“Enacting Racial Change by Design”

by James A. Bacon

The backlash against Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in higher-ed and the corporate world may be gathering momentum across the country, but the University of Virginia is rolling out a new DEI initiative oblivious to the shift in the national mood.

UVA’s College of Arts & Sciences has launched a program this semester entitled, “Enacting Racial Change by Design.” Participating faculty will discuss chapters from the book, “From Equity Talk to Equity Walk” to deepen understanding of “systematic racial inequity in higher education.” Participants will be able to apply for $1,000 grants to implement DEI-related projects.

The rhetoric of the memo announcing the initiative is disconnected from the national conversation now underway. The program shows not the slightest inkling that critics of DEI need be acknowledged much less engaged in dialogue. U.S. Supreme Court ruling on race in admissions? Resignation of the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania? Helloooo? Anyone home?

This is what happens when an academic elite is captive to DEI dogma and there is not enough diversity of thought for anyone to push back.

Here follows the memo.

Dear Colleagues,

The Office of the Dean at the College of Arts and Sciences invites applications to participate in a semester-long Faculty Lunch and Learn Community titled Enacting Racial Equity by Design. This program will support Faculty’s efforts in enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion within their curricular design and departmental culture.

The community will meet on Friday afternoons with lunch provided. Interested faculty members are invited to sign up at DEI Faculty Learning Community Application by the end of Friday January 26th. Full details follow.

Description

There is a common desire among us to address equity in student outcomes or to close equity gaps for our underserved or underrepresented students. Many questions arise. How does racial inequity affect students’ learning outcomes? How do we identify equity gaps? How do we move from equity talk to equity walk, and eventually develop an equity-minded campus culture?

In the Spring semester, we will be engaging in conversations around Equity and Racial Justice to enhance our personal and practitioner expertise. These conversations will inform our pedagogical practices and the experience we provide in our teaching and learning environment. Faculty and instructors seeking to broaden their understanding of evidence-based practices, to close racial and other systemic and persistent performance gaps in the classroom are invited to participate in this program. No prior knowledge/experience of DEI work is required.

Meeting Details 

The community will meet four times on Fridays (12pm-1:15pm) during the Spring semester (Schedule below). All meetings are in person and lunch will be provided. Meetings will be facilitated by Gail Hunger, Assistant Director of Undergraduate Student Success Initiatives, and Fang Yi, Assistant Director of Learning Design and Technology.

Date  Tentative Topics
Friday, Feb 2 From Equity Talk to Equity Walk
Friday, Feb 23 Building an Equity-Minded Campus Culture
Friday, March 22 Using Data to Advance Equity
Friday, April 19 Developing a Practice of Equity-Minded Teaching

Book Discussions: Prior to each meeting, participants are expected to read chapters from the book “From Equity talk to Equity walk” by Tia Brown McNair, Estela Mara Bensimon, et al., and other supplemental learning materials. During the meetings, participants will engage in conversations and discussions to reflect, share experiences, and exchange thoughts. This will deepen our understanding of systematic racial inequity in higher education and explore best practices to identify and close equity gaps to achieve inclusive excellence. Books will be provided.

Action Activities: Each semester, we have facilitated this learning community to explore issues or events that have significantly impacted our work in this arena. Our aim is to create an intentional environment where we can appropriately respond to relevant and timely topics in our class, department, or institution are discussed. We may invite guest speakers to share their ideas and experiences, and/or visit sites that relate to the topic.

Participants will be partnered to work on some of the following hands-on DEI in action activities:

  • Evaluate your course materials or programs for equity minded language and practices in your department
  • Gather information on DEI definition/goals as well as past and existing DEI work at the College and University to assess the alignment of our current practices in teaching and learning
  • Investigate and analyze existing data to identify equity gaps
  • Brainstorm and develop project ideas for improving racial equity through the DEI action grant

DEI Action Grant (Exclusive to Learning Community Participants)  

The learning community will also offer the participants an opportunity to apply as working groups or individually for a small grant to implement DEI related initiatives/projects. Grant recipients will receive $1000 per person as a stipend to support their efforts. More information will be shared during the learning community meetings.

Expectations 

Participants should expect to attend at least three of the four sessions and to commit up to 2 hours completing reading/learning materials before each session to engage fully in discussion and hands-on work.

Eligibility 

Participants will be any A&S faculty interested in equity and racial justice, including full-time and part-time faculty (tenured/tenure-track, AGFM), and postdocs.

Sponsors 

This FLC is organized with generous support from A&S Learning Design & Technology and A&S Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Application 

Please submit your application by Jan 26 at DEI Faculty Learning Community Application. Applicants will be contacted shortly thereafter. Please email Gail Hunger ([email protected]) or Fang Yi ([email protected]) with any questions.

