The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has requested a re-do.
The board will vote at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the identical agreement it rejected on Saturday. The board will meet for the fifth time in seven days.
A compromise struck by UW System President Jay Rothman and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, asked for the restructuring and freeze of 43 diversity positions through 2026. Universities would receive $800 million in exchange for wage rises and construction projects, including an engineering facility for UW-Madison.
The board’s shocking 9-8 rejection of the agreement ended a six-month dispute with the Republican-controlled Legislature over campus diversity programs. Conservatives slammed the measure, while liberals applauded it.
The fact that a meeting has been called for Wednesday to vote on the identical motion shows that at least one board member wishes to amend their vote.
The resolution is supported by Rothman, Regents Ashok Rai, and Kyle Weatherly, both of whom voted in favor of the agreement on Saturday, and board vice president Amy Bogost, who voted against it.
Bogost did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. She is one of four appointees of Gov. Tony Evers who have yet to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate.
According to CBS-58, Senate President Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, Bogost and the other unconfirmed regents might lose their posts as soon as January.
“The Board of Regents should be able to make decisions about what’s best for our students, faculty, staff, and, ultimately, what’s best for the University of Wisconsin System without fear of threats and political pressure or retribution,” Evers said in a statement. “Rash political decisions, rhetoric, and threats help no one.”
What else is on the line? Potentially Rothman’s job. According to UW student Regent Evan Brenkus, he raised the idea of resigning from his role in the days leading up to Saturday’s meeting.
Rothman has neither confirmed nor refuted Brenkus’ assertion to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. When reporters approached him on Tuesday, he declined to respond.
“We had a closed session, and I’m not at liberty to speak about what happened,” Rothman said of his meeting with the Regents on Tuesday.
The meeting drew some criticism for taking place nearly exclusively behind closed doors. According to the schedule, the board will “deliberate and negotiate funding proposals as well as matters that require a closed session for competitive or bargaining reasons.”
Rep. Dora Drake, D-Milwaukee, described the closed-door meeting as “alarming.” She stated that the public deserved to know whether “our UW system will succumb to Republican political pressures” or whether it will continue to be devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Drake, the state’s Legislative Black Caucus leader, said the agreement betrayed students of color and created a dangerous precedent for the UW System having to negotiate each of its goals with the Legislature.
Those in support of the agreement admitted that it was flawed, but argued it would help the UW System move forward.