The Board of Directors of the University of Nebraska System voted to reject one of the members’ anti-critical race theory proposals on Friday.Different from many states Legislation prohibits mandatory training in critical racial theory, The Nebraska proposal clearly opposes “imposing” critical racial theories through the curriculum.

“The United States is the best country in the world, anyone can realize the American dream here,” solve, Written by Regent Jim Pillen. “Critical racial theory attempts to suppress opposition and devalue important American ideals,” while the Nebraska Regency “opposes imposing critical racial theory on curriculum, training, and planning.”

After several hours of discussion, the proposal was opposed by 3-5 votes. Students, faculty, dean, board of directors and its four non-voting student members, and system president Ted Carter all participated in the discussion. Except for a few comments, everyone else opposed the resolution, which echoed the sentiments of many student and faculty groups who opposed it before the vote.

Academic freedom is at stake

Caleb Hendrickson, an undergraduate student at the Kearney campus in Nebraska, told the board during the public comment period: “Today this may be a critical racial theory, but tomorrow it will become another topic that is considered not to meet American standards. “I am standing in front of all of you as a student of UNK. But more importantly, I am a child from rural Nebraska, one of the thousands of people in our great country, since I was 5 years old We will be able to learn freely through our public education system and grow old. I hope you can all see the importance of maintaining the integrity of our education, as history tells us, instead of our government deciding what we can and cannot hear .”

Jeannette Eileen Jones, associate professor of history and racial studies at the flagship Lincoln campus, said it is “dishonest” to portray discussions involving critical racial theory or race in general as divisive or anti-American.

Jones said: “Our job is not to teach lies about American history or any other history in the world.” “What we want is for our students to think about history critically. One of the things we have to talk about is thought, race The history of sex, gender, sex—any thought that enters our political thinking. Our intellectual history must be debated.”

Jones said that without this kind of debate, “we treat our students as if they were babies and children.”

Regina Werum, professor of sociology at Lincoln University and the outgoing chairman of the campus advocacy chapter of the American Association of University Professors, told the board members that they “have a responsibility to respect and protect the mission of the institution.” When “we all tell you the same information, maybe you will listen. “Verum continued. Critical race theory” is not an ideology. It is a theory. It is part of our toolbox. Saying anything else means that you are distorting it to the public and that you are disrespectful of your teachers. Please listen to us. .”

Carter had previously opposed the resolution in a resolution open letter Signed by all four campus principals in Nebraska, telling the board that critical racial theory and other ideas are being introduced to students in some courses. But it “is not imposed on undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral level students at the University of Nebraska,” he said.

“Trust” students and teachers

He said the resolution also “gave the impression that we do not trust teachers.” “We must support academic freedom.”

Republican Pillen is currently running for governor to replace another The voice supporters of the resolution, Republican Governor Pete Ricketts with a limited term. Before the vote, Pilen stated that his resolution has “clearly defined scope and mission to prevent the agency from imposing an extreme ideology that most Nebraskas believe is discriminatory, divisive, and contrary to our way of life.” .”

Other board members disagreed, saying that the scope of the proposal has not yet been determined and its purpose is also questionable. Regent Elizabeth O’Connor, who voted against the proposal, said: “I asked in the committee to clarify certain clauses in the resolution because I think it’s too vague and meaningless. But I think that’s the point. ——It left just enough space to protect itself.”

Regent Timothy F. Clare also voted against the proposal, saying: “As a board of directors, we are asked to take unprecedented action. We are asked to consider a policy that has such a view, And it may be the reality that actually limits what students at the University of Nebraska can or cannot learn when they are educated.”

Many members of the board praised the meeting room and their colleagues for being able to have a long discussion on a controversial issue. System Chairman Carter said: “Today, the country is watching us. As far as I know, no publicly elected board of directors has discussed this topic. Twenty states tried to pass legislation to exclude critical racial theory, but no one did it. Have a truly meaningful conversation.”

Damage caused

The discussion was not without tension. Several student commentators accused Pilen of drafting a proposal for something he didn’t really understand to advance his political campaign, not the mission of the university.

Some students and graduates of color also said they were hurt or disappointed that the board was seriously considering a proposal to limit discussions on how race affects life in the country. Critical race theory originated from critical legal theory decades ago, and its center is institutional rather than personal racism.

Ibraheem Hamzat, right, a black graduate of Lincoln campus in 2020, a second-year medical student at the University of Chicago, he said: “What makes me most painful is that deep down in your heart, you know it is meaningless. You know the requirements of American history. We consider critical racial theories. If we do not consider how the legal system affects the black and brown races and indigenous peoples of this country, we cannot consider American history.”

Hamzart said his medical interests were partly inspired by a course he took at Lincoln University that used critical racial theory to examine differences in health outcomes recorded between ethnic groups in the United States. He directly told Pillen, “I think if you choose this class, you might not write this resolution.”

Even if the board of directors voted to veto it, some people in Nebraska still believe it caused serious damage to the university.

Julia Schlake, associate professor of English at Lincoln University Who wrote it Resolution on AAUP academia The blogger said that she was “very proud to hear our students’ voices so strongly opposed to this resolution.”

One might say, “The attack on the university’s commitment to academic freedom and the study of race and racism unites us and motivates us to uphold our values,” she added.

At the same time—despite the regent’s optimistic statement about the tone of the debate—the discussion “has not strengthened the university,” Schreck said. “It clearly shows that some leaders of our board of directors do not actually understand how to protect academic freedom, even though they have invoked it. It has, despite the number of votes, impaired our ability to recruit and retain the best talent from across the country and Students, faculty and staff worldwide.” Agents will “act with integrity in their role and focus on the best interests of the university”, which undermines trust.

Schreck added that, especially for scholars who teach race issues, “the whole incident caused a chill and made those faculty and staff — all of us, really — hard to get rid of.”

Nuri Heckler, an assistant professor of public administration who studies whiteness and masculinity, said the vote removed concerns about his ability to stay in Nebraska for the foreseeable future because of his job requirements. He teaches critical racial theory. He also said that even before the resolution debate, the work was very challenging because “it’s never been a comfortable thing, especially for white students. Some people tend to postpone it in the first place. “

Now I know that “some people are trying to grab you to do something controversial-this will definitely have some chilling effects for me,” the white Heckler said. “In any case, I will have to move on. But I am particularly worried about my colleagues of color and how this will affect their teaching ability.”

The vote of the Regent did a concrete thing: to make Lincoln Campus regain the favor of the National AAUP.Before Pillen’s proposal, the group Have been preparing The Lincoln Campus was removed from its list of institutions condemned for allegedly violating academic freedom, which was added to the list after an incident in 2018. But while Pillen’s proposal was pending, negotiations to remove the university from the blacklist ceased.

National AAUP senior program officer Mark Criley stated that the organization “will now definitely resume work with the UNL government to cancel the condemnation. The Regent’s resolution is the only reason these efforts have been put on hold.”

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