Category Archives: Race, Equity and Diversity

Woke Bloat at Virginia’s Universities

by James A. Bacon

Step aside California! Public universities in Virginia have built larger diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracies than taxpayer-funded universities in any other state, concludes a new backgrounder by The Heritage Foundation. The DEI bureaucracy at the University of Virginia includes 94 employees listed on its website, says the report. Virginia Tech has 83 DEI personnel, while George Mason University has 69.

Expressed as a ratio of DEI bureaucrats to tenure-track faculty members, GMU earned the top spot as DEI top-heavy, with a ratio 0f 7.4 to 100. UVa was close behind with 6.5, while Tech was 5.6. In comparison, uber-woke Cal Berkeley has a 6.1 per 100 ratio.

(I’ll have to stop making quips about UVa being the Berkeley of the East Coast. From now on I’ll describe Berkeley as the UVa of the West Coast.) Continue reading

How Many UVa Students Feel Sense of “Belonging”?

by James A. Bacon

As the University of Virginia Board of Visitors grapples with contentious issues such as equity, inclusion and racial preferences, it could benefit by knowing how well the policies of the Ryan administration have succeeded or failed in making UVa a more welcoming place for students across “every possible dimension” of diversity, to use President Jim Ryan’s words.

The administration possesses considerable data to answer the question. During the final year of the Sullivan administration, 2018, the university conducted a comprehensive, in-depth “campus climate” survey. Since then, the university has participated in biennial surveys conducted under the auspices of the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) consortium, which, th0ugh less comprehensive than the 2018 effort and fraught with discontinuities in the questions asked, does contain useful information.

The university’s office of Institutional Research & Analysis posted results for 2022 for public viewing in August. The graphic below summarizes student responses to the statement, “I feel I belong at university.”

Three of five (60%) students agreed or strongly agreed with the sentiment that they belonged at UVa. Seventeen percent expressed various degrees of disagreement. 

Is that a good finding or a bad finding? It depends on context. Continue reading

Tech to End Racial and Legacy Preferences in Admissions

I have cross-posted this article about Virginia Tech’s admissions policy from Bacon’s Rebellion. Tech is a peer institution, and its restatement of admissions policy sets an expectation that the University of Virginia should as well. The views expressed here are my own, not those of the Jefferson Council. — JAB

by James A. Bacon

In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Virginia Tech has announced that it will eliminate race and legacy status as factors in admissions. Information about an individual’s race/ethnicity will no longer be visible during the application process.

“Much of our recent success in attracting and graduating students from underrepresented minority and underserved backgrounds (including low-income, first generation and veteran students) has been achieved by lowering barriers to admissions, creating effective pre-college programs, and supporting our students while on campus,” said President Tim Sands. “We will increase our emphasis on those programs and support mechanisms going forward.”

These changes strike me as a reasonable compromise in response to the Supreme Court ruling. Dropping race and ethnicity as factors in admissions ends the invidious practice of explicit discrimination on the basis of race. It represents a huge defeat for “anti-racists” who believe that the only antidote to past discrimination against minorities is reverse discrimination in their favor.

Tech has coupled that decision with a formal end to favoring legacies. Given the fact that legacies are disproportionately White, the symbolic value is huge. Continue reading

UVa Board Should Demand Transparency on Racial-Preference Initiatives

Last week Jefferson Council President Tom Neale sent the following letter to University of Virginia Rector Robert Hardie, members of the Board of Visitors, and selected UVa administrative officials. 

July 25, 2023

Dear Mr. Hardie:

I am the President of The Jefferson Council for the University of Virginia, and am writing you regarding what we believe to be an egregious contravention of academic governance by Provost Ian Baucom.

In a presentation to the Faculty Senate on October 11, 2022, Provost Baucom described between $20 and $40 million in initiatives to recruit graduate students and faculty from “under-represented” racial/ethnic groups. When describing these and other academic initiatives to the Board of Visitors in its March 2023 meeting, however, he never alluded to the scope of the programs, or the racial preferences embedded in them.

