Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Defeating DEI and Rescuing Higher Education



By April 28, even House Democrats had had enough.

A group of them demanded that Columbia University “act decisively” and evict the overtly pro-Hamas protesters who had been occupying the campuses, shutting down education at the close of the semester.

Is this the watershed moment? The turn of the tide? Or did that come even earlier—when state legislatures (such as Texas’) moved to ban diversityequity, and inclusion policies and programs?

Years from now, we could look back and see that as the moment when sanity began to retake its place on college campuses—and subsequently, throughout society. In particular, the DEI bans could be the key—and could loosen the stranglehold the Left has on colleges and universities, and all that stranglehold entails.

Universities have acted as gatekeeping medieval guilds, with “wrongthink” punished and intellectual diversity all but banned.

No more. Maybe it was the images of entitled American college students calling for genocide and religious retribution half a world away. Perhaps it was the protesters chanting “Burn Tel Aviv to the ground!” and “Hamas, we love you. We support your rockets, too!” Perhaps it was the increasing threat of violence against Jewish students.

Whatever the cause, the American public has had it with the racialized radicals at our colleges and universities.

And in an unexpected but welcome turn, those House Democrats, led by Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., sent a letter to Columbia officials calling for the school to “disband the encampment and ensure the safety and security of all of its students.”

They’re no longer pretending that the wave of antisemitic protests at America’s elite universities is simply the “Summer of Love” revisited.

“[T]his encampment has been the breeding ground for antisemitic attacks on Jewish students, including hate speech, harassment, intimidation, and even threats of violence,” they wrote. “[A] student held up a sign pointing to pro-Israel students that said ‘Al-Qassam’s next targets,’ referring to the military arm of Hamas, the foreign terrorist organization responsible for the atrocities of October 7, and for holding hostage innocent civilians—including Americans—in brutal captivity for nearly seven months.”

But the Democrats are late to the party.

Lawmakers in Texas, for example, correctly identified DEI as a campus cancer in their last legislative session and worked to end it. Senate Bill 17 was passed in the last session, much to the consternation of campus radicals.

The left-leaning Texas Tribune warned: “Layoffs and upheaval at Texas universities spur fear as lawmakers continue DEI crackdown.”

But here’s the truth: DEI doesn’t work. It doesn’t increase diversity, equity, or inclusion. Want proof?

The University of Michigan has the largest DEI program in the country. But as my colleague Sherry Sylvester reports, “After a decade of DEI at [the University of] Michigan, the largest university in the state, Michigan still has a student population that is less than 4% black, even though African Americans make up 14% of the population.”

And a 2021 study by The Heritage Foundation found that “large DEI bureaucracies appear to make little positive contribution to campus climate: Rather than being an effective tool for welcoming students from different backgrounds, DEI personnel may be better understood as a signal of adherence to ideological, political, and activist goals.”

It’s not just the Right that has figured this out. At MIT (where math recently went woke), a debate was held over whether academic DEI programs should be abolished.

Of course, there are the “bitter clingers”—these ones cling to protest signs or ideologies or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them. They don’t want to give up the power that DEI gives them. As The Federalist reported in January, “several higher education institutions [in Texas] have already committed to skirting the statute so they can keep promoting the preferential treatment of certain races, ethnicities, ‘gender identities,’ and sexual orientations.”

So, states like Texas must force them to comply. SB 17’s author, Republican state Rep. Brandon Creighton, is warning colleges that there “will be no reauthorizing, renaming or relaunching the DEI efforts under other strategies.”

And Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has named enforcement of SB 17 as an interim charge in the lead-up to the next legislative session.

It’s too early to tell how successful Texas and other states will be in this battle. But we do know the stakes: Entire professions are captive to the flawed promises of DEI.

This could be the moment when those promises are shown to be lies, and Americans return to our pursuit of a more perfect union.