DEI and the Tyranny of College Administrators

“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

Milton Friedman spoke those words several decades ago, and they ring true today.  His precept applies poignantly to the so-called “progressive” policies of the left—including countless government programs—whose failures almost always result in cries to double down on earlier mistakes.

In the real world, performance is measured by success or failure.  In business, professional sports, or almost any other endeavor, leaders are held accountable for unsatisfactory results.  Profits, wins and losses, and similar metrics determine the fate of the organization and its players.

On college campuses, however, holding anyone accountable is a rarity.

Before the emergence of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, college admissions offices were tasked with compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The passage of this legislation prompted universities to provide equal access to previously segregated institutions regardless of race.  Discrimination by race was explicitly banned.

While racial quotas have been deemed unconstitutional since the Bakke case in 1978—in a decision written by Justice Lewis Powell, a distinguished alumnus from my alma mater, Washington & Lee—universities were permitted to consider race as a factor in the admissions process, with the goal of achieving greater diversity in the student body.

That practice was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court this past summer.  In the words of Chief Justice John Roberts, “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”

In the decades following the Civil Rights Act, the call for greater diversity—primarily by increasing the percentage of underrepresented minorities (URMs) on college campuses—led to hiring an ever-growing cadre of administrators dedicated to that mission.  Largely ignoring the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, universities and their accrediting overseers openly established racial quotas to make student populations “look like America.”

In the meantime, societal norms—particularly attitudes toward race—changed tremendously.  Blacks and other minorities (with the notable exception of Asians) enjoy significant advantages over whites in the college admissions process and in recruitment for jobs in Corporate America.

Yet “DEI, Inc.” has exploded in recent years, becoming more powerful than ever.  A pivotal moment occurred in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the activism of Black Lives Matters in 2020, when Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) suddenly became Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).  While Americans universally embrace the concept of equal opportunity, “equity” suggests a demand for equal outcomes.  DEI seeks to replace the American notion of meritocracy with an essentially Marxist call for equal results.

DEI, Inc. insists that America remains a racist place, and that white supremacy is a genuine threat.  Maintaining that false narrative is essential to justifying their otherwise questionable existence.

Universities throughout the country have hired thousands of DEI administrators in recent years, expanding their roles far beyond admissions offices to influence hiring practices, student activities, campus policies—including Orwellian speech codes—and often exerting broad control over the curriculum.

According to a recent study by The Heritage Foundation, DEI staff now make up an average of 3.4 positions for every 100 tenured faculty at American universities. For many higher education professionals, DEI has become the primary objective of universities—their raison d’etre—replacing classical liberal education and the intellectual pursuit of knowledge and truth.

W&L is no exception.  In fact, my alma mater—once a reliably conservative bastion—recently made national news for its bloated administrative bureaucracy, including its Office of Inclusion and Engagement, which runs the George Floyd Endowment and paid “antiracist” author Ibram X. Kendi to lecture the students in 2021.  As The College Fix points out, W&L now employs one administrator for every three undergraduate students.

W&L—indeed higher education writ large—finds itself controlled by a tyranny of the minority.

Consider this recent email from a W&L parent:

“As a member of a Greek organization, my child was required to attend a mandatory DEI meeting led by the department.  During the meeting, it was implied that the number of white students in the freshman class (300) was far too many, but that the school was making progress with its diversity efforts (how does that make a white kid feel?).  Additionally, the group was repeatedly asked to give examples of how they had used their “white privilege” in the past, which was met with silence from the group of students.  Most students did not speak up as they fear retribution.  My child left the meeting angry that they had wasted an hour and 45 minutes discussing an agenda based on skin pigmentation instead of inherent character quality.”

Clearly, the DEI bureaucrats are abusing their new-found authority to act as acolytes of Critical Race Theory (CRT), indoctrinating students in concepts such as “white privilege” and the Marxist framework of “oppressed” and “oppressor” that divides America by chastising white students for their supposed irredeemable racism.

Universities—including W&L—almost universally embraced Kendi and his “antiracism” creed calling for active discrimination against whites to atone for the racism of their ancestors.  (Kendi, by the way, is now under investigation by Boston University for allegedly defrauding funders of his center there).  The colorblind society that Martin Luther King, Jr. called for—where people would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin—has been rejected by Kendi and the DEI crowd.

Ignoring Justice Clarence Thomas’s statement that “Two discriminatory wrongs don’t make a right,” DEI officials at many schools now insist that prospective employees—both faculty and administrators—sign on to dogmatic DEI statements as part of the hiring process.  Dissenting thinkers need not apply.

Anyone daring to challenge the DEI ideology is almost certain to be denounced as a racist hater.

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), “faculty are so scared of losing their jobs, since academics should be able to study and discuss any topic (and worry) that faculty members’ job-security fears could chill the advancement of research, with scholars afraid to challenge the established canon.”

In the face of so much tyrannical behavior on campus, many states are pushing back against the DEI industry.  Florida, for instance, recently passed a law restricting DEI activities in higher education.  Florida’s legislation “was one of at least 40 bills introduced in 22 states this year to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education, of which seven have become law.”

Speech codes and mandatory hiring statements are antithetical to freedom of thought and expression.  They have no place in higher education.

What is the role of DEI staffers on campus?  What (if anything) have they accomplished, other than increasing the cost of tuition?  And what exactly are the metrics by which DEI staffs should be judged?

Alumni are growing increasingly vocal and critical of the campus insanity.  At W&L, one such group of upset alumni is making a difference.  The Generals Redoubt has built a strong base–raising several million dollars, bringing conservative speakers to campus, and forming a Center For American Ideals—as more and more alumni are redirecting their donations from the University to The Generals Redoubt.

The intentions of those implementing DEI programs may have been good, but current administrators are now spreading toxic and divisive doctrines.  The Generals Redoubt is calling for W&L’s Board of Trustees—and boards of universities throughout America—to hold these bureaucrats accountable and judge them based upon their performance.

To support The Generals Redoubt, please visit their website.