What Do All Those DEI Employees Do?

A reader wrote this letter in response to our article highlighting Open the Books’ finding of 235 employees and interns in UVA’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion bureaucracy. The author asked to remain anonymous. — JAB 

Thanks for sharing this article. I am not surprised at the number of DEI positions at UVA. We have long known that there are more and more people employed at UVA or any university who do not teach, conduct research, garden, cook food, or attend to maintenance. A good chunk of the rise in college costs goes to the increase in the position that are loosely administrative. When I got to UVA in 1995 we had a dean, three or four associate deans and a few counselors in the School of Education. Today we still have a dean, 5 associate deans and at least 15 directors, some of whom do not hold faculty positions. Some of these new positions are related to fund raising development, grant administration and other outreach functions. In 1995 we had 75 to 100 full-time faculty and about 2,000 students. We still have the same number of faculty and students, but we built a new building to hold the administrators.

As I was reading the article and clicking on the links I kept wondering just what do these people do. I suspect they attend a lot of meetings and write a lot of reports, but do any of the students benefit? I did a quick check in 2009 about 8% of the student body was African American, in 2021 about 6%. Clearly these folks are not succeeding at making the place more diverse. The percentage of Hispanic students has ticked up by 2% and Asians by 7%.

I doubt that these 55 or 200 positions are making the students better educated. I also suspect that it is not always clear if these positions are DEI or not. Are the tutors for the football and basketball players considered DEI.? I don’t know.

Some of these newer positions are a result of federal and state laws and social change. For example, because sexual assault is an issue at UVA and at most campuses we have dramatically increased the number of counselors. Because any grant has to comply with diversity standards, someone has to read the proposal to see that it complies with Federal guidelines.

For years people have argued about what are the best universities in America. Harvard, Yale etc. make the top of the list. What are the criteria for being rated number one in the nation? Typically they cite number of award winning professors, quality and quantity of research, size of the library, number of grants, and reputation. That puts Harvard at the top. If you change the criteria to, number of first children in a family to go to college, or number of people who rise from lower class to middle class, the best universities in the nation are UCBerkeley and UCLA. These two schools actually promote social mobility. Low income students get a good opportunity, they learn and they get better jobs.

Finally, I am against purely race based scholarships. All scholarships should be based on need, merit and some combination of the two. There are middle class minorities who do not need or deserve the scholarships. UC Davis has one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation. They did this based on need without considering the race of the students. A poor white kid from Bakersfield is just as deserving as a poor Black kid from Watts.

Finally, to echo the article. If all this money went into scholarships and education, would everyone be better off?

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ConcernedUVAEmployee
ConcernedUVAEmployee
28 days ago

Thank you. I will tell you that often those DEI-specific employees spend their time nit-picking the work of others (though through gossip, not directly), creating committees and “trainings” for the cause, and otherwise sitting around (or prowling) as consultants ready to support you in “the work.” 5% of the interactions are valuable/helpful and the rest is a mis-allocation of time and resources from the teaching and learning work we are supposed to be doing.

walter smith
walter smith
28 days ago

You have NAILED IT, without studying.
James Lindsay’s New Discourses YouTube Channel has a “Bullet Point” podcast on how this works. The initial DEI hires are political activists, whose job is to bring in other political activists through training, hiring, discipline, etc.
To fully understand how the mindset works, and how pernicious it is, I recommend listening to all of his Bullet Points (I walk and listen at 1.25X) – now over 80. This is happening in all of academia.

walter smith
walter smith
28 days ago

“What Do All Those DEI Employees DO?”
Drive up housing costs.
Create division among the student body.
Cripple students who drink from that victim cup (except for getting a DEI job in academia)
Export the poison throughout Cville, Albemarle, Central VA and the entire Commonwealth – check out pp17-20 of this link –
https://www.flipsnack.com/uvadiversity/amplify-spring-2023/full-view.html
In fact, check out all the issues of “Amplify” -all of this effort is not captured in the accountings so far. Check out engageduva.virginia.edu to see even more.
The full cost is at least $100 million. It affects research, instruction, grant making, admissions, divvying of scholarships, everything.
UVA should cost half of what it costs. And would be better academically and socially with extirpation of the DEI poison from the school.

Geoffrey Close
Geoffrey Close
28 days ago

I don’t know what to say, compliance bureaucracies build on compliance bureaucracies, until you end up having the tail wagging the dog. They are an insidious cancer that can end up killing what they are charged with overseeing.
A personal example in my own career was that the compliance group decided at one point that all of us advisors needed to “Know” our clients. They defined KYC (Know Your Customer) as having a record of a client’s cell phone number and email address.
At the time I had a lovely elderly lady as a client. I knew her children’s names addresses SS numbers, cell and email addresses and all her grandchildren’s names and their SS numbers. I had been to her home on numerous occasions, and knew she had a ROTARY DIAL PHONE. She had no computer hence no email address or cell phon. So, I was in non-compliance with KYC and had a local compliance officer on my case to terminate a very profitable and meaningful relationship because of the non-compliance with “KYC” (know your customer).
In the meantime, in an office that shared a common wall with that compliance officer, another advisor promulgated a nefarious insider trading/Ponzi scheme for four years. All of his clients/victims were in compliance with KYC with cell phones and email addresses on file. It was the local county prosecutor, not the compliance officer who finally uncovered the scheme, while she was chasing me around because an elderly lady didn’t have a computer or a cell phone.
The parallels here are uncanny. Clearly the priorities are all wrong with a self-promulgating and self-sustaining DEI compliance bureaucracy doing nothing but costing overhead and impeding operations. Their results seem to be ineffective, if in 2009 the African American student population here at UVA was 8% and in 2021 with $20 Million spent on DEI Compliance it was only 6%. They should be held accountable. It’s time to cut out this cancer and redeploy funds to scholarships, faculty salary and research, where they belong…

Walter smith
Walter smith
28 days ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Close

Sounds like my experience implementing Sarbanes Oxley at a public company and all the new check the box processes that made the governance less accountable and offered no improvement in the financial accounting…but it was good for the accountants and outside lawyers!

Student
Student
27 days ago

It would be better if the Jefferson Council would focus its time on these sorts of subjects instead of trying to paint pro-Palestinian students and faculty members as antisemites.

Walter smith
Walter smith
26 days ago
Reply to  Student

Is this my anonymous Palestinian advocate? Shame, A White Rose, etc?
I don’t think TJC is trying to paint pro-Palestinians as antisemites. I think if you support Hamas you are not just anti-Semitic, you favor rabid Jew hate. If you don’t like war, don’t start one. Maybe don’t have still over 70% supporting the Hamas barbarism of Oct 7. Maybe quit chanting from the river to the sea… You can believe your “occupier” BS all you want. It does not justify what was done on Oct 7. What is being done by Israel now is justified, and it is justified until Hamas is destroyed. The “Palestinians” could demand that. They haven’t. They won’t. And so instead the war will continue with the evil Hamas continuing to hold and rape and abuse hostages and use their own citizens as sympathy props. The moral choices are pretty clear to me.

JAMES BACON JR
JAMES BACON JR
26 days ago
Reply to  Student

People will disagree whether support for Hamas is antisemitic or merely antizionist. That’s not the concern of the Jefferson Council. Our concern is how Jewish students are treated at UVA. We believe there is ample evidence to suggest that they face a “hostile environment,” to borrow a phrase from EOCR lingo. A significant indicator of that hostile environment stems from the overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian orientation of outside speakers invited to the Grounds. Such an environment would never be tolerated if favored demographic groups were similarly afflicted.