UW-Madison's ninny-nannies...

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Did you know "alma mater" means "nursing mother"? My own alma maters include tooo many schools, but I must mention University of Wisconsin (Madison).

It was UW-Madison that gifted Donna Shalala to President Clinton's cabinet where she served alongside It-Takes-a-Village Hillary Clinton and It-Takes-Tanks-and-Napalm Janet Reno. Before leaving for D.C., Shalala was UW-Madison's chancellor and, during her tenure there, she channelled her maternal instinct by passing a speech control policy so safe that English profs were left with three books still allowed on their reading lists: Pat the Bunny, Velveteen Rabbit, and Love You Forever. Under the heading "Unprotected Expressive Behavior Subject to Discipline," Shalala threatened verbal bullies and gesticulators thusly...

A faculty or academic staff member's expressive behavior in an instructional setting may be the basis for discipline if ...the behavior is commonly considered by persons of a particular gender, race, cultural background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or handicap to be demeaning to members of that group, and ...the conduct makes the instructional setting hostile or intimidating, or demeaning to members of the group of average sensibilities.

Shalala declared her come-to-mommy-and-let-me-kiss-your-owie rules would be enforced in both "instructional" and "noninstructional settings." UW-Madison employees were left with precious few places to exercise the freedoms granted by our Bill of Rights. Since the adoption of Shalala's rules in the late eighties, Madison's speech police have been filing charges, collecting evidence and witnesses, holding trials, making pronouncements of guilt, carrying out censures, and implementing disciplinary actions. 

Still today UW-Madison profs are trying to repeal Shalala's schoolmarmish hate-speech rules, but it hardly matters since President Obama is busy remaking all of America into a "safe place." Speaking of which, UW-Madison is at it again. Earlier this year administrators and faculty adopted policies requiring profs to become even more sensitive. The new policy statement was introduced with...

the statement:

The work of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee has been completed as of May 16, 2014. The committee’s report has been passed through four major shared governance groups. The report, a successor to initiatives including Plan 2008, is intended to help members of the campus community contribute to making UW-Madison more equitable, inclusive, and diverse, both on campus and in the Greater Madison Community.

Note that UW's administrators are not content with their campus domain there at the foot of State Street, but they intend to expand their vision until it encompasses all of Madison. (They called it "the Greater Madison Community" because Madison is the capital—or rather the CAPITAL—of Wisconsin.)

Where and when does this new policy apply?

I'm left scratching my head and hoping our readers can explain it to me:

Although the report is considered complete, the implementation process is in an early phase. Designed as an iterative framework, the report is meant to guide more flexible discussions and act as a support structure, not a rigid set of rules. The report came about following many campus and community engagement sessions soliciting comments and feedback on the state of diversity at UW–Madison. A draft report took shape during the early part of the spring semester, and made its way through shared governance groups. A second draft was distributed more broadly and used as the basis for engagement sessions on campus and in the community in early April. Votes in shared governance assemblies took place between late April and mid-May. Following several days of negotiation, ASM voted to accept the document with changes on April 26. On May 5, the Faculty Senate voted to accept the document with two amendments. On May 12, Academic Staff Assembly approved the document with one of the Faculty Senate amendments, but rejected the second amendment. On May 8, CSEC voted to acknowledge receipt of the document, although it did not expressly vote to approve it. Because of the way the report is structured, CSEC and other groups will still be able to discuss its content and offer suggestions as to how the implementation process should take place. Further feedback regarding changes will be considered through the implementation groups, rather than the Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee. Implementation of the report’s recommendations will start in the Summer of 2014, with collaborative work between the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, the Office of the Chancellor and the Campus Diversity and Climate Committee, among other groups.

Oh my.

Moving on, the document "Forward Together: A Framework for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence" contains this "expanded definition of diversity":

...this framework acknowledges areas of individual difference in personality; learning styles; life experiences; and group or social  differences that may manifest through personality, learning styles, life experiences, and group or social differences. Our definition of diversity also incorporates  differences of race and ethnicity; sex; gender, and gender identity or expression; age, sexual orientation; country of origin; language; disability; emotional health; socio-economic status; and affiliations that are based on cultural, political, religious, or other identities. 

In which no child left behind comes to higher education.

The document's Executive Summary contains this:

3.The social justice rational recognizes the need to increase higher educational opportunities historically underrepresent in, or excluded from higher education.

One sentence with two words misspelled leaves me thinking maybe their social justice isn't so rationale after all? And maybe more overrepresent than underrepresent, eh?

The rest of the document is the sort of drivel from which academic nincompoops derive their meaning in life. Here is a sampling:

The Ad Hoc Diversity Planning Committee framework is driven by dynamic, iterative work, for the purpose of embedding inclusivity and diversity into the fabric of campus culture. It is a “living document” that will be regularly examined, to ensure that recommended action steps are adaptable and adapted to changing environments and needs. Therefore, diversity and climate initiatives are considered within a typology of “low hanging fruit,” (i.e., on-going initiatives that can be ramped up immediately or in the short-term), as well as longer-term initiatives that require further planning and organization. 


...the university will remain a preeminent center for discovery, learning, and engagement by opening new forms of access to people from every background; creating a welcoming, empowered, and inclusive community; and preparing current and future generations to live satisfying, useful, and ethical lives. In partnership with state, and with colleagues around the nation and globe, the university’s faculty, staff, and students will identify and address many of the state’s and the world’s most urgent and complex problems.


Meeting the challenges of the 21st century and seizing the opportunities available to our campus in the creative and innovative ways outlined in the in these rationales requires the university to draw upon and expand the diversity of its students and workforce in the pursuit of excellence. 


Guide the development of best practices aimed at achieving overarching goals related to diversity, equity, and inclusion for all members of the university community and aimed at engendering a culture of mutual responsibility for integrating and embodying Inclusive Excellence.


At UW-Madison, our shared governance infrastructure is comprised of four constituencies: faculty, students, and staff. 


We foresee constituency representation emanating either in the form of existing or newly created committees that represent diversity within each of the four shared  governance constituencies.


Ethnic studies courses have shown to have measurable, positive impacts on student proficiency in the Ethnic Studies learning outcomes. Having studies enroll in these courses earlier in their studies may work to improve campus climate. Further, enrolling in major-specific ethnic studies courses can increase interest and enthusiasm, improving learning outcomes. 

From the above, readers may conclude I read the document and pulled out every error. Neither is true. I only skimmed the document and there remain many errors awaiting our readers' attention. Take a gander.

After a couple years in Bloomington I began to say that college courses are all remedial, now.

It's gotten worser.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!