In the Spirit of "Diversity", Our Wisconsin "Inclusion Program" Must Accept Christian Beliefs
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is launching the "'Our Wisconsin' All-Student Inclusion Program" this Fall. It is a "diversity" program, which, in their words, is designed to, "improve the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s campus climate, as it is one of our core beliefs that every student at UW-Madison, regardless of their background or how they may identify, should feel safe, valued, supported, and welcomed."
As Chancellor Rebecca Blank has also stated, the 'Our Wisconsin' Program is, "an effort to build understanding and community on campus in the areas of culture, identity, diversity and inclusion."
Especially given the events which transpired in Charlottesville in the last 10 days, the goal of having a campus, "where all students feel welcomed, valued, and supported," is laudable.
However, there is a grave concern that the 'Our Wisconsin' program will actually function to tamp "uniformity" into unsuspecting Freshmen, rather than encourage true "diversity".
And, indeed, that possibility is clearly there. Because, whereas we know a lot about what the program seeks to achieve, we know very little about the actual CONTENTS of the program. And, it seems as though this is by design.
There are opaque references, like those above regarding "identity", and "how [one may identify]", but it is impossible to discover, from a readily-available, public source (including the 'Our Wisconsin' webpage), what EXACTLY will form part of the curriculum.
For a state university, this is wrong.
Why? And, what is the concern?
The concern stems from the fact that many such "diversity" programs, which have been similarly rolled-out at different universities around the country, have been used, not as a means to achieve a more 'welcoming' and 'supportive' student body, but, rather, as a means to clamp-down on free speech - especially, on that of Christian students.
And, that is why it is so important to know the contents of the program...particularly, when "identity" is one of the areas upon which the university administration wants to build "understanding and community" on campus - and, especially now, when "identity" is widely understood a buzzword used in discussions around gender ideology, (an ideology) which is antithetical to a Christian understanding of human nature.
In short, "diversity" should not mean that Christian students must give up their own identities. Rather, in the spirit of "diversity", Christians - and, those with sincerely held religious beliefs - should feel to free to charitably express their opinions about controversial issues, and still be respected as a full members of the campus community.
This is one of those places where separation between Church and State is vital - in this instance, not to have the State dictating to people of faith how they practise their religion, where they practise their religion, or restricting what people of faith may say about certain issues based on their religion.
Transparency, in this case, is, therefore, essential.
Chancellor Blank has said that the program "is not mandatory, but participation is an expectation." And, although this sounds a lot like double-speak (and, beneath her as a PhD), it at least affords the opportunity to Freshmen to opt-out...BUT, only if they know beforehand about the contents of the program.
And, not only for the students, themselves...But, also their parents have a right to know, as well, as they are, more than likely, footing the bill for their child's "university experience/education." So, it is only fair that they are included in the discussion about whether the new Freshman ought to participate in a program which might be offensive to their family's religion, or to their sensibilities.
With these things in mind, this petition - which is directed to the Chancellor of UW-Madison, Dr Rebecca Blank, and Cc'ed to the UW-Madison Ombuds Team, as well as to Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker - asks that: 1) All of the contents of the "'Our Wisconsin' All-Student Inclusion Program" be made public and readily-available, and also sent to the parents of every Freshman, and, or any other students who will be exposed to the program; and, crucially, 2) In the spirit of "diversity", that the contents of the program will expressly vindicate the right of Christians - and, those with sincerely held religious beliefs - to freely, but charitably, express their opinions about controversial issues, and still be respected as full members of the campus community.
Thank you for signing this petition!
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