Efforts to enhance diversity at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln have come under fire from the state’s Republican governor, who has attacked the initiative as ideological indoctrination.
Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts blasted the initiative in a Monday news release and press conference, describing the effort as “promoting discrimination against white people.” Ricketts also alleged that UNL chancellor Ronnie Green misled him about the purpose of the initiative. “I have lost all faith in Ronnie Green and I don’t believe anything he says anymore,” Ricketts told local media. Ricketts added that “antiracism is critical race theory,” linking the initiative to the legal theory that has been a lightning rod for controversy and come under fire in state legislatures.
Ricketts also described the effort at UNL as being rooted in Marxism and Communism.
The plan—which UNL has dubbed a Journey for Anti-Racism and Racial Equity—groups action items under five themes, all centered around advancing diversity and inclusion. The UNL website notes that this effort grew out of racial tensions that erupted in summer 2020, when George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was murdered by police, sparking nationwide demonstrations.
In an open letter, University of Nebraska system president Ted Carter defended the initiative and pointed to significant disparities between white students and minorities in earning college degrees in the state. He also noted the “passionate opinions” surrounding the issue while highlighting the need to take action: “Making certain Nebraska is a place where everyone can succeed is critical to maintaining our growth and competitiveness for future generations. As Nebraska’s university, founded on the principle that opportunity should be extended to all, we have a special responsibility to help set the standard. Nebraska can lead the way—but we will not move the needle if we do nothing.”