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Pamela Denise Long
Pamela Denise Long
1 month ago

This book study is the most innocuous professional development offering to address systemic racism. At some point, you anti-fairness folks are going to either accept the reasonable efforts to uproot racism in the United States or you ARE going to get run over by the people you can’t seem to find empathy for. Your constant whining that no equity initiative is worthwhile is alienating even the people who decry the liberals’ nonsense. Your nonsense is even worse because our nation has been here before. Good lord! Thomas Jefferson himself realized the bigoted nature of our founding and called for a re-education of the common man. Choose to be an American instead of a Confederate. Or don’t and see what that gets you.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
1 month ago
Reply to  jimbacon1953

Well said, Jim, and spot on.

walter smith
walter smith
1 month ago

I appreciate that you use your name.
That is one of the things The Jefferson Council is trying to promote – free speech. Express your opinion!
Now – I disagree with your opinion.
First, I will start with “systemic racism.” Please define systemic racism. Is any difference in racialized outcomes proof of “systemic” racism? I believe the whole construct of “systemic racism” is inherently racist. And self-defeating. And contradictory.
Besides the basic Constitutional issues addressed in the SFFA v Harvard case, CRT/DEI/systemic racism seems to say that all people of a “race” are supposed to, as a “race,” have outcomes, in the aggregate, equal to other “races.” I don’t see how one “defeats” racism by saying – “look at me I am of a different race” and “treat me the same because of my different race” – at the same time. It is inherently divisive by race, while ignoring individuality of the people within the “racial” characterizations. Not all “whites,” “blacks,” “Asians,” “Latins” are the same. Within a single family there are wildly disparate outcomes. Human beings share 99% the same DNA. All physical differences are comprised within that 1%. But tons of factors play into all the other outcomes. And, as a simple bit of reality, if you live in the United States, even if you claim you are oppressed, you are fortunate.
But the way to end racism is not to engage in it. You cannot ensure that all people end up in the same place. Different people are different and should not be categorized by the artificial “racial” characterizations we now have. As one example, are we going back to the “one drop” rule? If you are 1/1000th percent “black,” does that make you black? Conversely, since most blacks in America have some white blood (according to the Henry Louis Gates Finding Your Roots show), why aren’t those “blacks” really “white?” Jesus said you will always have the poor among you. There are poor people of all types, and rich people of all types.

“Choose to be an American instead of a Confederate”
So, disagreeing with you makes one a “confederate.” What does that mean? That those who disagree wish to restore slavery as it existed pre-Civil War? That is a ridiculous statement. I would say choosing to be an American is more based in living under liberty, self governance, and judging people by their actions, not judging them by the color of their skin. And that is consistent with what the Constitution says.

I think UVA’s obsession with indoctrinating the DEI worldview is a false religion and a betrayal of its educational mission and the duties owed to all citizens of the Commonwealth as the supposedly premier university in Virginia.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
1 month ago
Reply to  walter smith

You nailed it, Walter.

Love the “compassion” of the Left who label anyone who has the temerity to disagree with DEI as a racist, pro-slavery, 21st-century “Confederate.”

I don’t see anyone calling Pamela a Marxist, nor should there be. I guess pejorative stereotypes are only OK for those who disagree with people who believe in merit and the traditions upon which America was founded.

John Buckley
John Buckley
1 month ago

Stop smearing as “confederate” those whom you disagree with. Pathetic.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
1 month ago
Reply to  John Buckley

Agree 100%.

angela box
angela box
1 month ago

I did not realize that clicking the green cross would automatically count me as a positive. I thought it would give ma an option. I don’t know how the preceding person accomplished the minus 1. I wanted to do the same.

HooDaMan
HooDaMan
1 month ago

Pamela and everyone – Ian Rowe’s book “Agency” would help this discussion. And I will add that DEI programs in higher Ed as currently structured are toxic. They block white faculty applicants. True. They have established a hierarchy of favored based on race and sexuality for employment. Given the established hierarchy is well known to the rank and file – they must submit. Sounds like the old system DEI wishes to remove will be just another new favored group.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
1 month ago
Reply to  HooDaMan

HooDaMan, you are 100% correct. Problem is leftists don’t care about facts.

HooDaMan
HooDaMan
1 month ago

Pamela – one additional thought regarding your Confederate/American comment. My people came here 102 years ago from Ireland with no money and – thanks to the British – no education. What advanced many of my family – not all of us by any stretch – was commitment to work, family and community. There was no time or energy or family history to draw upon bigotry. My experience is not unique. So when I read about disagreements over policy or approach defined narrowly as examples of bigotry or systematic racism I get very discouraged about our progress as a people.

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
1 month ago
Reply to  HooDaMan

Again, great point.

My maternal grandmother was born in County Cork. Her family emigrated from Ireland in the late 1880’s. Her husband, my maternal grandfather, was born in Norway and also came to America in the late 1880’s. They succeeded via hard work and adherence to the Judeo-Christian ethos and love of the nuclear family.

Judeo-Christian values work. Marital fidelity with no expectation of government support for your kids works. To quote JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Wahoo74
Wahoo74
1 month ago

Pamela, our educational system should absolutely be for equal opportunity. It should not be for predetermined equal outcomes. “Equity” in DEI mandates quotas and non-objective evaluative standards. I believe in merit criteria regardless of socio-economic or racial background.

We have had 6+ decades of Affirmative Action in education and the public sector workforce. Please explain how America is still “systemically racist” which is the core premise of the DEI culture. When do all Americans start playing on an equal playing field, not one playing favorites by one’s ethnic/racial background?

Dennis Hughes
Dennis Hughes
1 month ago

Ms. Long, who are the “anti-fairness folks”?
What makes these folk “anti-fair?
Thank you for this discussion.

Dogon Priest
Dogon Priest
1 month ago

This is lunacy.
This is a better take
The Fictional Ambivalence and Meaninglessness of Intersectionalityhttps://torrancestephensphd.substack.com/p/the-fictional-ambivalence-and-meaninglessness