by James A. Bacon
The University of Virginia and Virginia Tech have the second and fifth largest bureaucracies devoted to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion among 65 large public universities studied by the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy. UVa has 94 DEI personnel, while Tech has 83, according to Jay P. Greene and James D. Paul in their paper, “Diversity University: DEI Bloat in the Academy.”
In another way of looking at the data, the authors found that UVa has 6.5 DEI staff for every 100 tenured and tenure-track professors. Tech has 5.6 DEI personnel per 100 faculty — compared to 3.4 per 1,000 for the average university. The figures for UVa, Tech and other universities surveyed are conservative in the sense that they do not include positions such as admissions and facilities managers that include DEI as part of their missions.
Based on climate surveys at several universities, the authors found no relationship between the size of the DEI bureaucracies and student satisfaction with their college experience.
The authors selected 65 universities that are members of five “power” athletic conferences, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, for examination. As opposed to private institutions that often adopt ideological missions, these public universities tend to be mainstream institutions that students select and state legislatures support without much thought to political and cultural aims.
DEI bureaucracies, Greene and Paul argue, institutionalize political activism on campus.
DEI bureaucracies appear to increase administrative bloat without contributing to the stated goals of diversity, equity and inclusion. Employing dozens of DEI professionals — in the form of chief diversity officers, assistant deans for diversity, and directors for inclusive excellence — may be better understood as jobs programs subsidizing political activism without improving campus climate.
The paper provides three broad recommendations:
- State legislatures, higher-education boards and university trustees should investigate the resources devoted to DEI personnel at the universities they oversee and subsidize.
- Stakeholders should demand evidence about whether DEI bureaucracies are effective at achieving their goals.
- DEI programs and staff should include a diversity of perspectives and be designed to be inclusive of all students.
Hiring more people with “corporate-sounding titles,” the authors conclude, “seems unlikely to help students feel welcome and learn from each other.” Creating new units and adding more administrators advance political agendas “that may be at odds with the preferences of those who pay and subsidize tuition.”
Bacon’s bottom line: The Heritage Foundation authors are too timid in their conclusions. Based on my observation, DEI bureaucracies do actual harm (a) by seeking out and magnifying ever more subtle and nuanced signs of racism, (b) encouraging minority students, especially African-Americans, to feel hurt and outrage rather than inculcating strength and resilience, and (c) spear-heading the creation of “safe spaces” for minorities that leads to self-segregation. The end result is that minorities, especially Black students, feel increasingly victimized, increasingly resentful, and more likely to retreat from the mainstream life and culture.
I expect that a close examination of UVa and Tech would find that both institutions are spending millions of dollars to heighten Black fragility and alienation. DEI administrators are like bureaucrats everywhere: they work ceaselessly to justify their jobs and expand their domains. It is in their self interest to seek out racism that requires correction, in the process redefining words, practices and attitudes once deemed acceptable as racist. With large anti-racism bureaucracies in place, UVa and Tech will always be incubators of racial victimhood, resentment and contention.