The Corner

Politics & Policy

What Does All the DEI Spending on Campuses Accomplish?

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To signal their “progressive” virtues, college and university leaders have been larding on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity administrators in recent years. Those administrators are supposed to make all the students feel welcome, to dissolve nasty old stereotypes, and to ensure equal success for everyone.

Like so many other leftist nostrums, the DEI mania is the triumph of (purportedly) good intentions over reality. Having legions of DEI busybodies doesn’t seem to improve things on campus — unless creating make-work jobs for college grads counts.

In today’s Martin Center article, David Waugh of the American Institute for Economic Research looks at the effectiveness of DEI spending and finds it very questionable. In particular, he dives into a recent Heritage Foundation report by Jay Greene and James Paul. Greene and Paul examined 65 representative universities across the U.S., finding that on average, each employed 45 people in DEI positions.

And what do they accomplish?

One of the higher-education fads in recent years is the “campus climate survey.” Those surveys supposedly reveal how well students get along. So, do schools that put more emphasis on DEI bureaucracy have better results? The authors find no such evidence: “There appears to be little relationship between DEI staffing and the diversity climate on campus . . . In general, student reports on campus climate are no better — and often worse, especially for minority students — at universities with larger DEI staff levels.”

The University of North Carolina is near the top in DEI activity, but Greene and Paul don’t see that it makes Chapel Hill more accommodating. Waugh quotes them as saying that, “The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a large DEI emphasis, with the second-highest ratio of DEI personnel to ADA compliance staff among the institutions sampled. In a campus climate survey, UNC students were asked whether they agreed that they ‘felt a sense of belonging to this campus.’ Overall, 73 percent agreed with this statement, but among African American students the figure drops to 54 percent. Again, having many people with job responsibilities to promote DEI does not seem to close the gap between African American and other students in terms of their feeling of belonging on campus.”

Could it be that this is a waste of money? Could it even be that the DEI mania is counter-productive, with administrators stirring up racial tensions to justify their jobs?

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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