American colleges and universities are now transitioning from the Title IX “Hostile” environments and constant “Harassment” (verbal, non-verbal, sexual, behavioral misconduct, abuse and assault) to the “positive” atmosphere of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (or D.I.E.).
This new form of Political Correctness in academia is due to the hundreds of court cases and the Trump Administration’s new Title IX Guidelines that overturned the radical censorship, violations of Freedom of Speech, and Due Process of Law, central to the Obama policies of surveillance, inquisitions, expulsions and dismissals that almost ended Higher Education in America. (See my “What made American Academia Great and How It Was Destroyed”.)
Having run off most old, white male academics with Title IX, the new progressive agenda remakes the university with all those “left out” or “minoritized” and none of the “hostile” standards, requirements and goals of privileged white males. How does this innocent-sounding agenda of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity do this? By redefining those very terms and concepts from including all kinds of people and treating them equally (within the structure, qualities and values of traditional higher education) to accepting ALL students and staff regardless of qualifications, experience and accomplishments. It radically restructures the university. No longer are there admissions qualifications, standard curriculum courses, majors, evaluations and graduation requirements. Now, Open Admissions; courses and grades based on the students’ “experiences”; “interdisciplinary” seminars and graduation based on simple “exit exams” make for social justice. Similarly, old standards for staff, faculty and administrators are eschewed for “identity” qualifications (oppressed women, minorities, illegal aliens, and LGBQT, etc.). Before, to be a Dean or a Vice Chancellor, one had to go through a rigorous career process (graduate degree in a real subject, tenured professor, Department Chair, Dean, Provost, Vice President, President) with objective standards of qualifications, experience and accomplishments. Now, some college Vice Chancellors only have a Bachelor’s Degree. Titles and duties are multiplied and meaningless (hence “Equity”). At some places, traditional roles such as Dean are held by a “Team” of a staff member, administrator and P.R. consultant.
A few specific policy implications behind the benign “Diversity, Inclusion and Equity” showing its radical agenda destroying academic standards and quality, have recently emerged.
At the University of Tennessee (as exposed by THE COLLEGE FIX 02-03-22 and quickly withdrawn) a “Critical Race Center” with Diversity plans including rejection of “Dominant Ideologies” as well as advocating “experiential knowledge” (of racism, oppression, etc.) as legitimate educational accomplishments and “interdisciplinary” approaches forcing CRT into every discipline and subject. At Yale, D.I.E. will influence faculty and staff recruitment and tenure; as well as the Law School specifically hiring people with criminal convictions. (COLLEGE FIX 02-24-22). And “emphasize anonymity of student exam accommodations”. (Translation: When grades are given on the basis of “identity” rather than performance, it will be kept secret.) Even public art displays will emphasize works by “underrepresented people”. Princeton’s health care plan now covers students’ “transgender surgery”, while Harvard closes a campus police station because it “intimidates” students.
In response to the D.I.E. attack on academic integrity, a group of professors at University of Massachusetts Boston College identified them as promoting “a chilling environment for the pursuit of truth”. (COLLEGE FIX 02-28-22)
Overall, the vague and benign terms of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity now show policies destructive of academic standards, quality and knowledge itself.
Admittedly, some of this watering-down of academic standards and practices is due to institutional failure (in enrollment, finances and prestige), trying to survive before going completely under (while preserving the high salaries of the top two or three “leaders”) but the ideology is a total remake of traditional Western university education (with distinct knowledge, fields, courses, majors, requirements, distinctions and achievements).This also fits nicely with its corollary Critical Race Theory, which posits that all American values, institutions and education are founded on racism, oppression by privileged white males of everyone else, and using these very educational systems and practices. So, sweeping them away through Diversity, Inclusion and Equity (D.I.E.) serves true justice. It is a kind of educational Communism. Like the economic Communism of all being equal regardless of skills, experience and accomplishments, this educational Communism eschews distinctions, ranks, experience, accomplishments and rewards. Both end in a meaningless mediocrity, dysfunctionality and disgrace.
A few true universities will survive with genuine disciplines and standards; many more online technical schools will teach specific skills needed in the economy; but most small, medium, regional universities with Diversity, Inclusion and Equity will just D.I.E.
Garrett Ward Sheldon is a regular contributor to GENZ Conservative and has published numerous books on Political Theory (including The History of Political Theory; The Political Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson) and A Memoir. He has taught at Oxford University; Moscow University; the University of Vienna, Austria; the University of Virginia; and Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.