For most of the year, the U.S. Supreme Court was widely expected to issue a ruling restricting the use of race as a factor in college admissions. Mr. Baucom had been cognizant enough of the debatable legality of the programs to seek guidance from the University Counsel, yet he failed to mention these concerns – or the nature of the University Counsel’s guidance, if any — in his presentation to the Board. Continue reading

Setting the Stage for the Great Race-in-Admissions Debate

Should admissions be color blind?

by James A. Bacon

People have been asking me what I think about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting colleges and universities from using race as a specific basis for admitting students. I’m not a legal scholar, so I won’t offer any opinions on the legal or constitutional merits of the decision. I speak as a citizen.

My sense is that the Court has made a huge step forward in the generations-long campaign to build a color-blind society. If you share the ideal that a man should be judged by the content of his character, not the color of his skin, you will applaud the ruling regardless of its legalities. And if you believe that the condition of Blacks and Hispanics can be elevated in American society only through preferential treatment of their race and ethnicity, you will see it as a blow in furtherance of White supremacy.

The immediate impact will be to generate waves of punditry on how colleges and universities should implement the ruling — or evade it. Prevailing commentary seems to hold that most university administrators will “take a hard look” at their admissions policies, then tweak them to accomplish what they want — higher percentages of Blacks and Hispanics — without triggering lawsuits.

That certainly seems to be the case at the University of Virginia, where President Jim Ryan and Provost Ian Baucom have said in a statement to the university community that they will follow the law but also “continue to do everything within our legal authority to recruit and admit a class of students who are diverse across every possible dimension and to make every student feel welcome and included here at UVA.” Continue reading

How Wokeism Is Ruining Medicine

Stanley Goldfarb

by James A. Bacon

The Woke Revolution’s takeover of K-12 schools, the criminal justice system, higher ed, the media, the military, the C-suite, museums other cultural institutions has been highly visible, playing out in blogs and the media for all to see. The conquest of the healthcare system has attracted far less attention, though arguably it is the most consequential. After all, human lives are at stake.

Many U.S. medical schools have embraced the idea that American healthcare is systemically racist, that White physicians and other providers are infected with racial bias, that racism accounts for the disparities in health outcomes between Blacks and Whites, and that the only antidote to racism is “anti-racism,” warns Stanley Goldfarb, author of “Take Two Aspirin and Call Me By My Pronouns: Why Turning Doctors into Social Justice Warriors Is Destroying American Medicine.”

Goldfarb bases his critique on his own experiences as a nephrologist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, an extensive review of the academic literature on racial disparities, and his role as founder of Do No Harm, a nonprofit formed to combat racial essentialism in medicine. Wokeness, he argues, is profoundly destructive. By misdiagnosing racial disparities in health outcomes, the anti-racism movement focuses attention on a nearly non-existent problem and distracts from real causes and solutions.

The predictable result: Woke medicine will harm African Americans and other marginalized groups it purports to help. In that regard, it is similar to woke K-12 education, where the racial achievement gap is getting worse; woke criminal justice, which leads to more African American homicides; woke colleges and universities, where African Americans feel less sense of acceptance and belonging than in years past; and woke everything else, the poisoned fruit of which is grievance, resentment, and alienation. Continue reading

Back in Vogue at UVa: Viewpoint Diversity

Douglas Wetmore

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia leadership normally keeps its Board of Visitors meetings running on such a tightly scripted schedule that board members rarely get an opportunity to engage in free-wheeling discussion. But Rector Whitt Clement and President Jim Ryan made an exception Friday during the board’s June meeting: They set aside nearly an hour to talk about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.

Board member Douglas Wetmore, a Richmond businessman appointed by Governor Glenn Youngkin, set the tone as soon as the discussion began. On paper the administration values “viewpoint diversity” along with demographic and other forms of diversity, he noted. But unlike the meticulous statistics it compiles on the racial and gender breakdown of students, faculty, and staff, he said, the university does not track viewpoint diversity at all.

