by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
David Waugh writes for the Martin Center about an influential force on most college campuses.
There has been particularly rapid growth over the past two decades in the area focused on the promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) on college campuses.
Aside from real concerns about the politicized and divisive nature of DEI, there are serious questions about whether or not these initiatives are even fulfilling their purported purposes—namely, to make students feel more welcome on college campuses.
DEI programs and administrators, as a relatively new and growing development, are understudied from a performance perspective. How many people work in DEI? How successful are these initiatives at carrying out their goals? A new report by the Heritage Foundation, entitled Diversity University: DEI Bloat in the Academy, takes a close look at these questions. The report is authored by Jay P. Greene, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and James D. Paul, distinguished doctoral fellow at the University of Arkansas.
Since DEI is a relatively new phenomenon, there is not a comprehensive dataset of all DEI staff in American higher education. A major component of Greene and Paul’s report is developing this data set, which they then use to evaluate the efficacy of DEI initiatives. …
… In general, however, this is not what the authors found. Rather, they report,
“There appears to be little relationship between DEI staffing and the diversity climate on campus…In general, student reports on campus climate are no better—and often worse, especially for minority students—at universities with larger DEI staff levels.”
This finding may provide support, as some scholars argue, that DEI initiatives diminish traditional higher education goals and spread division among students, faculty, and communities.
The report includes four North Carolina universities: UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, Duke University, and Wake Forest University. Greene and Paul highlight UNC-Chapel Hill in particular as an institution with a large DEI presence, but with a less favorable climate survey score.