ASUN sig 2020

The Association of Students of the University of Nebraska executive team released a statement Monday morning opposing a proposed University of Nebraska Board of Regents critical race theory resolution planned to be introduced by Regent and gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen.

The resolution from Pillen calls for a ban against “any imposition of critical race theory” in NU curriculum. In the past weeks, faculty, administrative leaders and student-athletes have also joined in opposition against the resolution. 

ASUN’s statement states that as the elected representatives for UNL, the students oppose the resolution because it “sets a dangerous precedent by attempting to censor academic freedom in the classroom.” 

“We believe that any attempts to infringe on academic freedom directly conflict with our ideals as leaders of the student body and urge members of the Board of Regents to vote against this resolution,” the statement reads.

The students say critical race theory is a way to “understand how intersecting identities of race, class and ethnic backgrounds can be systematically disadvantaged,” and it builds upon a primary purpose of education for free study.

ASUN wants to ensure faculty of all races and all backgrounds have the opportunity to voice their opinions, as faculty are the ones teaching the next generation. ASUN states it recognizes the want for improving the future and stands with faculty in the Department of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies.

“We believe that this resolution fundamentally opposes the racial diversity, equity and inclusion goals that the University of Nebraskan [system] has prioritized over twenty years and emphasized in the summer of 2020,” the statement reads.

The resolution is expected to be voted at the Aug. 13 Board of Regents meeting, where it would need five of eight regents’ support to pass. Board of Regents policy allows student regents, including Batool Ibrahim from UNL, to voice their support, but they are considered non-voting members. This means all students could voice opposition but support of five regents would be enough. 

The resolution has allowed a political agenda to enter the classroom, where it should always be protected from, according to Ibrahim, who also serves as ASUN president. 

“When I was elected to represent the students of UNL I ran on the notion that students are our my stakeholders,” Ibrahim said. “ Now is a crucial time for students to take ownership of our leadership and speak out on an issue that will [affect] the history of our university.”

When asked about specific concerns raised by students, Pillen declined to comment further, instead reemphasizing a previous statement that as an elected member of the board, he is responsible to Nebraska citizens who expect their values to be upheld by NU.

"The imposition of Critical Race Theory on our students runs counter to those ideals by attempting to indoctrinate students and silencing their dissenting opinions," Pillen's statement reads. "This resolution affirms a fair and balanced dialogue on all issues."

If the resolution is officially added to the meeting agenda, which will be finalized on Aug. 6, Ibrahim said she plans to vote no.

“I have shared this with the other student regents as well,” Ibrahim said in a text. “UNL is not only the flagship of the University of Nebraska, but also a credited Big Ten University. This could very well [ruin] our reputation with our peer institutions.”

The ASUN executives also called for the support of recognized student organizations in opposition to the resolution. Students are urged to address the board during its public comment session at the Aug. 13 meeting, which begins at 9 a.m. Written statements can also be sent to ASUN.