“We want a wide range of competing ideas,” Wetmore said. “One hundred percent of statistics are related to race and gender. I haven’t seen one reflecting viewpoint diversity,” he said.

While a few board members suggested that viewpoint diversity was not a serious issue at UVa, the ensuing discussion revolved mainly around how to define viewpoint diversity, how much of such diversity was desirable, and how to measure it while respecting individuals’ right to privacy.

The Board conversation was unprecedented at UVa, where the DEI bureaucracy dedicated to advancing the interests of “marginalized” minorities has grown to 55 employees by the university’s own count. Continue reading

Equity: Equal Outcomes or Equal Opportunity?

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by James A. Bacon

University of Virginia President Jim Ryan begs to differ with critics of “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion.” The term “equity” has become a lightning rod in the debate over DEI, he writes in an essay recently published in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Somehow, he muses, people got the idea that equity means “equal outcomes” as opposed to “equal opportunity.”

“I have no idea where this idea came from, but it ought to be rejected out of hand,” he says. “I know of no college that assures equal outcomes.”

Where, oh where, could critics of UVa’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion policies have gotten the idea that equity stands for equal outcomes?

Perhaps they got it from “Audacious Future: Commitment Required,” which summarized the 2020 findings of UVa’s Racial Equity Task Force established by Ryan. The document was endorsed by the Board of Visitors, and never has Ryan, the Board, or anyone else in authority at UVa distanced themselves from its goals and objectives.

The task force reports makes abundantly clear what “equity” means to the authors of the report (my bold face). Continue reading

Ryan Calls for a Kinder, Gentler DEI

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by James A. Bacon

As the University of Virginia Board of Visitors gears up for a discussion of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in its June board meeting, President Jim Ryan has made the case for a kinder, gentler DEI in an essay recently published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Forgoing the rhetoric of “anti-racism” theorists such as Ibram X. Kendi, Ryan argues that DEI is misunderstood. There is no talk in the essay about “white supremacy,” “white privilege,” “structural racism” or other leftist buzzwords.

Indeed, Ryan argues that the most contentious element of DEI — equity — does not mean striving for equal outcomes, as many conservatives say it does. Sounding very much like Virginia’s Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, Ryan contends that “equity” really means equal “opportunity.” Unlike Youngkin, who renamed the state’s office of DEI to the office of Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion, however, Ryan is satisfied to retain the equity label and redefine it in more benign terms.

The tone in Ryan’s essay is moderate and reasonable. Political conservatives and moderates would not find much to argue with. The problem is that the words are largely divorced from reality. One is driven to conclude either that UVa’s president, insulated by layer upon layer of management, does not know what is occurring at the institution he leads or, worse, he does know and he is doing his best to obscure it. Continue reading

Ryan: Supreme Court Ruling Will Not Diminish UVa Commitment to Diversity

by James A. Bacon

If the United States Supreme Court rules in June that colleges and universities may no longer use race as a factor in admissions, the University of Virginia will continue to “do everything with our legal authority to recruit a student body that is both extraordinarily talented and richly diverse across every imaginable dimension including race,” said President Jim Ryan and Provost Ian Baucom in a statement issued to the university community.

Arguments before the Supreme Court are now underway on legal challenges at Harvard and the University of North Carolina to block racial preferences in university admissions. Such policies, the plaintiffs argue, violate the Constitutional prohibition of discrimination on the basis of race.

Ryan and Baucom said they are committed to “serve the Commonwealth and beyond by making a UVA education as accessible as possible for all, including historically underrepresented students.”

While there is broad support across the political spectrum for recruiting Blacks, Hispanics and other racial minorities to UVa, there is considerable disquiet about setting numerical goals for minority representation, which, for all practical purposes represent targets to be achieved. UVa assiduously tracks the racial make-up of its student body, faculty, and staff. Continue reading