The war over a racial equity plan at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln continues to escalate, with two senators calling for the resignation of UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green.
Sens. Steve Erdman of Bayard and Steve Halloran of Hastings said "it would be in the best interest" of the university and the state if Green resigned. Furthermore, they took issue with the Nebraska State College System Board of Trustees for its updated policies banning discrimination and harassment on the basis of gender identity.
The two senators suggested in an open letter that "defunding our state’s colleges and universities may be the only way we can get the attention of those who have been charged with running them."
At issue at UNL is the university's "Journey for Anti-Racism and Racial Equity," which had its roots in the outrage that followed the May 2020 murder of a Black man, George Floyd, by a White police officer in Minneapolis.
Other state senators have defended efforts to implement more equitable policies at UNL, and they blame Gov. Pete Ricketts for stoking division.
Ricketts has said he has lost confidence in Green, saying Green misled him over the racial equity plan.
During a call-in radio show Monday, Ricketts continued to apply pressure, describing UNL's efforts as "anti-American" because it focuses on race rather than individual strengths. That, he said, "undermines and betrays the whole civil rights movement.
Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh of Omaha has written Ricketts, telling him that she has been following "the divisive fearmongering rhetoric" he has been using "with increasing furor."
She told Ricketts that she fears that he is "leading our state down a dark and potentially evil path." Instead, she said, the governor should open his mind to feedback from people of color and constructive criticism from White people.
Sen. John McCollister of Omaha has said on Twitter that he stands behind Green. In his tweets, McCollister characterized Ricketts' remarks as "playing the 'Greatest Hits' of current @GOP culture war grievance politics."
Erdman and Halloran have a history of conflict with Green. In 2017, they took issue with his statements about whether conservative voices were welcome at the university.
At the time, Green told Halloran and Erdman that he found their statements "defamatory and an egregious breach of the trust that Nebraskans put in each of us."
Green declined to comment Monday evening.
UNL's equity plan would gather data on enrollment, financial aid and graduation rates. It would review hiring processes in the context of race, offer anti-racist teaching seminars to review curriculum and would work with Lincoln police on the treatment of people of color.
The report includes material from the Lincoln Journal Star.