The Corner

Politics & Policy

Get Rid of College ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ Offices

(Photo: David Hsu/Dreamstime)

For the last 25 years, a huge growth area for American higher education has been offices of “diversity and inclusion,” which now provide highly paid pseudo-jobs for many thousands of administrators. At UCLA, the vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion rakes in a cool $444,000, for example.

Do we actually need any of this, however? In today’s Martin Center article, Duke University professor John Staddon argues that we don’t. These make-work offices actually work at cross purposes with education. Their activities are “tangent to the university’s core function, which is open and free debate in search of veritas.”

The great problem with the “diversity and inclusion” mania, Staddon argues, is that it is centered on the notion that certain groups of people must be sheltered from ideas that might make them feel bad. That means that some ideas must be excluded — the exact opposite of the mission of any true educational institution.

One of the forbidden ideas is that there might be differences among groups. Staddon writes,

The insistence that group differences in ability or interests remain ‘out of bounds’ means that numerical disproportions can only mean racism, a claim that will inevitably result in mutual distrust and animosity. And if ideas cannot be separated from identity — truth is not the same for everyone — the result is a nihilistic relativism that makes a real university impossible.

What’s more, these offices, following public-choice logic, will do everything they can to justify their existence and grow. Staddon continues:

For some college bureaucracies, their work is never done. The Office of Student Affairs, and the faculty itself, must constantly cope with new intakes of students and changes in their subject of instruction. But for others, like an Office for Diversity and Inclusion, what is to be done once centers of African-Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBTQ+ students and the like have been established? Little more is required — that is, unless issues of equity or disrespect keep coming up — which they will, whether or not they actually exist. For if they don’t emerge in sufficient number, techniques such as implicit-bias testing are available to show that they’re there, after all, lack of objective evidence notwithstanding.

Like barnacles growing on the hull of a ship, D&I offices, add nothing and just impede progress.

Staddon concludes:

A D&I office is the source of problems, not a solution for them.  In the process, it promotes views that should be anathema to any real university. Offices of Diversity and Inclusion suppress dissent and increase division even as they promise the opposite. Universities and colleges do not need them. They should not exist.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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