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Tool of the Week: Cowering UW System

Empower Wisconsin  | April 11, 2022

The University of Wisconsin System has long been a den of radical left indoctrination, paid for in no small part by Wisconsin taxpayers.

It has grotesquely transformed the “Wisconsin Idea” into a leftist looking glass, canceling conservative thought and action — or any viewpoint opposed to its socialist group think.

But now any pretense of intellectual freedom has disappeared. The UW System which pretends it’s committed to academic freedom isn’t strong enough to stand by the production of a student survey on free speech.

The privately funded survey, titled “Student Perceptions of their First Amendment Free Speech Rights, Viewpoint Diversity, and Self-Censorship,” was supposed to go out last week. But then University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Chancellor Jim Henderson had a hissy fit about the content and origin of the survey and resigned his post. He didn’t like that the UW System didn’t back him in his opposition to the questionnaire, financed by donations from the Menard Center “from the family of Wisconsin billionaire John Menard,” as Wisconsin Public Radio reported.  Menard, a conservative and Trump supporter, is, of course, despised by the left and their publicly subsidized institutions of higher education.

Tim Shiell, UW-Stout professor and director of the campus’ Menard Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation, has been working on the survey for months.

After the weak-kneed UW System started feeling uncomfortable, Shiell announced the free speech survey would be delayed until next fall.

In a statement, UW System interim President Michael Falbo said chancellors raised concerns and he decided the system wouldn’t participate. Then, upon actually asking some questions about it, Falbo said he “felt more comfortable with the survey and its timing.”

But all the outrage from the usual leftist suspects has forced the delay of an important research project.

“The extra time will enable us to answer fully and accurately the avalanche of questions arising and lay the groundwork for a successful survey,” Falbo wrote in a statement to WPR.

A representative for AFT said the system’s teachers union remains “deeply concerned by the possibility that partisan political interests sought to pressure system administration into sending the survey over the objections of campus chancellors.”

That’s funny. Conservative lawmakers, concerned parents and fed-up taxpayers have long been concerned that liberal partisan political interests have dominated administration and education on Wisconsin’s campuses. And they have been particularly concerned about the destruction of free speech and academic freedom.

Falbo, in the interest of the First Amendment, should have stood up to the whining chancellors. In the interest of academic freedom, he should have demanded that a survey approved by the universities’ own Institutional Review Boards move forward on schedule.

Let’s face it. The UW System is afraid of what the survey will find: That students who don’t toe the leftist line understandably feel they are silenced or marginalized at their schools.

The UW System has long been an apologist and a tool of the radical left.

This week, the silencing system is Empower Wisconsin’s Tool of the Week.

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