Diversity efforts and critical race theory at the University of Colorado will be put to a board of regents vote in November after the Republican and Democratic regents presented opposing resolutions at a committee meeting this week.
At a meeting of the University Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Republican Regent Heidi Ganahl presented a resolution on “recognizing the free exchange of ideas and banning certain compulsory training programs” while Democratic Regent Ilana Spiegel presented a resolution on “recognizing critical race theory as a legitimate area of ââacademic research and discourse.
The committee vote was split along party lines, with Ganahl and Republican Regent Chance Hill voting for Ganahl’s motion and against Spiegel’s, while Spiegel and Regent Callie Rennison voted against Ganahl’s motion and en favor of that of Spiegel.
In an interview, Spiegel said Ganahl’s resolution is “a presidential decree from Trump presented as a regent resolution and aimed at scoring political points in a political race.”
Ganahl is running for governor and Spiegel referred to an executive order from President Donald Trump in September 2020 that was later overturned by the Biden administration.
In an email to the camera, Ganahl wrote that she used to fight for freedom in the CU system.
âThis resolution is based on and designed to ensure the idea that everyone is equal and should be treated this way,â Ganahl wrote. “We are not proposing to change the law or CU policy.”
Ganahl’s resolution does not directly refer to critical race theory.
âWe focus on the fundamental principles and the principles of equality for all,â she wrote. âOur proposal has nothing to do with critical race theory. We want to avoid politically charged phrases like this and promote healing rather than division. “
Ganahl’s resolution states that there is evidence that requiring diversity and witness training can create a hostile work environment and “no student enrolled at the University of Colorado will be required to engage in any form of formation that stereotypes or caricatures members of any race, ethnicity, religion, political philosophy or affiliation.
In an email to the camera, Ganahl provided links to articles on state and federal lawsuits and complaints regarding diversity programs and critical race theory.
The resolution further states that while “all concepts and ideas will always remain subjects of unfettered investigation and study … no teacher, administrator or other employee of the University of Colorado will attempt to impose through programs. mandatory rating or training of discriminatory and prejudicial attitudes towards any race. , ethnicity or gender.
According to the resolution, âdiscriminatory and harmful attitudesâ include the idea that a person is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive because of their race or gender; that a person bears responsibility for acts committed in the past by members of his same race, ethnicity or sex; and that a person must experience discomfort, guilt, anguish or psychological distress because of their race, ethnicity or gender.
The list of discriminatory and harmful attitudes also includes “that meritocracy or other positive traits such as 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 â.
Spiegel’s resolution affirms the board’s commitment to academic freedom and faculty members are free from pressure from the administration or the board.
Spiegel’s resolution also includes the board denouncing “any effort to prevent or limit the teaching of critical race theory at the University of Colorado or other institutions of higher education,” and states that this contradicts regent policy.
Spiegel said she knew Ganahl’s resolution was coming and contacted several times to work together and discuss it.
“For me, this resolution aims to affirm the board’s commitment to political governance and not the spirit of political games by recognizing that we may disagree on academic theories and concepts, but we will not censor conflicting theories, methods, data or opinions, âshe said.
The resolutions sparked concern among students, said Holly Olivarez, CU Boulder graduate student and organizer of diversifyCUnow, especially because students were not aware of them until Monday afternoon.
Olivarez described the language in Ganahl’s resolution as “extremely problematic” and said, as a person of color, that it was hurtful to read.
âThis is theatrical politics at the expense of the CU community and in particular (blacks, indigenous peoples of color) of the BIPOC members of our community,â she said, referring to the two resolutions.
“I understand that they (the Democrats) have good intentions,” she said, “but if they really engaged with the people at BIPOC, they might have a better strategy than a counter-resolution. who asserts what is true, and they would actually do the job they said they were going to do.
In response, Spiegel said upholding the university’s principles and mission is part of the board’s job.