by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A public Tennessee university is offering professors financial incentives for “infusing” social justice into their classes.
The University of Memphis told faculty they could collect a $3,000 stipend for redesigning their curricula to align with the university’s commitment to “diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice,” according to an email sent to all faculty obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The offer is part of the university’s “Eradicating Systemic Racism and Promoting Social Justice Initiative.”
Interested faculty are asked to submit a copy of syllabi to be reworked as well as a 500-word “narrative” on their “diversity, equity, and inclusion philosophy” and how the new lessons will “address disparities” in their subject area.
The University of Memphis’s offer is part of a growing trend on college campuses, where the overt promotion of social justice has become the new norm. At Ohio’s Kenyon College, a small liberal arts school, professors can no longer receive tenure unless they can demonstrate “promotion of an inclusive classroom environment that values diversity.”
The stipend offer from a public university has triggered concerns from both faculty and lawmakers over use of taxpayer money. One faculty member who requested anonymity due to fear of retribution said the offer “makes you scratch your head” due to the school’s financial restraints.
“We’ve had a hard time retaining good faculty at our salary levels, so anytime you see money being spent on non-student or non-faculty causes, it makes you scratch your head,” the professor said. “Could this money be spent on students or retaining quality faculty rather than a progressive agenda that isn’t likely supported by the taxpayers or voters of Tennessee?”
The professor said he’s concerned that otherwise apolitical courses would now be used to turn students into activists.