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Hearing Recap: DEI Edition

Divisive. Excessive. Ineffective. These three themes carried the day as the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee convened to discuss the outsized influence of DEI bureaucracies on college campuses. 
DEI is a term that garners lots of attention and maybe more definitions. To adherents, it stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. To bureaucrats, it is a jobs program for social justice degree holders. To skeptics, it is a deeply resentful ideology that paints different racial groups in perpetual power struggles and mandates noxious discrimination.

In the strongest possible terms, Chairman Burgess Owens (R-UT) condemned DEI in his opening statement. “The DEI movement is, to its core, divisive. It judges others based on our immutable characteristics like color, race, and past ancestry which we have no control of. Instead of becoming a more perfect union, it turns our schools, communities, and cities into cesspools of divisiveness and hate,” he said.

Today’s expert witness panel included Dr. Erec Smith, Associate Professor of Rhetoric at York College of Pennsylvania and Cato Research Fellow; Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, Chair of Do No Harm; and Dr. Jay Greene, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation's Center for Education Policy.

Dr. Goldfarb used his opening statement to argue that DEI initiatives have a disastrous—and potentially deadly—impact on medical education. “When monoclonal antibodies were a potential lifesaving treatment for severe cases, two states, California and New York, created guideline algorithms that gave points toward justification for the use of the drugs in particular cases based on race,” he said.

Next, Dr. Greene gave perspective to the size and scope of campus DEI bureaucracies. He said, “In a recent report, my co-author, James Paul, and I analyzed the number of DEI staff at 65 universities that were members of Power 5 athletic conferences. We found that the average university had 45 DEI bureaucrats, or more than 1 for every 33 tenure-track faculty members.”

When the hearing moved to questioning, Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) used the opportunity to ask Dr. Greene to elaborate on his claim that with all the millions of dollars DEI programs get there is “nothing to show for these expenditures.”

“Sure. So, we’ve heard claims that DEI is meant to make students feel included and improve retention and graduation, but we haven’t heard any evidence of that,” replied Dr. Greene. He then added, “Campus climate is no better, and in fact is worse according to student surveys, at universities with larger DEI bureaucracies.”

DEI bureaucracies are also notorious drivers of campus antisemitism. This point was made repeatedly by many Committee Republicans, including Reps. Brandon Williams (R-NY) and Kevin Kiley (R-CA). Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) agreed, saying, “The offices of DEI on these college campuses are inherently antisemitic.”

Even some Democrats joined in on the DEI bashing, such as Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC). “If DEI is the right place to address antisemitism, then those DEI programs have been failing the Jewish students,” said Rep. Manning.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) directed his questioning toward the practical implications of DEI. He asked, “How does DEI help medical students become better physicians?”

“I don’t think it does,” responded Dr. Goldfarb.

Finally, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) ended the hearing by showing a video that is part of a mandatory DEI program for Davidson University athletics. The video depicts a communist-style struggle session in which DEI bureaucrats make sweeping claims that paint all white people as racist. 
In the video, a student asks, “So, are you saying that all white people are racist?”

The bureaucrat in the video emphatically responds, “Yes.”

As a college educator, Dr. Smith offered the perfect summary of the video: “What we just saw there is what I’m talking about. I’m sure there are various offices that are doing it right. Too many are doing it wrong, and that’s the kind of thing they’re doing.”

Bottom Line: Don’t take the bait; diversity, equity, and inclusion are false monikers for the divisive DEI worldview that is tearing college campuses apart. 
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