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Conservative backlash comes after UNL releases diversity plan

Posted at 6:23 PM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 19:23:31-05

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln released a diversity and inclusion plan this week and they say these are not empty words, they’re committed to action.

The diversity and inclusion plan aims to set a level playing field for minority students and staff at UNL.

“We’re committed to fostering an inclusive climate where everyone feels that they belong and they matter,” said Ronnie Green, chancellor of UNL.

The plan includes recruiting and maintaining more students and staff of color, prioritizing diversity when solving academic challenges and supporting students of color through new programs.

“We see diversity and talent not being separate things, that top talent does include diversity,” said Marco Baker, vice-president for diversity and inclusion at UNL.

After last year, more institutions like UNL have been releasing similar plans. Executive Director of Inclusive Communities Maggie Wood says it’s important to confront racial inequity, especially in a public way in which there is accountability.

“The fact that it’s public and that it’s a commitment says something for it to be institutionalized,” said Wood.

But one member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, Jim Pillen, who’s also running for governor, says the board didn’t approve or know about the plan until it was released.

“To call Nebraska students and staff racist is wrong. To give preferential treatment in hiring based on race is wrong,” said Pillen in a statement.

Governor Pete Ricketts also chimed in with similar language to his critique of critical race theory.

“It will pit people against each other by conditioning everyone to see others through the lens of race rather than as individuals with unique strengths. UNL’s focus should be on educational excellence, not ideological indoctrination,” said Ricketts.

He then pointed to UNL’s opposition to banning the imposition of critical race theory on campus.

“We now know why the UNL administration was so opposed to the Board of Regents resolution that would have banned CRT from being applied at the University,” said Ricketts.

Wood says teaching about racial inequity doesn’t hurt the students' education.

“There’s no evidence that teaching about racial inequality or equity will lower academic excellence.”

READ MORE: N2026 Strategic Plan

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