Jonathan H. Adler of Reason points to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that focuses on this topic:
DEI Inc. v. Academic Freedom
Reflecting on Hamline University’s disgraceful decision to fire an adjunct professor for showing a painting of Muhammad in an art history class, Amna Khalid and Jeffrey Aaron Snyder argue in the Chronicle of Higher Education that DEI, as it has become ensconced in many universities (what they call “DEI Inc.) can pose a threat to academic freedom.
What is “DEI Inc” Here is how they describe it:
DEI Inc. is a logic, a lingo, and a set of administrative policies and practices. The logic is as follows: Education is a product, students are consumers, and campus diversity is a customer-service issue that needs to be administered from the top down. (“Chief diversity officers,” according to an article in Diversity Officer Magazine,”are best defined as ‘change-management specialists.'”) DEI Inc. purveys a safety-and-security model of learning that is highly attuned to harm and that conflates respect for minority students with unwavering affirmation and validation.
Lived experience, the intent-impact gap, microaggressions, trigger warnings, inclusive excellence. You know the language of DEI Inc. when you hear it. It’s a combination of management-consultant buzzwords, social justice slogans, and “therapy speak.” The standard package of DEI Inc. administrative “initiatives” should be familiar too, from antiracism trainings to bias-response teamsand mandatory diversity statements for hiring and promotion.
Note their emphasis on how DEI programs are structured and administered, rather than the purposes such programs ostensibly serve. Khalid and Snyder are not arguing against genuine efforts to diversify college campuses and foster greater inclusion of those from different cultures or backgrounds.
As they discuss, what happened at Hamline is the natural consequence of creating and empowering DEI Inc within a university campus. It’s a consequence of the policies and practices, not the end goals.
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