University of Colorado regents reject resolution preventing consideration of race, gender in decisions

A resolution that would have prevented the University of Colorado from considering race, ethnicity and gender in its decision making was rejected 6-3 Friday by regents

“I’m not opposed to critical race theory being taught on college campuses as part of the larger curriculum and debate,” the resolution’s sponsor, Republican Regent Heidi Ganahl, said. “However, I do not believe CRT should be a guiding principle in any of our hiring, training and administrative policies.”

CU interim president Todd Saliman and CU-Boulder chancellor Phil Distefano said academic freedom and non-discrimination already are part of regent laws and policies.

“What I am proposing would protect our teachers and students from discrimination for any reason,” Ganahl, who is running for governor, told the Denver Post. Describing herself as “a defender of freedom of thought,”  Ganahl said, “We need to teach our CU students how to think and not what to think.” She said her “free exchange of ideas and prohibition of certain mandatory training” measure would prevent “discriminatory policies.”

The resolution would have prohibited factoring in race, ethnicity and gender at CU in hiring faculty and staff, running school programs and evaluating students, faculty and staff.

Critical race theory is an academic concept used to understand the effects of slavery and racism in the United States. It treats racism as something embedded in legal systems and policies.

At a regents committee meeting last month, CU academic leaders presented a summary of “Diversity Equity and Inclusion Education” and “Teaching Critical Race Theory” on the CU Boulder campus.

That’s when Ganahl first proposed and sought support for her resolution.

The measure asserts “there is evidence that mandated diversity and bystander training can create a hostile work environment” that has led to lawsuits against universities and reputational damage.

It would prohibit CU employees from enforcing any “discriminatory and prejudicial attitudes” including: notions that one race or gender is superior; that anybody “is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously”; that any person by virtue of race, ethnicity or gender bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by others of that race, ethnicity, or gender;  that anybody should be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or other distress due to race, ethnicity, or gender;  that “meritocracy or other positive traits such as a hard work, patriotism, and religious ethics” were created “to oppress members of another race.”

At the same meeting, Regent Ilana Spiegel, a Democrat, proposed a resolution to declare critical race theory “a legitimate field of academic inquiry and discourse.” Neither measure gained majority committee support. CU rules let regents bring resolutions forward to regular full meetings even if they don’t win committee support. Spiegel decided not to bring her measure to Friday’s general meeting and denounced Ganahl’s measure as “a political stunt” and “a distraction.”

Regents Sue Sharkey, Chance Hill and Ganahl voted in favor of the resolution on Friday.

Board of Regents chairman Jack Kroll, who opposed Ganal’s resolution, told the Post it would set back efforts to increase diversity

“Diversity, equity and inclusion has been at the fore of my service to the University of Colorado, and we have a great deal of work that still needs to be done,” he said. This resolution “would not move us forward.”

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