MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two top state Republicans are criticizing mandatory University of Wisconsin-Madison sexual violence prevention training that includes references to privilege, identity and critical race theory.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Tuesday wrote a letter to the school chancellor demanding answers on why graduate students are required to watch the two-hour webinar that university spokesperson John Lucas said includes “a brief reference” to critical race theory, which he said is supported by academic research and noted in the citations.
Critical race theory is an academic framework that centers on the idea that racism is systemic in U.S. institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people. It has become a catch-all political buzzword for any teaching in schools about race and American history and conservatives have seized on it to galvanize their base.
Vos said it was “unacceptable” and “appalling” to mandate a class that “instills the university’s negative opinion of white students and the idea that students should feel guilty simply because of their race.”
Gubernatorial candidate and former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch first drew attention to the training in a video she posted on Facebook last month. She said it showed universities supported by taxpayer dollars indoctrinating students to their liberal beliefs, the Wisconsin State-Journal reported.
Kleefisch listed banning critical race theory among her top priorities when she announced her campaign for governor.
UW-Madison grad students cannot enroll in courses for the following semester unless they complete the training or receive an exemption from it, Lucas said on Wednesday. No final scores are recorded, but students need to select the correct answers in each module to progress through the training.
The reference to critical race theory has been included in the training since it went live in 2017, Lucas said, adding that “offering a webinar like this is an important part of the university’s sexual violence prevention efforts.”