The Misery of the Diversity Protection Racket

It is hard to know which is the best descriptor of university “diversity, equity, and inclusion” enforcers: is DEI best thought of as an ideological protection racket, or as the campus equivalent of the Stasi? Gangsters or commissars? I suppose we should embrace the power of and here, and not think these descriptions are mutually exclusive. “Nice little academic career you have here Comrade Rubashov. Shame if anything should happen to it. Best just to sign this confession of guilt that we call a ‘diversity’ statement. . .” (And yes, “witch hunt” also works.)

Amidst the endless stream of news stories about wokery that all sound the same, two recent news items caught my eye. First, The College Fix reports on a campus climate survey at Duke University that found a minority students are dissatisfied with the level of “diversity” at the campus. As the Duke campus paper relayed:

Less than 50% of Black students, faculty and staff said that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the racial and ethnic diversity of their unit, department and/or program leadership. This was the lowest satisfaction rate among all four races surveyed; the highest rate of satisfaction was among Asian staff members.

The College Fix noted that Duke has a huge number of “diversity, equity and inclusion” personnel, not only in a standalone administrative office, but scattered throughout many departments and schools that comprise Duke.

They must be doing a lousy job if minority students think Duke falls short of achieving “diversity.” Or maybe they have done their job too well, and have conditioned minorities to look at the world through Grievance Glasses. No doubt this survey result (and I have seen a similar result from other campuses, including the University of California) will be taken as the reason for hiring more diversicrats. Maybe “clusters” of them (add your own suffix), like this one:

To further advance our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity (a key component of our strategic plan), Western Colorado University is excited to announce a DEI Cluster Hire for faculty across a wide range of academic areas: Business, Communication Arts, Education, Creative Writing, and Mathematics. Consonant with the cluster hire theme, we hope to attract a diverse group of new colleagues who are committed to inclusive curricula/teaching, equity-minded student mentorship, community-engagement for social justice, collaboration on relevant interdisciplinary initiatives, and cultivating intercultural competencies requisite for meaningful citizenship in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society. To support and sustain these commitments, applicants demonstrating a record of significant engagement with issues of social, economic, racial, and/or gender justice and equity in their work will be given preference.

Effectual translation: “We hope to attract a diverse group” that all believe the same ideology. Also: conservatives need not apply.

It is unlikely that anyone in university leadership will consider the possibility that it is the endless rote emphasis on DEI themes that makes minority students uncomfortable, as they can tell when they are being condescended to.

But cheer up. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that many DEI staff are burned out and depressed.  Among other things, they get lots of resistance from faculty. I can’t imagine why that might be! From the article:

Nicollette Mitchell’s work has always involved supporting students of color. She started her career at Oberlin College, as director of the Center for Learning, Education, and Research in the Sciences. Among other things, she helped improve retention rates for students of color, especially in STEM fields. But she says she ran into problems — like faculty members who didn’t want her advice on making the classroom more equitable, or the time she was told it wasn’t her place as an administrative staff member to suggest curriculum changes.

Imagine that: faculty members asserting their fundamental prerogative of academic freedom in their classrooms over diversicrats with degrees in. . . what, exactly? Actually, it turns out Mitchell, the figure in this Chronicle article, doesn’t have a Ph.D, which we discover in the next paragraph where she moved on to de BEI director at Bates College, where the same thing happened:

In September 2020, Mitchell took a new job, as director of equity and inclusion education at Bates College, in Maine. It was a new position, like many of the others in her department, that began just after that summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. At first, she was enthusiastic that she could help people think through systems of oppression in a way that she says she couldn’t at her last job. In an email, Mitchell wrote that at Bates she spent lots of time organizing training for departments that had or continued to have a history of racially biased incidents. Then, it happened again — the resistance. “There was pushback,” she said, “when we started to talk about long-term structural changes.”

Mitchell ended up enrolling in a doctoral program this fall, instead of deferring as she had originally planned. You might remember from our previous newsletter on Bates that several of her colleagues left, too.

The subtext of this story is that a lot of faculty, which means a lot of liberals and leftists, hate the whole DEI racket, even if they sympathize with racial grievance politics.

If you also read the Chronicle’s story about the DEI mess at Bates College, it also become clear that at many colleges, the hires for DEI positions are simply the very worst people in the academic universe. And that’s saying something. They are depressed and burned out because they are horrifying, miserable people. (And what a surprise: a large number of DEI staff turn out to be anti-Semitic as well.) Cue a paraphrase of Pink Floyd: “DEI—leave those kids alone.”