by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) has a good idea to roll back the most abusive aspects of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” regimes on college campuses.
He is introducing a bill to bar post-secondary institutions from receiving federal funding if they compel students or employees to write or swear allegiance to DEI statements. His goal is laudable, and his proposal appears narrowly tailored enough to avoid drawbacks that might otherwise inhere in the use of federal funding as a cudgel for ideological ends.
Granted, the Left has made a nefarious habit of entrapping all sorts of institutions, educational or otherwise, by hooking them on federal money until it becomes their lifeblood, then threatening to withhold it unless they comply with unwarranted intrusions. A few colleges, such as Hillsdale in Michigan, avoid this ideological extortion blackmail by refusing any federal funds.
Alas, for most institutions of higher education, such forbearance has become impossible. So heavily is federal funding tied up with student aid, research grants, and other inducements that institutions could collapse without government cash. Those who believe in limited government must prevent the feds from becoming a sort of drug pusher, hooking schools and then keeping them like supplicant junkies.
Crenshaw’s bill avoids this overreach. What government does have a right to demand is that public universities adhere to, and that private universities respect the spirit of, basic constitutional principles. If taxpayers pay the tabs, their representatives have an obligation to ensure that the money isn’t used to contradict the bedrock postulates of republican government.
On three different levels, Crenshaw’s bill is well aimed. First, on considerations of both practicality and normative ethics, it targets the Left’s DEI establishment that are noxious. They are divisive, insisting that substance and merit take a back seat to the group “identity” of the scholars or students. Separating people into classes of either “oppressors” or “oppressed,” they make a fetish of supposed victimhood while excusing low standards. DEI regimes retard the development of civic virtue.