, believes it will help expand the College of Engineering’s already existing impact on the state and beyond.
“Assembly Bill 775 will enable our state to continue to be a leader in training the engineers of tomorrow – meeting labor and economic demands for more engineers in our state and our nation,” Born said in an emailed statement to the Badger Herald.
These two invoices received approval of UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank. Senate Bill 557, Blank said, would provide “vital flexibility” in how UW can manage its capital, which could lead to a better return on investment. Blank said Assembly Bill 775 would provide the funding needed to develop the new Engineering Building to improve the education of engineering students, which she described as “essential for the future of the Wisconsin”.
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But another pair of higher education bills did not garner Blank’s approval, nor the support of other UW system officials.
Senate Bill 409 and Assembly Bill 884 hope eliminate course on racism in academia at UW. AB 884 states that the UW “will not permit student teaching that promotes racial or gender stereotyping in any course or as part of any program and will not require an employee to attend training that teaches, defends, acts on or promotes racial or sexual stereotyping.”
Additionally, AB 884 would allow students to take a course on the United States Constitution in place of the required courses on diversity or ethnic studies that are part of general education. Krantz said he hopes this bill will stop professors and their peers from blaming white students for the story, making them feel ashamed.
“I think it’s great to teach the real story of what happened, but you don’t have to push the narrative that white people need to somehow make up for it. the misdeeds of the past,” Krantz said.
Debates about the place of “critical race theory” — an academic framework that examines the intersection of social and racial inequalities in American institutions — in classrooms and lecture halls have continued in the legislature since the ‘last year.
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white strongly urged Evers to veto SB 409 and AB 884.
“As a university, our goal is to produce well-rounded critical thinkers; to teach our students not what to think but how to think,” Blank said in a statement. “UW’s ability to attract and retain the best and brightest faculty, staff, and students depends on an environment where academic freedom and freedom of expression are core values.”
Krantz acknowledged the gravity and damage of US history, but said he does not believe in singling out white students, noting that he personally found it “quite difficult” to voice his opinion. on certain issues because of his identity.
Hannah Menchhoff, director of rapid response for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said in a statement to the Badger Herald that Evers is focused on efforts that will improve the quality of education in the state, which is the opposite legislation pushed by the Republicans.
“While Democrats are focused on improving access and quality of public education, Republicans in the Legislature prefer to use students as political pawns and cut funding for our schools,” Menchoff said. . “While Republicans are simply trying to bring about divisive political fights in the classroom, Democratic leaders like Governor Evers are taking action on what really matters to our students and teachers.”
Earlier this month, Evers vetoed a bill similar to AB 884 that would have banned schools from including topics related to “critical race theory” in their teaching, arguing that the bill law would prevent schools from incorporating “honest and complete facts on important historical subjects”. according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
David Cannon, a UW professor in the political science department, said in an email to the Badger Herald that it’s very likely Evers will veto the two bills that Blank opposed.