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DEI Policies Undermine the Point of a Liberal College Education

DEI Policies Undermine the Point of a Liberal College Education

“there is a strong argument for abolishing D.E.I. programs on liberal grounds”

Chris Rufo is one of the leading opponents of DEI policies in higher education.

He writes at the New York Times:

Diversity Programs Miss the Point of a Liberal College Education

Academia is in the midst of a generational turmoil. Blue states such as California and Oregon have recently transformed their public universities with expansive “diversity, equity and inclusion” programs that have profound implications for admissions, speech, hiring and scholarship. Red states such as Florida and Texas have recently passed legislation abolishing them, concluding that the programs that have sprung up to execute D.E.I. promote a stifling orthodoxy that undermines the pursuit of truth.

This appears to be a binary left-right conflict. The right sees the abolition of D.E.I. as a step toward meritocracy, while the left sees it as an attack on minority rights. But moving beyond reflexive partisanship, there is a strong argument for abolishing D.E.I. programs on liberal grounds.

I am a noted conservative opponent of critical race theory and D.E.I. programs and was recently appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida as a trustee of New College. I believe that properly understood, the classical liberal arts tradition is the best hope for the American university system. We are faced with a paradox: in order to strengthen the values of liberal education, political leaders must use democratic power to reform drifting academic institutions and resist the process of ideological capture.

The most significant question looming over this debate is one that, unfortunately, has rarely been posed by either critics or supporters of D.E.I. programs: What is the purpose of a university? For most of the classical liberal tradition, the purpose of the university was to produce scholarship in pursuit of the true, the good and the beautiful. The university was conceived as a home for a community of scholars who pursued a variety of disciplines, but were united in a shared commitment to inquiry, research and debate, all directed toward the pursuit of the highest good, rather than the immediate interests of partisan politics.


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None of these colleges are interested in a “liberal” education anymore. They are about creating adherents to the Progressive religion. Period.

    Suburban Farm Guy in reply to GWB. | July 29, 2023 at 8:30 am

    Time for the ‘separation of church and state’ that the left is supposedly all about. Their policies based on religious beliefs in, say, climate change, or trans ideology (etc etc etc) are stifling everyone’s freedoms

America, and Florida, are blessed to have Christopher Rufo. Thank you Gov. DeSantis.