CounterCurrent: Week of 01/22/2024
In higher education, corruption permeates from top to bottom.
Amidst the recent headlines, including the removal of two prominent college presidents and a plagiarism incident involving one of them, the lingering aftermath invites us to focus on these immediate events. However, it's crucial not to overlook the underlying and more profound challenges afflicting higher education—issues that have eroded truth and accountability. I am, of course, speaking of diversity, equity, and inclusion or DEI. As we will see, perhaps the plagiarism by one of the said college presidents may help to advance the current rollback against racially biased ideology.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion not only pervades higher education, but America’s political and bureaucratic establishments at large. Government funded colleges and universities happily accepted DEI in classrooms, as well as quotas of DEI approved faculty and staff—all of which keeps them in the good graces and pockets of leftist legislators.
Though right now, it seems that support for DEI is waning, even from former proponents.
John D. Sailer, in an article for the Free Press, writes about the “DEI Rollback” taking place. Somewhat surprisingly, proponents of DEI are not just on one side of the aisle. For example, Spencer Cox, governor of Utah and a Republican, made DEI advancement a top priority when taking office in 2021. This initiative trickled down to state-funded colleges and universities, who eagerly jumped aboard the DEI train. However, in December, Cox retracted his former position, and now seeks to “reverse the excesses of DEI.”
Cox states the problem succinctly, “We’re using identitarianism to force people into boxes, and into victimhood, and I just don’t think that’s helpful at all. In fact, I think it’s harmful.” Sailer further explains that “Spencer Cox is not alone:”
After what appeared to be an inexorable rise of the DEI bureaucracy through government, higher education, and business for the past few years, many now feel like Cox—and are taking action. Legislators have proposed and passed laws curtailing DEI practices. Businesses have trimmed their DEI positions. Some universities have voluntarily ditched mandatory diversity statements. DEI is still deeply entrenched at our institutions—but retrenchment is well under way.
Some states have already outright banned the use of DEI in hiring and admissions. Others have rolled back their usage of DEI after being exposed—Sailer has done extensive work to call out institutions for their discriminatory practices, with great success. While blue states typically exhibit a slower pace in altering their stance on DEI, Massachusetts stands out as a blue beacon. Sailer writes that “For the fall 2023 hiring cycle … the University of Massachusetts Boston quietly eliminated its diversity statement requirement.” Change is in the air.
Demonstrated time and again, DEI policies harm the purpose and mission of higher education. Rep. Virginia Foxx recently wrote, “There must be a realignment of university incentives with truth-seeking values. Accountability is needed now more than ever to ensure postsecondary education lives up to its promise.” Her perspective is echoed by those who care to preserve the future and mission of higher education.
Efforts to root out grifters in higher education must remain steady against the ever-flowing pushback, and ever-changing headlines. Perhaps there is hope for the future of American higher education, we must stay the course, regardless of this changing of the tides.
Until next week.
CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by the NAS Staff. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.