At a University of Colorado Board of Trustees committee meeting on Tuesday, political discourse on critical race theory came to the fore – and featured a candidate for governor.
CU regent Heidi Ganahl, who recently joined the Republican primary as governor, proposed a resolution that would have prohibited university administrators, professors and staff from applying “discriminatory or harmful attitudes” based on race, ethnicity or gender. The resolution would have defined such attitudes to include:
- That one race or gender is inherently superior to another
- That an individual, because of their race or gender, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously
- That an individual should be the target of discrimination and unfavorable treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity or gender
- That members of a race, ethnicity or gender cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect for race, ethnicity or gender
- Whether the moral character of an individual is determined by race, ethnicity or gender
- That an individual, because of his or her own race, ethnicity or gender, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, ethnicity or gender
- That everyone must experience discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race, ethnicity or gender
- That traits such as meritocracy, hard work, patriotism, and religious ethics are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race
The university affairs committee was divided over whether to recommend the resolution to the full board of regents, with Ganahl and Republican regent Chance Hill in favor, and Democratic regents Callie Rennison and Ilana Dubin Spiegel opposed it. . The 2-2 vote means the resolution has not been formally recommended by the committee, but could theoretically still be passed by the board.
“Discrimination in any form is contrary to the values ââof our university, our state and our nation,” said the resolution proposed by Ganahl.
The resolution went on to say: “There is evidence that mandatory diversity and witness training can create a hostile work environment and such programs have already resulted in federal lawsuits for discrimination against universities and employers and damage to workers. the reputation of institutions. “
It is difficult to find examples of prosecutions involving diversity training that resulted in a favorable outcome for the complainant.
The US Department of Justice, under former President Donald Trump, sent a letter to the city of Seattle in 2020 raising questions about anti-racist training sessions that separated employees by race. The trainings aimed to teach employees how they could internalize notions of racial hierarchy.
Officials at the Justice Department’s Employment Disputes Section requested information from the city to determine whether it had violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Ganahl does not normally sit on the University Affairs Committee of the Board of Regents, but has been appointed by Board Chairman Jack Kroll, a Democrat, to replace Republican Regent Sue Sharkey on the committee for Tuesday only.
Before the vote, Spiegel argued that Ganahl’s resolution was “politically motivated.”
The resolution was in line with the popular conservative argument that education and training on systemic racism – often referred to as “critical race theory” in legal and political discourse – would unfairly demonize white students and oppress students from across the country. color, teaching them how pervasive discrimination is in America’s social systems such as housing, banking, and employment have aggravated some groups and benefited others, based on race or ethnicity.
Spiegel brought his own resolution to the committee that would have the Board of Regents recognize critical race theory as “a legitimate area of ââacademic research and discourse” and denounce “any effort to prevent or limit” its teaching. . A motion to recommend this resolution to the full board also failed on a 2-2 vote, with Spiegel and Rennison in favor, and Ganahl and Hill against. Like Ganahl’s, Spiegel’s resolution could still go to the full board of regents for a vote without the committee’s recommendation.
Conservative opposition to critical race theory has led to growing threats to K-12 teachers and school board members. On Monday, the Justice Department asked the FBI to meet with local governments and law enforcement to discuss strategies to deal with such threats.
“Threats against public officials are not only illegal, they go against the core values ââof our country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote in a memorandum to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Ganahl is the only remaining Republican to hold a position in the entire state of Colorado, and she is so far the most prominent member of her party to challenge Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in 2022.