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University of Nebraska Regents Paul Kenney, Rob Schafer and Jim Pillen denounced the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Journey for Anti Racism and Racial Equity action plan during a news conference at the Nebraska State Capitol Friday afternoon. The regents’ criticisms surround elements of the plan they claim are steeped in critical race theory, and they allege that the university did not involve enough members of the community in the creation of this plan.“The Board of Regents never authorized this Journey,” Kenney, chair of the board, said. “We never authorized it, and I certainly don’t endorse it.”
The three regents were the same trio that voted for Pillen’s resolution against critical race theory in August, which ultimately failed to pass the Board of Regents. The press conference followed a Board of Regents meeting Friday morning, where the plan was referenced and individuals defended UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green. At the meeting, NU President Ted Carter said there is more to be done to ensure NU is a “place of choice” for everyone, and the game for this has included being the most welcoming and inclusive place possible.Diversity and inclusion must be looked at in all forms, Carter said, which will include race.“To have these conversations, we need to get comfortable being uncomfortable because even though these are not easy things to talk about, we will be doing our students who care a great deal about this topic, and for whom we serve, as well as our state a disservice if we ignore them or stay silent,” Carter said.While the regents expressed they would like the plan to be scrapped, they did not outline any concrete actions they would take to achieve that goal. When asked for comment, Deb Fiddelke, UNL’s chief communication and marketing officer, pointed to Green’s statement earlier this week when he said critical race theory was mentioned nowhere in the plan but acknowledged miscommunication with the plan’s rollout. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has denounced the plan as well and said it’s rollout caused him to lose all faith in GreenPillen, a 2022 gubernatorial candidate, said the plan and the content within could be detrimental to the youth of the state of Nebraska, alleging it could lead to discrimination against white individuals. “I’ll be damned if my nine-year-old grandson will go to school and have to apologize for being white,” he said.
Pillen invoked his time as a member of the Cornhusker Football team in the 1970s in which he said he worked with a diverse group of individuals to achieve a common goal. This plan, however, would not achieve that desired outcome, he said. Schafer said the plan could lead to a pass/fail system at the university in the name of equity, where students are unable to distinguish themselves above others. The three regents are upset not only by the content of the plan but the process that was used to create the plan as well, saying they were “blindsided.” “The process was completely unacceptable,” Pillen said, “but the radical ideology that inspired the Journey plan was so much worse. This plan is simply wrong.”Kenney, when asked about the plan’s popularity among students, said students do not make up the entire university, and there are others who should be involved in decision making. The Association of Students of the University of Nebraska voted unanimously Wednesday to support the Journey plan with a bill written by ASUN president and UNL Student Regent Batool Ibrahim. In an interview with The Daily Nebraskan after the Board of Regents meeting Friday morning, she said the Journey has been a year-long process that has included concerns from students, faculty and staff that have long gone unaddressed.The Daily Nebraskan reached out to Ibrahim for comment specifically about the news conference but did not hear back at the time of publication. Pillen said the ideas behind the plan go by many names, though they are dangerous regardless. “Sometimes it’s called diversity and inclusion, sometimes it’s called anti-racism and sometimes it’s called critical race theory, but it’s all based on the same concept,” Pillen said, “that we should approach everything through the divisive lens of race.”When asked about support for Green, Pillen said the three regents are focused solely on policy. “No more of this Journey,” Pillen said. “No more critical race theory. This ends now. The university needs to reject this ideology and end the Journey.”[email protected] Wendling contributed to the reporting of this article.
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