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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

DEI backlash


In the name of DEI -- diversity, equity and inclusion -- many colleges and universities "have violated their constitutional commitments to free speech, due process and equal protection of the law," writes New York Times columnist David French.


The obligation to protect students from harassment doesn't justify "draconian speech codes on campus, creating a system of unconstitutional censorship that has been struck down again and again and again in federal court," French writes. "Nor is it a justification for discriminating against faculty members for their political views or for compelling them to speak in support of D.E.I."

Universities can welcome students from all walks of life without unlawfully censoring speech. They can respond to campus sexual violence without violating students’ rights to due process. They can diversify the student body without discriminating on the basis of race.

DEI's "diversity" is skin deep, notes Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychology professor and co-founder of the new Council on Academic Freedom at Harvard. "Seventy-seven percent of the professors in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences describe themselves as liberal, and fewer than 3 percent as conservative," he writes in the Boston Globe. "Vast regions in the landscape of ideas are no-go zones, and dissenting ideas are greeted with incomprehension, outrage, and censorship."


"Disempowering DEI" is a necessary to reverse universities' "tanking credibility," Pinker writes. "Many of the assaults on academic freedom (not to mention common sense) come from a burgeoning bureaucracy that calls itself diversity, equity, and inclusion while enforcing a uniformity of opinion, a hierarchy of victim groups, and the exclusion of freethinkers. "

An infamous example is the freshman training sessions that terrify students with warnings of all the ways they can be racist (such as asking, “Where are you from?”). Another is the mandatory diversity statements for job applicants, which purge the next generation of scholars of anyone who isn’t a woke ideologue or a skilled liar. And since overt bigotry is in fact rare in elite universities, bureaucrats whose job depends on rooting out instances of it are incentivized to hone their Rorschach skills to discern ever-more-subtle forms of “systemic” or “implicit” bias.

Zack De Piero, once an English professor at Penn State Abington, was forced out for questioning DEI orthodoxy, he writes in the New York Post.


"Whether you want to teach French at SUNY Oswego, Dance at Chapman, Soil Science and Nutrient Management at Colorado State, or Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse, your prospective employer will expect a DEI statement, so prepare to bend the knee," De Piero writes. "Even if you aspire to become the Beef Center Assistant Manager at Washington State University: Yep: DEI statement."


There are signs of hope, he writes. "UNC and UMass Boston recently un-required mandatory DEI statements for student admission, employee recruitment and faculty promotion."


Now teaching writing at a community college, De Piero has sued Penn State with help from the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism for creating a hostile work environment. He'd objected to the mandatory viewing of a video titled "White Teachers Are the Problem" and pressure to adjust grades to achieve "equity" in outcomes.


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